Are you ready for the jobs of the future?

Meet Sebastien. He is 28 years old, born and raised in Luxembourg. He speaks French, Luxembourgish, English and Spanish – which he learnt during his Erasmus programme in Madrid. When he was in high school, he decided he wanted to be an economist. He found the idea of conducting research, collecting and analysing data to help solve societal issues very appealing. So, for his Bachelor and Master’s degrees he went on to study Economics, Finance and Management.

But straight roads are scarce in life. Once he was finally holding both diplomas in his hands and the time to look for an internship or a first job arrived, reality hit him. He was sending applications every day, or almost, but with no success. The job openings, even for internships in a crowded room of a large organisation, were requesting some work experience, which he didn’t have. Competition was fierce. He was disappointed, but he kept applying. 

Eventually, he decided to apply for an auditor position in a financial services firm. As an intern first, he managed to stay as a junior auditor. While he was learning a lot from the experience itself, he knew getting a renowned certificate would raise his profile. Hence, that’s what he did. Now, he is considering enrolling in a course about Sustainable Finance, the new hot topic that seems to be here to stay and everyone should catch up with.

This is Sebastien’s story, but it could be anyone’s, really. In today’s day and age, the traditional path of getting a degree in a particular field and finding a job for life in that same field no longer applies. One could say this is due to generational and cultural changes, but there’s more to that. The truth is, the twists and turns of technology developments play a crucial role too. 

Think of jobs such as social media manager, professional blogger, app designer, cloud services specialist or big data analyst. They didn’t exist 10 years ago and here they are now, mostly because of how digital technology developed. 

Technology development is relentless, and sometimes even rebellious. Hand in hand with it goes the evolution of the labour market and also, for the bad or for the good, the one of our lives. This article looks into the jobs of the future and reflects on the current and emerging skills we will need to master to be part of tomorrow’s workforce.

 
10 jobs of the future 2030

Two paragraphs above we wrote for a reason that the labour market is changing “mostly because of technology, especially digital. That’s because life events also have an impact on how jobs evolve. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), there are a number of new professions that are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a massive move to remote working and to an online “big-bang”. Here are the top ten professions that you or your children might be doing soon:

1. Work-from-Home Facilitator

Now that the expectation is that remote work will remain the norm post-pandemic, companies need to apply the lessons learnt to optimise the work-from-home experience, and they also need experts to troubleshoot staff issues. 

2. Fitness Commitment Counsellor

We’ve all heard someone —ourselves or someone we know—complain about the extra kilos, pounds and stones gained during the months of pandemic-induced lockdown. The fridge full of temptations was just too close to resist, wasn’t it? To remedy the situation, the fitness commitment counsellor will help us to keep fit, supported by data from digital wearables, such as smart watches.

3. Smart Home Design Manager

Most people’s homes were not ready for the sudden move to remote working – perhaps they lacked a desk, the right chair, an office space, or all together. The rise of smart home design managers will boom as homes are built, or modernised, with dedicated home office spaces with glass walls, soundproofing, and voice-activated doors.

4. XR Immersion Counsellor

XR immersion counselors will work with companies to provide training for employees or apprenticeships for candidates to speed up deployment and increase productivity.

5. Workplace Environment Architect

Crucial to the future of work, the post-pandemic office needs to be reassessed, especially because employees’ well-being and how human-centered design of a company’s building can impact it, are now.

6. Algorithm Bias Auditor

Algorithms are a bittersweet digital dessert. They serve to us what we prefer, but they collect data that have given digital firms a competitive advantage. That only accelerated with our continued online presence during the worst times of the pandemic. On the other hand, statutory scrutiny on data is also on the rise. Verification through audits will help ensure algorithms treat everyone equally.

7. Data Detective

Data science will remain an in-demand skill. Given this high demand, data scientists are also scarce; that’s where data detectives help bridge the gap to get companies to investigate big data’s mysteries.

8. Cyber Calamity Forecaster

The COVID-19 pandemic crisis provided a great opportunity for the cyber attackers to thrive. The ability to forecast large-scale cyber attacks like SolarWinds and the Twitter attack is critical.

9. Tidewater Architect

Climate change and sea level rise will, unfortunately, remain pervasive challenges. Tidewater architects will work with nature in some of the biggest civil engineering projects of the 21st century. 

10. Human-Machine Teaming Manager

With the continuous rise of robots in the workplace, we will need specialists to foster collaboration between staff and their AI co-workers.

