The Rapidly Shifting World

We anticipate that in the next two decades industrialized countries will have more job openings than workers to fill them, and that robotics and automation will play an increasingly crucial role in closing these gaps.

(Work of the Future 2019 – MIT Task Force)

Exciting Opportunities

Throughout history different generations have proclaimed that their era was the best time to be alive, and the 21st century is no exception. A leading public intellect, Steven Pinker, has tested this theory using objective measures and found that the 21st century is in fact a superior time for healthy longevity, equality, peace, scientific and technological progress, wellbeing and prosperity.  This list should only continue to grow in the coming years as technology provides new ways of enhancing and harnessing human intelligence to solve the most pressing problems facing humanity.

As technological and scientific progress accelerates, so does the need to identify the opportunities where it can make a difference and negotiate the implementation of tailored solutions.  The jobs of the future will thus concentrate on complex problem solving and rely on a combination of technical skills and human skills, such as the ability to gauge needs, build trust, explain how the tech solution will help, and develop a workable plan to implement it.  Many jobs will concentrate on improving the collaboration of humans with technology and thus making humans and technology more effective.

Some jobs will help to source and manage information and resources more effectively, such as design and run organisations and cities in more environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and safe ways.   Some jobs will be involved in addressing the ethical concerns of the 21st century: inequality, economic exploitation, climate change and environmental damage, and using business for social good.  Others will work proactively to prevent disease and slow down and reverse biological ageing for longer, healthy and more productive lifespans.

Consult the following reports for some specific job titles and descriptions based on existing trends:

Grand Challenges

As seen with the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is already facing significant challenges in the early 21st century.  Workers will need to be equipped with problem solving skills, commercial awareness and global acumen, and take note of employment trends in order to maximise opportunities and minimise risk in the labour market.  The increasingly uncontrollable and rapidly changing era of the 21st Century is often described in the terms of VUCA – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Many factors contribute to VUCA, which influences our personal and professional lives directly or indirectly – some of them include:

  • Economic crises – global financial crises and pandemics have caused major disruptions to employability and shifted growth areas for employment in response to these events.
  • Globalisation – a discernible shift is moving away from global economies and towards regional trade blocks that could lead to new, localised opportunities for advanced technologies, trade, education, manufacturing, as well as research and development.
  • Fourth Industrial Revolution – this new era of human development represents a fundamental change to the way we live and work. Technological advances will facilitate the merging of physical, digital and biological worlds, which will allow automation of many processes in order to release humans to focus more on higher order thinking within the workplace (creativity, complex problem solving, critical thinking).
  • New ways of working – there is a growing trend towards the emancipation of the ‘employee’ and a shift towards the casualisation of workforces and a gig economy.
  • Climate change – it forces new developments in the environment, technology and science, resources extraction, energy creation, capture and distribution, migration and politics.
  • Lifespan revolution – the average lifespan in some countries is heading towards 90 years and more. The key challenge is to increase the healthspan (duration of good health), through research into the mechanisms of biological ageing and developing treatments and services to fight the disrepair that comes with it.

Additional Resources