Computers are revolutionising the world of work, so it’s important to choose a career that will survive their impact.
While technology can increase the demand for skilled workers, for others it’s having the opposite effect – for example, our increased use of email means fewer postie jobs.
But jobs are also emerging or evolving as a result of technology. Who would have imagined working as a social media specialist five years ago?
No one can say with certainty what the future work environment will look like. But experts predict that these seven career areas have the most promising future:
- Medicine and health care
- Renewable energy and green jobs
- Information technology
- International and environmental law
- Content creation and marketing
- Data science
- Financial analysis
1. Medicine and health care
Health care is one of the fastest-growing industries in the western world. A greater focus on preventive care and the need to care for a large ageing population will put health care workers in greater demand. Jobs in demand will include:
- occupational therapist
- dental hygienist
- tertiary lecturer in health
- personal trainer.
The role of nursing support worker might evolve into that of a virtual health support worker – monitoring patients’ health remotely using digital technology, saving them a trip to the hospital. Emerging preventive health roles could be paleo coach or underwater yoga instructor.
There’ll be increased demand for health specialists such as biomedical engineers who can produce new types of prosthetics and artificial organs, genetic counsellors who can tell you your risk of getting diseases and stem cell researchers who can grow you a new body part if you have an accident.
2. Renewable energy and green jobs
We’re far from saying sayonara to oil and gas, but as alternative energy sources such as wind, hydrogen, geothermal, and solar become more mainstream we can expect to see more people working in these fields, such as:
- electricians who install solar panels
- mechanical engineering technicians
- production managers
- environmental scientists
- sales and marketing professionals.
Businesses need to respond to climate change, so we will see more roles emerge in sustainable agriculture (agricultural systems that don't destroy the environment), clean energy and green products and services. An example is home performance advisors who will recommend energy-efficent solutions to homeowners.
Sustainable businesses will require more engineers and scientists such as chemical engineers to design less wasteful manufacturing processes, or horticulture scientists who research new ways of growing food.
3. Information technology
Computers, the internet and smartphones have changed the way we do business and communicate. And as their use continues to rise, so will the demand for information technology (IT) professionals, such as:
- software developers
- systems administrators
- software architects
- user experience [UX] designers
- game developers.
You can also expect to see growth in roles like app developers and even – as more confidential information goes online – ethical hackers or information security analysts, employed to hack into systems to pinpoint problems in a company’s cybersecurity.
Other new and emerging roles include big data architects, who help businesses improve their performance by managing, sorting and filtering volumes of data, and cloud service specialists who deliver, design and build cloud-based IT systems.
With more businesses becoming global traders and interested in global issues, demand is rising for those with experience in international law, tax codes, work and environmental regulations, and even ethics.
As the rules on greenhouse gases and pollution tighten, there’ll also be a place for environmental lawyers who can advise their clients on green initiatives and sustainability issues.
A law degree with an emphasis on international or environmental law combined with study in science subjects will be important when it comes to understanding technical issues such as water quality.
- Find courses in environmental law
- Find out more about legal careers
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website - information on foreign policy careers
- United Nations website - information on UN careers
5. Content creation and marketing
Education-based marketing has created a demand for writers and marketers specialising in digital content like social media, blogs, online newsletters and website articles.
Digital influencers are part of a new group of writers who make a living from their work on social media, and do well if their stories capture the public’s imagination. Crowdfunding specialists, like those at PledgeMe, come up with innovative digital campaigns to raise funds for start-ups.
Content creators usually have a journalist qualification or a Bachelor’s degree and a combination of some other specialised skills like photography, marketing, public relations, YouTube content creation, and social media expertise.
6. Data science
Data science has been labelled the sexiest career of the century as facts and statistical-based predictions become an integral part of business decision making.
Data scientists trawl through data and analyse numbers, like customer transaction data, so that companies can provide more targeted and personalised marketing. Or, in an eco-friendly data role, a water footprint manager calculates a business’s water usage and suggests ways to use less.
A Bachelor’s degree in a science, social science or even a business field – such as marketing, statistics or maths and a Masters in data science is required. Experience in quantitative data analysis, and the ability to tell a meaningful story from your research findings, is vital.
7. Financial analysis
Unsettled economic times have demonstrated a need for sound financial advice and planning for individuals and businesses. As we age there’ll be more focus on good investment advice and professional help to plan for retirement.
To become a financial adviser you'll need a certificate in Financial Services and great people skills.
Thinking about training or retraining?
If you’re considering training, upskilling or retraining in any of these seven growth areas, you can check out our courses information:
- Cio, ‘Data Scientist: Most ‘In Demand’ Jobs of the century?’, December 2012, (www.cio.co.nz).
- Dugan, D, ‘7 Careers for the Future’, accessed February 2016, (www.salary.com).
- Forbes, ‘6 High-Paying Jobs of the Future’, September 2013, (www.forbes.com).
- Guardian Careers, ‘Green Economy Jobs of the Future: How Will Yours Shape Up?’, February 2014, (www.theguardian.com).
- New Zealand Herald, ‘Future-Proof Your Career: The Rise of Green Jobs’, October 2013, (www.nzherald.co.nz).
- Rotherham, F, ‘The Legacy of a Red Shed Head’, NZ Listener, February 6-12, 2016.
- Slabbert, B, ‘Professional Instagramer Lauren Bath Shares the Secrets of a Digital Influencer’, July 2015, (stuff.co.nz).
- University of Kent Careers and Employability Service, ‘Future Jobs’, accessed February 2016, (www.kent.ac.uk).