What future jobs will look like

By Graeme Codrington 

One of the most watched TED videos is economist, Andrew McAfee’s “What Will Future Jobs Look Like”, and this forms the basis of today’s lesson.

Before you watch the video, consider these three questions:

  • What is the most exciting, interesting or disturbing technology innovation you’ve seen recently? Andrew will suggest that over the next few years we’ll see more and more real-life news stories that sound like science fiction - do you have any examples of this in your world already?
  • Are you nervous that robots and algorithms could take your job in the near future? Andrew suggests that the first level of development of robots in the workplace will be that they replace the boring, drudge-work of our daily jobs, leaving us to do the creative, relational and enjoyable bits; and also giving us more free time. Do you agree?
  • McAfee will suggest a number of things that could go wrong with our world if robots come to the workplace. What problems do you foresee?

Now, click here to watch the 14 minutes video 

Now, think about these issues:

  • Which parts of your job could be replaced by robots, machines or software algorithms? Be honest about this: even if your job is filled with tasks that are complex, and traditionally have been reserved for highly trained professionals, if the tasks involve very little original thought or involve following a prescribed process, then they can be automated. This includes almost all accounting and engineering functions, it includes all the work of a GP while diagnosing medical issues and prescribing treatment, it includes a lot of what investment bankers do as well as plumbers, electricians and gardeners. It’s not everything you do, but there are many aspects of your job - what I am calling ‘tasks’ - that can, and will be automated. Which parts of your job will be replaced?
  • What types of tasks will not be replaced by the machines in the near future? My lists starts with things like creativity, relationships, complex problem solving and intuition. What would you add to this list?
  • What human skills do you think are going to be most important when half our work is done by machines?

You’ll learn a lot more about this topic in this course, and in the other courses in the Future of Work Academy. But for now, we need to be honest about the challenge facing us in the next few years. We believe that there will be many more jobs created than destroyed in the next few years, but they will be very different jobs from today’s list. And the future doesn’t belong to the professionals anymore, it belongs to those who understand and prepare themselves for the future of work. That’s what the Academy is about.