According to a new report in Education Week, "technological change, globalization, and climate instability are happening at an accelerating pace all across the world. Artificial intelligence and automation are the engines driving much of the transformation in the workplace." Educators are increasingly aware of the need to prepare their students for a world not yet known.
While we can't adequately predict how technological change will impact the workforce and the jobs of the future, we can look to current career trends for clues to the new direction. How we work and what work looks like are rapidly shifting, which means that understanding these shifts can place our students and us ahead of the curve as we prepare for this unknown world. Four current changes in how people work can give us some idea as to how careers may look in the next twenty years:
With the rise of technology, tech startups, and more tools available for innovation, more and more people start and own their own business. We can expect that the number of people who attempt to start their own businesses – and those who are successful at it – will continue to grow. Along with increased entrepreneurship comes the need for increased innovation. Unique ideas, both in tech and outside of tech, sell. Additionally, social media allows for products, ideas, and services to reach more people, which makes advertising easier for the entrepreneur.
Today's jobs feature increased flexibility in work roles and work times. Jobs that are part-time or with telecommute options are becoming more common, even in Fortune 500 companies. The ability to "work from anywhere" is no longer a distant dream. Workers from social media managers to app coders can work from the comfort of their own homes, while in exotic locations, and in coffee shops all around the world. As technology becomes more sophisticated, the workplace of the future may be characterized by the type of flexibility that allows people to be any place at any time.
We live in an increasingly globalized economy. One aspect of this globalization is that some of the most successful companies are now based outside of the United States. Jobs of the future may be available outside of the country or may require frequent communication with international stakeholders. Our students will need to become comfortable with diversity and effective communicators to succeed as confident global citizens.
This shift will also require both entrepreneurs and employees to compete on a global level, changing both marketing strategies and goals for sales. Employees will need to be innovative and creative to predict future trends and competition.
4. Shifting Demographics
As baby boomers retire, the workforce is becoming younger and younger. Simultaneously, birthrates in the United States have been decreasing each year. Eventually, there will be more jobs than there are workers, which means that workers will be able to be much more picky in choosing their positions. The likelihood that today's students will be able to pick a job they really love is very high.
As educators, we can’t forecast exactly what the jobs of the future will look like. But we can use these current career trends to provide some indication of what our students may expect to face in the first decade of their careers. We have to make sure that they see challenges as opportunities and become lifelong, self-directed learners.
These trends can also help us to design more functional educational experiences. Gone are the days of sticking with one job for a lifetime. Today’s students will likely have several different careers, which is an additional challenge that an innovative education can help combat.