I am an optimist by nature and I have remained skeptical of dark forecasts which predict the future based on one dominant trend (AI comes to mind) while ignoring multiple factors that are likely to moderate or change an expected trajectory. Imagine my surprise and delight to read about a recent study on the future of work that predicted that both lawyers and librarians are two of the careers which are expected to experience increased demand through 2030. The Future of Skills” Employment in 2030 was produced as the result of a collaboration by Pearson – the educational publisher, NESTA- a global innovation foundation and the Oxford Martin School.
The report even highlights the surprising inclusion that librarians are listed in the high growth professions: Although traditional libraries have evolved ” we’ll still need people: librarians, to help us navigate information both old and new. But like many occupations, the skills profile of a librarian is likely to shift substantially in the years ahead.”
The Question Posed: The paper addresses the following research question “Given the likely drivers of change in future labor markets, which occupations would grow or decline in demand by 2030 and what will their skills profile be?
Key trends influencing US and UK labor markets include: technological change, globalization, demographic change, environmental sustainability, urbanization, increasing inequality and political uncertainty. Human experts and machine intelligence algorithms analyzed the future of employment and skills. Here are the results:
Frankly I find it surprising that there appears to be so little overlap between the US and UK lists of top jobs. Some of this I assume can be attributed to the study having used the standard employment categories provided by the UK and US governments. Maybe Personal Appearance Workers (6 US) have an equivalence with “Sports and Fitness Occupations” ( 3UK). But where are the UK Lawyers and Librarians – Shall we just blame their disappearance on Richard “The End of Lawyers” Susskind.
21st century skills that will be in demand in the marketplace in the US include interpersonal skills, teaching social perceptivenss, service orientation and persuasion . Higher order cognitive skills in demand include: complex problem-solving, originality, fluency of ideas and active learning.
The report drew six conclusions:
- Only one and five workers are in an occupation that will shrink
- Only one in 10 workers are in occupations that are likely to grow.
- Seven in 10 workers are in jobs where there is greater uncertainty about the future.
- Twenty First century skills will be in demand, but a more nuanced understanding of which skills will be in greatest demand is required.
- Our research Definitively shows that both knowledge and skills will be required for the future economy.
- Occupations and their skill requirements are not set in stone. Occupations can be redesigned to pair unique human skills of productivity gains from technology to boost demand for jobs.
This will not be a slam dunk. The report provides recommendations for educations, policymakers and individuals can take to better prepare for a very uncertain future. College degrees may lose some status as other kinds of skills related credentials emerge which can be acquired throughout the course of a career in order to adapt to emerging demands and opportunities. Jobs will not be set in stone and even the job titles that survive are likely to be radically transformed as their are paired with advances in AI.