Predicting the future is a notoriously tricky business, but schools must do their best to prepare young people for the world of work that will welcome their graduates in a very few years.
These emerging jobs will create high demand for both technology-oriented and more human-oriented opportunities that can fulfil people’s aspirations and potential.
The jobs of tomorrow cluster around seven themes:
1. caring professions
2. data and Artificial Intelligence
3. engineering and cloud computing
4. green professions
5. marketing, sales and content
6. people and culture
Some of the more likely ‘hot jobs’ of the future include:
• Medical transcriptionist
• athletic trainers
• exercise physiologists
• data scientist
• Big Data developer
• insights analyst
• site reliability engineer (cloud computing)
• full-stack students engineer
• Python developer
• landfill system technician
• wind turbine service technician
• sustainability specialists
• human resources partner
• talent acquisition specialist
• HR business partner
• Quality Assurance tester
• Agile coach
• digital product owner
• social media content producer
• marketing growth hacker
• customer specialist
• chief commercial officer
• creative copywriter
What skills should schools be helping students to develop for full participation in the jobs marketplace being created by the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Some skills are familiar, having formed the backbone of learning and teaching in schools for many years. Students will always need to read, perceptively, write persuasively, and apply mathematical understanding practically –although now they must do so in digital, technology-rich environments (and with increasing degrees of sophistication). Learning multiple languages is a good idea; so is learning how to manage projects; how to lead and care for others; how to be an active, healthy individual.
But there may need some new subjects in the curriculum, and some more attention to the development of opportunities for students to engage with real-world learning that helps prepare them for the world to come. Computers (or more specifically, computer-human interaction), to no one’s surprise, will be key. But data science, data visualization, data storage technologies, data literacy, and data analytics are brave new disciplines for most secondary schools. Allied health professions will be big. It will be important to inspire children with learning engagements that do shy away from the physical body and its care (even if what they learn is through advanced simulations). The creative arts will be ever-more central, and business/ entrepreneurial / management/ manufacturing career courses may need a refresh (and some long-overdue additional prestige).
Education in the future: skills-oriented and non-traditional academic pathways
Education for the future will likely be more skills-oriented, and less concerned with validating content knowledge. It will always be important to know things, but it is increasingly important to harness knowledge to action. Students also need to learn how to do things. People (‘soft’) skills, digital literacy skills, and technical skills will need to frame the scope and sequence of learning at tomorrow’s schools. Tech skills and content production skills will need to develop new baselines and offer structured learning engagements that bring students into contact with disruptive technologies as they’re emerging.
Probably very few teachers are ready to lead this change, so it will be important to soften the edges between school and the world beyond the classroom. We will need powerful partnerships for learning, and an innovative structure to scaffold students’ introduction to tomorrow’s occupations. We will need new academic programs that value careers and
perhaps other non-traditional academic pathways for outliers and social entrepreneurs who have often languished in the lock-step progressions of learning that most educational institutions have learned to do so well.
The emerging labour market offers opportunities galore—ready or not, here it comes.
“The skills necessary at the higher echelons will include especially the ability to efficiently network, manage public relations, display intercultural sensitivity, marketing, and generally what we would call ‘social’ and ‘emotional’ intelligence. [This also includes] creativity, and just enough critical thinking to move outside the box.”
“We are now in the transitional stage of employers gradually reducing their prejudice in the hiring of those who studied at a distance, and moving in favour of such ‘graduates’ who, in the workplace, demonstrate greater proactiveness, initiative, discipline, collaborativeness – because they studied online.”
traits including leadership, design thinking, “human meta communication,” deliberation, conflict resolution, and the capacity to motivate, mobilize and innovate. Still, others spoke of more practical needs that could help workers in the medium term – to work with data and algorithms, to implement 3-D modelling and work with 3-D printers, or to implement the newly emerging capabilities in artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality.
