In hindsight, it’s easy to see that in nearly every generation, innovation impacted job markets and employment trends. It’s not news that human workers are replaced by new technology and that, fortunately, new technology spurs the creation of new jobs and job categories. The list of outdated or diminished jobs is almost nostalgic: switchboard operators, travel agents, librarians.
And twenty years from now we might be fondly recalling our former interactions with the likes of postal carriers, taxi drivers, flight attendants, and bank tellers.
In fact, the job market is an excellent barometer of society’s priorities and technology trends. Pick nearly any futurist topic we’ve explored this year and it’s not too hard to imagine the new jobs that will surround it.
In many cases, the new jobs and categories of jobs will be quite technical as people work to bring blockchain, cryptocurrency, the metaverse, self-driving transportation, and other IT innovations to fruition and then into our daily lives.
Further below, I’ve identified 57 technology-related new jobs in 15 industries that will directly support or respond to these kinds of technology breakthroughs.
It’s Not Just IT
But before we get there, we should recognize that in some cases, technology breakthroughs will lead to more than just technical jobs. Take geriatric services, for example.
Thinking beyond COVID, medical technology is extending life expectancy for seniors. That trend will continue to drive a critical demand for a variety of personal care services for retirees, who are likely to enjoy over 20 years of time after retirement at 65.
And not to overgeneralize or typecast seniors, but as technology increasingly supports our daily lives, many of them will need personalized support just to keep up. Their challenge today may be programming the TV remote or the thermostat, but it’s only going to get more complicated from there. The solution? Personal IT assistants and generalized IT help desks. Sounds like a mission for AMAC and AARP!
IT Redefining Jobs
I should also note that technology is also changing and even upgrading certain jobs, but not necessarily doing away with them. Construction workers and auto mechanics, for example, used to be generalists. But with new technology-based tools, and the need for training on those tools, specialization in these kinds of blue-collar jobs will increase. This specialization increases these workers’ labor clout, market value, and compensation.
There’s another category of jobs enhanced by technology and other tools where the job is the same but the work is not. Recently I’ve watched laborers build a retaining wall and a brick wall on the property across the street. Back-breaking work, right? Not so much as you’d think anymore. These laborers now have access to specialized backhoes, caterpillars, and other equipment downsized for residential work compared to what you’d find on a typical commercial construction site. Thanks to this equipment, you don’t see anyone carrying heavy bricks from the truck to the wall or using a shovel.
What About Retail?
The future isn’t as bright for the approximately 32 million Americans who work in retail jobs. Consumer demand isn’t going away, but how retailers choose to meet that demand will continue to evolve with technology innovations that drive efficiency.
Current trends in e-commerce and in-store automation mean there will be fewer traditional customer-facing jobs. But some of these will be replaced by new jobs managing these platforms and servicing these systems. As with the next generation of blue-collar jobs, these specialty positions may require specialized skills with a level of IT training.
Basically we will see technology taking away much of the mind-numbing tedium of retail just as it did for so many factory workers.
The Cool New Jobs
So far we’ve only talked about incremental changes and the evolution of current employment situations. On another level, we’ll see entire new professions within entire new industries built around new technology. We’ll see job descriptions that weren’t even imaginable 20 years ago.
Yes, there will be high-level computer science jobs with smart people creating new breakthroughs and new versions of breakthroughs.
But at the same time, there will be the need to define and fill some less-obvious positions along with spin-off jobs made possible and necessary by those breakthroughs.