There’s an awful lot of doomsday chatter about the future of the workforce and how all our jobs will be replaced by robots by 2020. A lot of that might be true. The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Future of Jobs Report estimated that over 5 million jobs will be lost to automation by that time—and that number will only continue to grow. Your usual fall back jobs—you know those “safe bets” your parents always lectured you about: manufacturing, law, administrative jobs, etc.—these will probably suffer the most cuts.
But the good news is this: in times of great change, there’s always room for the enterprising and entrepreneurial to clean up. It’s just that there will be new and different skills to master—skills that will be most valuable in a new economy and in a changing world.
Here are some of the top skills you’ll need if you want to get a leg up on the future of the workforce.
Tech skills will of course be in high demand, as will anything to do with “computational thinking.” If the world is being taken over by computers, you’ll need to think like one. Learn to manage and synthesize the massive amounts of data we already process daily—and make sense of patterns.
Jobs that will be fairly secure include: software developer, computer systems analyst, market research analyst, and marketing specialist—among other positions. In short: boost your analytical skills.
2. Soft Smarts
If you’re just not a techie person, never fear. It will take a very long time for robots to be as emotionally intelligent as people, or as socially savvy. Focus on social intelligence and literacy with new media forms and platforms and you’ll be just fine. Sales, marketing, customer service, etc. are all the new “safe bets.”
3. World Building
Virtual reality already feels like a retro technology, but it’s here to stay. And it’s appearing more and more in everyday use. If you have skills that can lead to creating, managing, and manipulating virtual worlds, you’re golden. Also, storytelling skills will prove to be invaluable. It’s not all CGI bells and whistles. Someone has to make the worlds believable.
Unfortunately, “being adaptable” isn’t really a thing you can get paid to do exactly, but it is a skill you’ll need for almost anything in the changing workforce. Expand yourself and your mind, get outside your comfort zone and stay there—comfort zones will be disappearing altogether.
Also make sure to learn and understand deeply how business works. Figure out ways to make a living as an independent contractor, or scout jobs in management analysis, accounting, and auditing.