Theme 1: The training ecosystem will evolve, with a mix of innovation in all education formats
These experts envision that the next decade will bring a more widely diversified world of education and training options in which various entities design and deliver different services to those who seek to learn. They expect that some innovation will be aimed at emphasizing the development of human talents that machines cannot match and at helping humans partner with technology. They say some parts of the ecosystem will concentrate on delivering real-time learning to workers, often in formats that are self-taught.
Commonly occurring ideas among the responses in this category are collected below under headings reflecting subthemes.
More learning systems will migrate online. Some will be self-directed and some offered or required by employers; others will be hybrid online/real-world classes. Workers will be expected to learn continuously
Most experts seem to have faith that rapid technological development and a rising wariness of coming impacts of the AI/robotics revolution are going to spur the public, private and governmental actions needed for education and training systems to be adapted to deliver more flexible, open, adaptable, resilient, certifiable and useful lifelong learning.
“The nature of education will change to a mix of models. College education (which will still favour multi-year, residential education) will need to be more focused on teaching students to be lifelong learners, followed by more online content, in situ training, and other such [elements] to increase skills in a rapidly changing information world. As automation puts increasing numbers of low- and middle-skill workers out of work, these models will also provide for certifications and training needs to function in an increasingly automated service sector.”
“We will see a vast increase in educational and training programs. We will also see what might be called on-demand or on-the-job kind of training programs. (We kind of have to, as, with continued automation, we will need to retrain a large portion of the workforce.) I strongly believe employers will subscribe to this idea wholeheartedly; it increases the overall education of their workforce, which benefits their bottom line. Nevertheless, I am a big believer in the college experience, which I see as a way to learn what you are all about, as a person and in your field of study. The confidence in yourself and your abilities cannot be learned in a short course. It takes life experience or four years at a tough college. At a good college, you are challenged to be your best – this is very resource-intensive and cannot be scaled at this time.”
“The key to education in the next 10 years will be the understanding that we now live in a world without walls – and so the walls of the school (physical and conceptual) need to shatter and never go up again. In the (hopefully near) future, we will not segregate schooling from work and real-world thinking and development. They will seamlessly weave into a braid of learning, realization, exposure, hands-on experience and integration into students’ own lives. And, again, the experience of being a student, now confined to grade school, secondary school and university, will expand to include workers, those looking for work, and those who want or need to retrain – as well as what we now think of as conventional education. One way we will break down these walls – we are already doing so – will be to create digital learning spaces to rival classrooms as ‘places’ where learning happen[s]. Via simulation, gaming, digital presentations – combined with hands-on, real-world experience – learning and re-education will move out of books and into the world. The more likely enhancement will be to take digital enhancements out into the world – again, breaking down the walls of the classroom and school – to inform and enhance the experience.”
Online courses will get a big boost from advances in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI)
Some respondents expressed confidence in the best of current online education and training options, saying online course options are cost-effective, evolving for the better, and game-changing because they are globally accessible. Those with the most optimism expect great progress will be made in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and AI. While some say 2026 will still be “early days” for this tech, many are excited about its prospects for enhancing learning in the next decade.
Universities still have special roles to play in preparing people for life, but some are likely to diversify and differentiate
Many respondents said real-world, campus-based higher education will continue to thrive during the next decade. They generally expect that no other educational experience can match residential universities’ capabilities for fully immersive, person-to-person learning, as well as mentoring and socializing functions, before 2026. They said a residential university education helps build intangible skills that are not replicable online and thus deepens the skills base of those who can afford to pay for such an education, but they expect that job-specific training will be managed by employers on the job and via novel approaches. Some say major universities’ core online course content, developed with all of the new-tech bells and whistles, will be marketed globally and adopted as baseline learning in smaller higher education locales, where online elements from major MOOCs can be optimally paired in hybrid learning with in-person mentoring activities.
