Imagining Innovation: Preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet

Published November 28, 2022, 11:32 AM

by MB Technews

Today’s job market is constantly changing. Hybrid work, outsourcing, increasing digitization, and so much more are redefining what it means to compete in the job market and keep a business afloat. 

Arguably the most significant issue around the future of work is the development of automation enabled by technologies like robotics, advanced data analytics, artificial intelligence, and more. These technologies promise to make all our lives easier and exponentially increase productivity. Yet there are still concerns over where rapid technological advancements will leave behind people without the necessary skills to work in tech. 

Educational institutions need to take a good look at themselves and ask whether they are really preparing undergraduates for a world where tech plays an increasingly bigger role. Today’s job market moves fast—it’s possible that the most in-demand job 10 years from now doesn’t even exist yet. 

So how do you prepare tomorrow’s workforce for jobs that don’t exist yet? 

The Jobs That Tomorrow Will Need

The good news is that it isn’t hard to get a general idea of what kind of jobs we’ll need five to ten years from now. Reports released by the World Economic Forum reiterate that greater adoption of technology will have an impact on in-demand skills across jobs everywhere. In general, mainstay skills like critical thinking and problem-solving will now have to be used together with technology design, programming, technology monitoring, and other tech-related skills. In fact, it’s estimated that 50% of all employees will need reskilling to still perform efficiently. 

Increasingly available data points enabled by technology also mean that data analytics will be a lucrative career path in the future. The world will need data scientists who can help turn complicated data sets into practical, easy-to-use applications in both everyday life and business. Thus establishing a solid understanding of the basics, including data modeling, relational databases, and basic statistical analysis will be crucial for today’s students.

The skills mentioned above are likely to play a role in the kind of jobs that will be in demand tomorrow. Take the metaverse, for example. The metaverse immersive virtual space where people replicate their real-life interactions—built on layers and layers of data. As businesses make their way into the metaverse, they’ll need to process all the newly available data efficiently. Who else would they turn to other than data analysts?

Emerging technologies like the metaverse and artificial intelligence will also need programmers and innovators who will know how to grow, protect, and innovate these platforms. While we may not know the exact job title for these future jobs (metaverse data analyst? Virtual reality platform programmer?), we do know what skills tomorrow’s employees will need. That alone should be enough to get people moving in the right direction. 

Shaping Tomorrow’s Workforce

Many of today’s educational institutions understand that they have the responsibility of shaping the future workforce. The good news is that many do a good job of taking on this responsibility accordingly. For instance, it’s not hard these days to find scholarships targeting students taking up courses in science, tech, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Across Europe and North America, both scholarships and programs in data science, computer science, applied statistics, etc are more popular than ever. 

In fact, between 2010 and 2018 (the most recent year for which data is available) the Pew Research Center found that the number of STEM bachelor’s degrees awarded grew by 62%, compared with a 20% growth for all degrees. From 2010 to 2018, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in computer science even doubled. One can only imagine what that figure is today. 

Similar initiatives also exist in the Philippines. Educational institutions like Far Eastern University (FEU) have even gone as far as establishing new campuses to answer the increasing demand for tech-focused programs. 

Established back in 1992, the FEU Tech campus in Sampaloc, Manila has long offered future-ready programs such as a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Science with specialization in Software Engineering, BS in Information Technology with specialization in Animation and Game Development, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with specialization in Web and Mobile Applications, and a Bachelor in Multimedia Arts. 

There are even new specializations such as the BS Computer Science with specialization in Data Science, BS Information Technology with specialization in Innovation and Business, and BS Information Technology with specialization in Business Analytics. Each program is designed specifically to answer the demand for future employees skilled in design thinking, marketing principles, project management, software development, and more. On top of being offered at the FEU Tech campus, these programs are also available at the FEU Alabang campus in Filinvest City, Muntinlupa. 

These programs even add the extra effort of partnering with tech-focused enterprises and startups to give students hands-on work experience even before graduating. Recently, FEU Tech formalized a partnership with business process outsourcing giant Accenture to initiate research and development programs on the use of 5G and Industry X technologies.

Programs like those offered at both FEU Tech and FEU Alabang acknowledge that students need dynamic, relevant skills to future-proof themselves and stay competitive in tomorrow’s job market. If Filipino students hope to play a role in shaping the world of tomorrow, institutions should follow FEU Tech’s example. 

Looking Ahead

Despite the progress made, there is still much work to do in preparing a labor force sufficient for the jobs of the future. As acknowledged by the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, the majority of business leaders (94%) now expect employees to pick up new skills on the job – a sharp rise from 65% in 2018. It’s estimated that up to 40% of employees will have to spend up to six months reskilling, while those in the consumer industry and health and healthcare industry may need even more time. 

The road ahead will not be easy. Many workers are likely to find their skillsets obsolete within the next 10-20 years if they don’t take time to upskill. Whole nations may find their workforce’s competitiveness significantly reduced. Both employers and educational institutions need to take note and pull out all the stops to ensure employees remain innovative and skilled. 

The best time to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow was yesterday. The second-best time is now.