As we enter 2018, ‘digital’, ‘big data’, ‘artificial intelligence’, ‘automation’, and ‘machine learning’ have become more than just buzzwords. They are increasingly shaping the future of work and jobs. Despite high concerns about humans losing their jobs to automation — a concern that has existed since the dawn of the industrial age — the fact remains that the future of jobs has never been brighter. The reason for this optimism stems from a holistic view of the latest trends in today’s machine age, and it is based on sound logic. There are still many qualities of the human mind that a machine cannot match. This establishes the ingenuity and indispensability of humans in performing jobs, many of which will evolve, enabled by technology.
Though work changes, it does not go away. Based on major macroeconomic, political, demographic, societal, cultural, business and technology trends observable today, we have envisioned a set of 21 hitherto unimaginable jobs that would provide sustainable employment to scores of people in the coming decade. And the foundation may well be laid in 2018.
Job descriptions such as walker/talker, fitness commitment counsellor, digital tailor, ethical sourcing manager, AI business development manager, man-machine teaming manager and bring-your-own IT facilitator are among the low-to-mid tech jobs that are expected to be on the HR’s radar in the coming five years. Virtual store Sherpa, highway controller and personal memory curator are also expected to come into vogue in the latter part of the decade.
Jobs such as master of edge computing, data detective, quantum machine learning analyst, AI-assisted healthcare technician, cyber city analyst, chief trust officer, financial wellness coach, genomic portfolio director, augmented reality journey builder and genetic diversity officer would become a reality in the next five years.
All these jobs would share the common theme of 3Cs: Coaching, Caring and Connecting: Coaching being the human ability to help others get better at life, Caring being the human endeavour of improving people’s health, and Connecting being the intellectual leverage only humans can bring in connecting man with machine, traditional with shadow IT, physical with virtual, and most importantly, commerce with ethics.
The year 2018 will be a crucial year in furthering this vision of the future of jobs based on a deep understanding of how humans evolve through change. Work has always changed, and will continue to change. The current work that is tedious and repetitive will get automated. Machines will need humans — always. It would be naïve to underestimate human imagination or ingenuity. And while technology will upgrade all aspects of the society, it will not only solve, but also create new problems, which again would require humans.
The author is Senior Director, Centre for the Future of Work, Cognizant