Advances in digital technology and developments like robotics and automation are causing upheaval in the world of work, forcing educators to adapt to these needs and the skills required to teach their students.
While technology is decreasing the demand for some jobs, it is also creating opportunities for people to develop and use new technologies. Furthermore, it's creating demand for new skills and jobs – roles that will be critical in a dynamic and fluid economy where established jobs and industries are continually being disrupted.
The skills of the future – adaptability and resilience
So what skills will the top jobs of the future require?
The three ‘R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic – will always be important, but children today must learn – or be taught – to be adaptable. They also need to be nimble and resilient in the face of fast-moving change, and be willing to learn new skills throughout their working life. In the workplace of the future, key skills will include digital literacy, creativity and problem-solving.
Future job trends and forecasts
Projections by the Australian government for the local labour market highlight five growing sectors:
- Healthcare and social assistance.
- Professional, scientific and technical services.
- Education and training.
- Accommodation and food services.
In the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics job growth forecasts (2016–26) also highlight healthcare as a major growth area, with healthcare support occupations and healthcare practitioners among the fastest-growing sectors. Computer and mathematical occupations are also projected to see significant growth over the next decade.
Predicting what the top jobs of the future will be is driven by a range of factors, including demographic data, as well as technological and economic factors. These roles include:
1. Aged and disabled carers
Ageing populations place a strain on healthcare systems and resources, but our increased life expectancy will present opportunities for aged and disabled carers in residential aged-care settings.
2. Physical therapists
As we age, we tend to incur injuries and illness more often, and need physical therapy to recover – which will drive demand for physical therapists.
3. Registered nurses
Like carers and physical therapists, registered nurses are on the frontline of the healthcare sector, providing and caring for an ageing population in a hospital setting.
4. Agricultural managers
Once upon a time we called them farmers, but let’s not get bogged down with semantics. Food security will be a big issue in the future, so any job related to agribusiness – and especially emerging sectors like aquaculture operations – will be in demand.
5. Software and applications programmers
Software and applications programmers are a specialist role with a very high skill rating, and they have a crucial part to play in the evolving digital economy. They not only ensure programs and applications perform to specification, but develop new features and standalone applications.
6. ICT support and test engineerss
Another role that is crucial to keeping digital infrastructure running, ICT support and test engineers are in short supply but high demand – so these roles are already top jobs of the future.
7. Tourism and hospitality
Mining has long dominated our economy and has impacted the number of workers available to the tourism and hospitality sector – meaning there are lots of vacancies in a sector poised for growth.
8. Data analysts
The world is swimming in data, and we need help making sense of it all – which why data scientists will be in great demand in the workplace of the near future.
9. Robotics engineers
Otherwise known as the field of mechatronic engineering, robotics is set to play a big part in our future, as automation begins to replace many established roles and functions.
10. Teachers and teachers' aides
Teaching is one role that is very unlikely to be automated or disrupted in the near future, which means it will continue to be an in-demand profession well into the future – especially for high-demand subject areas like maths and science.
Teachers will need to pass on very different skills if students are going to perform in the digital workplace of the future – with adaptability and resilience key skills.