Theme 2: Learners must cultivate 21st-century skills, capabilities and attributes
Tough-to-teach intangible skills, capabilities and attributes such as emotional intelligence, curiosity, creativity, adaptability, resilience and critical thinking will be most highly valued
The skills needed to succeed in today’s world and the future are curiosity, creativity, taking initiative, multi-disciplinary thinking and empathy. These skills, interestingly, are the skills specific to human beings that machines and robots cannot do …
“We will see training for the jobs of the past and service jobs. The jobs of the future will not need large numbers of workers with a fixed set of skills – most things that we can train large numbers of workers for, we will also be able to train computers to do better.”
Among the many other skills mentioned were: process-oriented and system-oriented thinking; journalistic skills, including research, evaluation of multiple sources, writing and speaking; understanding algorithms, computational thinking, networking and programming; grasping law and policy; an evidence-based way of looking at the world; time management; conflict resolution; decision-making; locating information in the flood of data; storytelling using data; and influencing and consensus-building.
young adults need to be taught how to have face-to-face interaction, including one who said they “seem to be sorely lacking in these skills and can only interact with a cellphone or laptop.”
Practical experiential learning via apprenticeships and mentoring will advance
Because so many intricacies of the workplace – the human, soft and hard – are learned on the job, respondents said they expect apprenticeships and forms of mentoring will regain value and evolve along with the 21st‑century workplace.
Theme 3: New credentialing systems will arise as self-directed learning expands
As they anticipate the appearance of effective new learning environments and advances in digital accountability systems, many of these experts believe fresh certification programs will be created to attest to workers’ participation in training programs and the mastery of skills. Some predict that many more workers will begin using online and app-based learning systems.
While the traditional college degree will still hold sway in 2026, more employers may accept alternate credentialing systems, as learning options and their measures evolve
Theme 4: Training and learning systems will not meet 21st century needs by 2026
online formats for knowledge transfer will not advance significantly in the next decade.
Theme 5: Jobs? What jobs? Technological forces will fundamentally change work and the economic landscape
‘There will be a parallel call for benefits, professional development and compensation that smooths out rough patches’ in an ‘on-demand labour life’
14 Future Jobs:
Coding is fast becoming one of the most sought-after skills for technology companies and between researcher groups. It has caused some European countries to add coding to the primary school curriculum, and here in the UK, one school has even hired a child coding prodigy to teach coding at a school in Coventry. How old do you think the new member of staff is? Well, she’s just ten years old!
There is no doubt that coding is going to pave the way for new jobs in the future. But as it may take some time for those primary school kids to reach the job market, there is an obvious gap that needs filling for the immediate coding market. Reskilling to make this career change can even increase your salary by 38%.
So, if you want to seize an opportunity, now may be the best time ever to get into coding. Start your development by searching for the best online coding courses. Whether you’re interested in learning Python, developing your Java skills, or gaining Django certifications, we have something for you.
There are so many different things you can do with programming, and with courses, you can try anything that takes your fancy. Perhaps video game design and development or creative machine learning sounds exciting, or maybe building web applications is better suited to you.
Most people not familiar with blockchain technology will have still heard about it – usually its association with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The future of finance is going to be heavily influenced by the rise of blockchain technology, and you can learn about decentralised finance or innovations in fintech in our courses.
However, blockchains are not just used for cryptocurrency. They’re standalone technologies that can be useful across industries. They are already been used in the automotive industry to record the history of vehicles to prevent seller fraud. Nobody will be able to lie about the car’s mileage or maintenance when all this information is recorded on the blockchain and 100% secure.
They have also been tipped to revolutionise the music industry as a way to allocate royalties among artists, songwriters and others who have earned a cut from the creation of a track. This will prevent people from missing out on what is rightfully theirs because buyers can easily check the blockchain to see who has any rights to a song, and then pay them for it. This will hopefully reduce the number of legal battles taking place in the industry.
Overall, the potential of blockchain is massive – and almost every industry will be crying out for blockchain developers in the future. Y