Top 10 job roles in increasing and decreasing demand across industries | Source: Based on Future of Jobs Survey 2020, World Economic Forum

While the COVID-19 pandemic is prompting the creation of new professions, these wouldn’t be possible without technological progress. On the other hand, if the crisis hadn’t taken place, Remotopia and the adoption of digital tools and software within companies would probably have taken much longer. It’s undeniable that the pandemic has accelerated the arrival of the future of work. In fact, the future is already here. 

 
The jobs of the future in the financial services sector

For its The Future of Jobs Report 2020, the World Economic Forum (WEF) surveyed employers operating in the financial services industry to find out what the future of jobs looks like for the sector. Companies were asked to identify the job roles in high demand and the increasingly redundant ones. The tables below show that the top three emerging professions are data analysts and scientists, big data specialists and digital marketing and strategy specialists. On the other side of the spectrum are data entry clerks, accounting, bookkeeping and payroll clerks, and administrative and executive secretaries. 

Emerging and redundant job roles | Source: Based on Future of Jobs Survey 2020, World Economic Forum

If your current job is in the right side column, you are now probably feeling fearful about the future. And rightly so. WEF’s report paints a somewhat bleak picture for the Financial Services sector, showing that a 20.8% average share of workers are at risk of displacement, which is the highest number compared to the other industries surveyed. 

The good news is that the expected redeployment success rate of the displaced workers is at 50.5%, which is also one of the highest percentages. In fact, companies are aware of the need to upskill and reskill their workforce for the jobs of the future. So much so that accelerating the digitalisation and implementation of upskilling and reskilling programmes are part of the top 5 measures organisations are planning on implementing in response to the current COVID-19 outbreak. 

When it comes to the skills companies are focusing on in their existing reskilling and upskilling programmes, critical thinking and analysis appears on top, followed by analytical thinking and innovation, and technology design and programming. However, looking at the emerging skills, we observe that soft skills such as creativity, originality and initiative, and complex problem-solving are gaining prominence.

Current skills in focus of existing reskilling/upskilling programmes and emerging skills | Source: Based on Future of Jobs Survey 2020, World Economic Forum

With soft skills being identified as in high demand, should they be considered more important as opposed to hard skills, which appear lower in the list?

 
Soft skills vs hard skills. Which one wins the jobs of the future battle?

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s not only in the financial services sector that soft skills are in high demand. In general, the top skills and skill groups that employers see as rising in prominence in the lead up to 2025 include groups such as critical thinking and analysis as well as problem-solving. Newly emerging this year are skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility, which doesn’t come as a surprise as workers face a range of pressures to adapt to new, more digital ways of working.

Top 15 Skills for 2025 | Source: Based on Future of Jobs Survey 2020, World Economic Forum

This picture begs the question: why are soft skills at the top? Well, with more and more job activities becoming automated, soft skills, which cannot yet be replicated by machines, become more important and needed. 

However, when it comes to which wins the battle – whether soft skills or hard skills – the answer is none. They are equally important and they can in fact complement each other. In our TechTalk podcast episode about skills for the digital world, Christopher Rossa, Emerging Technologies Strategist at PwC Luxembourg, pointed out that it’s clear that more jobs will require workers to acquire hard skills such as data analysis and coding, but not all of them. What’s key is to better target the training needs of each worker for their specific job of the future.

For that to happen, governments, organisations and workers must grasp the power of technology and embrace it. They must take advantage of the bounty of technological innovation which defines our era to unleash human potential. Yes, some manual labour will indeed be eliminated by intelligent machines, but far more jobs will be augmented by them. The bottom line is that workers need to have the skills for a world that is increasingly digital – that includes both soft and hard skills.

 
Final thoughts

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, change is the only constant in life. And change can be scary, particularly after years of growing income inequality, concerns about technology-driven displacement of jobs, and the combined health and economic shocks of 2020, which disrupted and will continue to disrupt the labour market.

Nevertheless, we have the capacity to reskill and upskill individuals in unprecedented numbers and to create maps which orient displaced workers towards the jobs of tomorrow where they will be able to thrive. We just need to act faster as the window of opportunity becomes shorter in the newly constrained labour market. 

As for Sebastien, the only constant in his professional path is that it will likely change. He will have to continuously learn new abilities, be upskilled and get ready for the future. He will probably train to become an Algorithm Bias Auditor. And then, what’s next for him? Which jobs will top the 2030 future jobs list, in the next, new future of work?

What we think
Virginie Laye, Director at PwC Luxembourg
Virginie Laye, Director at PwC Luxembourg

Over the past five to seven years, we have realised the need for constant training to adapt to changing technologies. For organisations, it is now clear that having the right skills in the right place at the right time has a direct impact on competitiveness.

 

In my opinion, technical and human skills should not be in conflict. Together, they form a set of essential competencies needed in the digital world.

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