How to prepare for a job that doesn’t exist yet


With the rise of robots, artificial intelligence and automation, today’s comfortable careers are no longer an option for jobseekers from Generation Z. The majority of learners attending school right now will one day work in jobs that do not currently exist.

Members of this generation, born from the mid 1990s through to the 2010s have to develop new skills and need to be flexible to compete against robots and automated systems that are threatening traditional jobs.

“The future isn’t all that bleak for this generation, in fact, they can look forward to excelling in fields such as technology, science and mathematics while working remotely and when they want to,” says Angelique Robbertse, product and marketing manager for Job Mail.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills remain important, especially since this generation will have to solve problems in a technology-rich environment. “Technology will provide them with both opportunities to excel and obstacles to overcome,” she says.

One of the fears is that robots will result in retrenchments as jobs are displaced, but companies are developing innovative internal skills development programmes so that workers have a fighting chance to stay employed. “Hailed as the new corporate social investment, these programmes develop both hard and soft skills within an organisation to feed the talent pipeline from within,” adds Robbertse.

Are robots really treading on traditional jobs? Associated Press publishes 3000 financial earnings reports each quarter with the help of an automated system. The same system generates millions of articles a week for other well-known news platforms and it is estimated that it can produce 2000 articles per second if need be. The thinking is that it frees up journalists’ time to enable them to tackle in-depth articles.

In Japan, global advertising agency, McCann, hired a robot as a creative director earlier this year. The agency’s reasoning is that an AI (artificial intelligence) can advise creativity, rather than substitute it.

The sharing economy, think Airbnb and Uber, that enables ordinary citizens to make their assets work for them, has given way to the gig economy where people can work when they want to. With Amazon’s Flex programme, people in certain US cities can deliver packages for the company, become their own bosses and work when it suits them.

Innovation, collaboration and transparency are all attributes that drive members of Generation Z and these are also what they look for in a workplace environment. But what traits does a future career ask of them? Critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, digital literacy, entrepreneurism and the ability to blend a variety of skills from different jobs to become a specialist in a new field are required.

The Millennial generation championed flexible work styles and a path of continuous learning during the span of their career. “It is up to Generation Z to adapt to new jobs that we can’t even fathom and possibly multiple jobs during their career,” she says.

Some of the future job titles include nano-specialists, specifically in the medical field; personalised care givers for the elderly; space farmers cultivating crops in space and on celestial objects; water supply transitionists to harvest water; avatar designers and managers managing virtual replicas of people; child designers creating children that fit the requirements of their parents; drone traffic optimisers for the commercial drone industry and driverless operating system engineers for deliveries by autonomous vehicles.

“The next generation has disorder, disruption, diplomacy, socio-cultural shifts and complex ethical issues to deal with, but it looks like they will have the tools and drive to figure it out,” says Robbertse.

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