There is a growing fear amidst the working class over the impending fourth industrial revolution, and why not? There are robots running around in warehouses shipping products independently; drones that have started to deliver packages on their own, and are now prepared to carry human passengers! These apprehensions have gripped people. While it may have divided opinions and left people in a Human-Machine dilemma – leaving them wondering if jobs will become obsolete or not – it is important to look at facts to de-clutter the clouds of fear.
A McKinsey Global Institute report released in January last year looked at the potential of automation of work activities, and while it is true that there are activities within an occupation which can be automated, there is not a single occupation which can be 100% automated (95% is the maximum automation potential in predictable physical work related to food preparation and serving). As a matter of fact, there is only one job that has been lost to automation since 1950. It is the job of the elevator operator, as James Bessen points out in his working paper “How Computer Automation Affects Occupations: Technology, Jobs, and Skills.” There are certain jobs which will be completely safe, and certain new jobs will be created.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 11.5 million jobs will be created in the U.S. by 2026, which is actually an accelerated growth rate in terms of job creation when you compare it with the last decade. Even though such hard data is not available for India, it is likely that the country will follow global trends. The type of jobs though will evolve. New roles will emerge which are more attuned to the changing landscape.
In the fall of 2017, LinkedIn came out with its Emerging Jobs Report 2017. The report listed the emerging roles and skills which will be relevant in the future; the kind of roles and skills which will make up a large proportion of the 11.5 million jobs to be created in the next eight years.
What are the emerging jobs from 2017?
LinkedIn analysed its data of the last five years to find the up and coming roles to understand what “skills are needed to succeed.” The top 20 emerging jobs, based on LinkedIn’s data go as follows:
- Machine learning engineer
- Data scientist
- Sales development representative
- Customer success manager
- Big data developer
- Full stack engineer
- Unity developer
- Director of data science
- Brand partner
- Full stack developer
- Personal loan consultant
- Brand activation manager
- Head of partnerships
- Barre instructor
- Licensed realtor
- Guest experience associate
- Assurance staff
- Marketing content manager
- Site reliability engineer
- Head of customer experience
What do the emerging jobs say about the future jobs market?
The emerging jobs report and its consequent trends indicate a few things about the future jobs market. Things such as:
Technology jobs will dominate and continue to emerge, albeit in a new avatar
Almost 20 of the fastest-growing jobs have technology at their core, according to the report. As a matter of fact, the top two emerging jobs are that of a machine learning engineer and a data scientist, making three of the top five emerging jobs to be of technical nature.
The people who hold these emerging jobs today have all upgraded their skills to stay relevant and in-demand in the job market. All the top technology-related professionals have been software engineers at some stage in their careers. They have all mobilized their skills to become machine learning engineers, data scientists, and big data developers. This underscores the importance of skill mobility, and how the people who do it stay ahead of the curve. To understand the importance of reskilling, consider this example. Data scientist jobs have grown over 650% since 2012, and machine learning engineers at 980%. There are 1600 open roles in the U.S., but only 35,000 in the U.S. have data science skills.
Soft skills are of perennial importance
Not all the top 20 emerging jobs are technical in nature. Jobs like customer success manager, sales development representative require a range of soft skills to succeed. Soft skills such as communication and management “underpin all these emerging jobs.” The Emerging Jobs Report analyzed the skills that were strongly represented among the top 20 emerging jobs. Soft skills were ubiquitously important across the 20 jobs. Of course, the technical jobs require expertise in their respective fields, but that expertise has to be accompanied by a set of soft skills, such as management, communication, sales, marketing, etc.
Specialist roles on the decline
The report noted certain specialist roles to be on the decline. “From specialized developer roles to legal specialists, and even specialized logistics roles, we are seeing these roles be replaced in favour of more comprehensive skill sets and job titles,” said the report.
The last 70 years have seen the complete automation of just one job. The same may or may not be true for the upcoming 70. But what is true is that the nature of jobs will change as technologies around us advance and businesses embrace them. Hence, for the future jobseeker, it is going to be important to upskill herself to stay competitive in the future jobs market.