According to a Fortune magazine article in January 2016, 25-million new jobs will be created in the US thanks to technology.
Oxford researchers suggest that nearly half of the occupations in the US will be computerised in the next 20 years. Gartner predicts that one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots, and smart machines within a decade. A McKinsey & Co. analysis finds that 45% of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.
The increasingly rapid development and deployment of software and applications is feeding a surge of data analytics and cloud computing. Big data and the internet of things will employ millions of people in new types of jobs.
According to the Fortune article, there will be a high demand for three types of workers: computer programmers, data analysts, and those who design, make and install all sorts of sensors across the commercial landscape. Contrary to popular belief, historically, new technologies have generated more jobs than they’ve killed off.
Cathy N. Davidson, co-director of the annual MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions, claims 65% of kids will end up with jobs that have yet to be created.
Jenny Bergh, eLearning specialist at Eiffel Corp examined how education and technology will introduce future jobs that don’t exist yet: Traditionally, schools have been teacher-centric with chalk and talk sessions, marked by repetitious exercises and regurgitation, all focused on year-end exams and ultimately matriculation.
Many schools have modified this approach by including group projects, excursions, smartboards, and final results composed of year-long participation, projects and exams.
By turning the Blooms Taxonomy pyramid on its head and learning through the child’s eyes and experiences as in the social constructivist approach, where learners learn from their peers, the current school system is destined for change.
Traditional teaching can open mindsets to innovations but without practical application and usage of digital technology, it is limited.
Educators have the task of making students ready with skills that can adapt to those required for future employment opportunities.
Teaching with the latest possible technologies is just part of that task.
Utilising learning management systems like Blackboard Learn or Moodlerooms is essential to teach greater numbers of students more efficiently and effectively, overcoming the access challenges of time, distance and finances, at the same time using the technologies that will be part of their futures.
Workplace learning using tools such as Grovo, are one of the ways for people in the job market to equip themselves for jobs of the future.
Albert Einstein’s famous quote gives credence to this: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand”.
We need to encourage curiosity, innovation, creativity and work flexibly, linked with technology such as devices, apps and systems.
But these can’t be promoted in a teacher-centric class governed by inflexible boundaries. Education needs to promote research and the ability to evaluate material found online.
Education should encourage the construct of new knowledge in new ways using networks of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, access to experts in different fields via international blogs, journal articles, webinars, and direct email.
In accordance with Einstein’s belief: “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere”.
In the New York Times, Davidson cites the elite Socratic system of questions and answers, the agrarian method of problem-solving and the apprenticeship programme of imitating a master. It’s possible that any of these educational approaches would be more appropriate to the digital era than the one we have now.
Gaming challenges boundaries, imagination and encourages lateral thinking. Gaming is fun and as such sparks the interest to learn in a new way.
Kids have always played games and learned skills of problem solving, strategic thinking, and motor skill development – why not have games to learn physics and chemistry or mathematics?
The Sunday Times recently reported how technology was influencing jobs of the future: “But now, companies in almost every industry, either by necessity or to follow the pack, are pursuing some sort of digital game plan – creating lucrative opportunities for computing-minded newcomers who want to reboot their lives”.
So with extraordinary coding, the automation of equipment is happening. Automation is certain to wipe out a bunch of existing positions. New jobs emerge not in using the equipment but in managing the software to automate it.
Companies are already partnering with each other to offer services that facilitate living – like Ford partnering with companies (Amazon and Wink) that allow people to control features of their houses – lights, thermostats and security systems, whilst driving.
Jobs that don’t exist yet
- Atmospheric water harvesters.
- Fear containment managers.
- Drone traffic optimisers.
- Bot lobbiest: creates fake social media accounts to aid in promoting a client’s business and marketing efforts.
- Big data doctor: online health care – a new class of MDs who treat based on a patient’s biographic profile and personal data.
- Crowdfunding specialist: a growing need for expert advisers to help fundraisers promote their causes.
- Flying car mechanics: Henry Ford did not foresee the invention of flying cars, when his invention replaced the horse and carriage. This is an industry that is gaining altitude – flying cars are being designed and tested with hopes for ports for taking off and landing where people manage the air traffic and refuelling.
- Digital security: to prevent hacking, data security, analytics and support specialists, surge in growth.
- Biotechnology: the industry clamours for microbiologists, biochemists, geneticists, biomedical engineers and data scientists to support the health requirements of a burgeoning world population. All of these require digital skills applicable to the automated equipment in their fields.
- Space tour guides.
- Alternative energy jobs – solar, wind, sea, geothermal – are growing in popularity against nuclear and coal power.
- Wind and marine engineers/technicians.
- Atmospheric scientists.
Jobs lost to technology
- Bowling alley pinsetters: bowling is still a popular sport today even though it first started in the early 1800’s. Since the pinsetter was developed in the 1950s, the need for human pinsetters was lost.
- Radio actors.
- Lamplighters: street lamps were lit by gas.
- The town crier was replaced by modern media. Only one exists today – announcing the birth of a royal baby in the UK.
- Newspaper readers: put out of work when radios were invented.
- Alarm clocks: Now also redundant, over a century ago workers were paid to go around town and beat on doors with a stick, jingle bells, or even throw pebbles at windows.