The Jobs of the Future: What Roles Will be In-Demand in 15 Years Time?

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Remote working and four-day weeks are just the beginning of a working revolution in the UK.

Key Points:

  • Low-orbit satellite development could be our engineer’s bread and butter
  • Flying ride factories may replace traditional automotive workplaces
  • Medical executives will take charge of employee resilience

After the grinding economic slow-down, brought about by COVID-19, career innovation seems not only improbable but fantastical.

But climate change, AI advancement, Brexit, and Gen Z entering the workplace inevitably forces innovation and ingenuity, shaping new career paths in the next 15 years.

It’s time to bring on a brave new world of working, in roles we have only dreamt of. So, what is the future of work and which roles will be in-demand? Let’s find out!

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#1. Satellite Engineer

London-based firm, OneWeb, secured financial backing to complete 650 satellites in 2021 in the UK. The new fleet will join its existing 254 Low Earth Orbit constellation probes already in the stratosphere.

The low orbit system will deliver high-speed, more powerful, internet access to the most remote areas of the UK.

OneWeb can already design and manufacture functioning probes and satellites, with the capabilities to launch vessels. Working in broadband has never been so adventurous!

The funding secured is worth £1.73 billion. Interestingly, it was raised via a bail-out from the UK Government as a surprising consequence of Brexit.

Exiting the EU also meant surrendering access to the European Space Agency’s Galileo system – a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and the Public Regulated Service (PRS), which allowed for encrypted military positioning.

OneWeb’s initial ambitions to bring broadband to the most remote areas of the UK has now accelerated to see the brand go head-to-head with Starlink, Elon Musk’s satellite broadband system which delivers broadband globally.

Flight dynamic mission analyst and principal engineer, position navigation and timing are two London based jobs, propelling workers into the future right now.

OneWeb’s Global Navigation Satellite System will be live by 2026.

#2. Medical Executives and Officers

Every workplace has a health and safety policy. They exist to keep everyone safe and healthy and to ensure every business complies with UK law.

But in the wake of COVID, businesses need a strategy for safeguarding against new virus strains, and staff members who meaningfully understand the implications and impact of guidance from the WHO, NHS and UK Government.

Health and safety roles we recognise now may evolve into medical positions. For example, a medical executive who can draw up a blueprint and strategy for keeping people well, and medical officers who can roll out the approach.

This could be an opportunity for doctors, nurses and other expert healthcare professionals to side-step into the private sector. But it also could be a new avenue for school leavers, synergising medical and business studies.

#3. Green Manufacturing Roles

In the UK, all greenhouse gas emissions must be net-zero by 2050, ending our contribution to global warming.

That commitment has created a need for new skills. But, many existing manufacturing skills can be repurposed to meet net-zero targets.

The Friends of the Earth addressed the urgent need for green jobs in its report An emergency plan on green jobs for young people. It recognised there was a skills shortage in wind and marine energy supply chains in particular, but across manufacturing, there were four key sectors in need of job role innovation:

Heat pump manufacturing

Engineering and component assembly workers in boiler manufacture, refrigeration and automotive could find new opportunities in heat pump manufacture. The process is very similar, making existing skills very transferrable.

Vehicles and batteries manufacturing

Friends of the Earth found that this area of manufacturing would require “factory systems engineers, database development engineers, and thermal management engineers with a higher order of skills (including PhDs) than usual in automotive manufacturing.”

Remanufacturing and refurbishment

This is an area of ‘life cycle engineering’ where your role would be focused on eliminating waste or finding ways to make use of the waste products.

Hydrogen electrolysis and storage

Green hydrogen is tipped to become the biggest source of net-zero fuel. This is an opportunity for those who want to specialise in chemical industries, as hydrogen electrolysers will be required to separate out the elements from natural sources.

#4. Flying Rides and Driverless Car Engineers

In June 2021, the first flying car completed a successful test flight between Nitra and Bratislava, in Slovakia.

The AirCar, created by Prof Stefan Klein, boasts a BMW engine and runs on regular petrol.

Consultant company Morgan Stanley thought the sector could be worth $1.5trillion (£1tn) by 2040.

Aerospace engineers may find new opportunities in flying car factories, and drivers could be piloting flying rides in 20 years.

Back on the ground are driverless cars. And not just petrol and diesel models, electric driverless vehicles are already being trialled in Cambridge city centre.

The Department for Transport announced that automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS) would be the first type of hands-free driving legalised in 2021. It’s going to normal, pretty soon, to see ALKS in the lane next to you, and those vehicles will need expert technicians to keep them moving.

Not to mention infrastructure inventors dreaming up methods to accommodate and enhance the technology.

#5. HR Personnel Manager (Robotics and AI division)

HRs could be charged with robotic employee management.

Futuristic personnel managers could be asked to handle the professional development, hiring and firing, and relations of their AI team members.

Yes, robots are already getting hired, earning a salary, and losing their jobs.

Pepper, a robot that can read emotions, was manufactured by a Japan-based company, SoftBank Group Corp, in 2014. It was leased it to 2,000 businesses who needed assistance, for $550 a month.

“Pepper is the world’s first social humanoid robot able to recognize faces and basic human emotions. Pepper was optimized for human interaction and is able to engage with people through conversation and his touch screen.”

But Pepper is far from perfect. The humanoid robot has been sacked, countless times after a flurry of mishaps across Japan. The small robot was hired by Nissei Eco Co to chant prayers during funerals, but the company fired the robot for its consistent inability to perform on-demand.

The head of Future Robotics Technology Centre at the Chiba Institute of Technology, Takayuki Futura, told the Wall Street Journal that because Pepper “has the shape of a person, people expect the intelligence of a human. The level of the technology completely falls short of that…”

Those miscommunications and frustrations need managing if robots like Pepper will become more commonplace in the years to come. HRs may find themselves coaching humans on how to interact with their new colleagues and liaise directly with engineers to refine the performance of the droids.

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#6. Next Generation Cyber Security

Suspicious emails, phone calls and text messages? They aren’t going away any time soon. And fortunately, two steps ahead of every criminal tactic is a cybersecurity expert, blocking pervasive hacking and fortifying your security.

The roles are focused on threat detection and resilience. A futuristic job title could describe managing cyber defences, prevention and detection testing, cyber threat and global detection intelligence, or firefighting and response to infiltration.

#7. Data Analysts

Data drives the world’s economies. That’s one of the opening statements made by the Minister of State for Media and Data, the Rt Hon John Whittingdale OBE MP, in his report “Quantifying the UK Data Skills Gap“.

One of the closing statements is that the data skills shortfall cost £6.33 billion in 2018 alone.

The report describes the rapid need to overhaul of mathematic curriculum to ensure a fully data-literate population, making statistical analysis a standard skill.

According to the report, 81% of all employees say data is somewhat or very important to their industry, rising to 85% in education and 83% in banking. But poor numeracy skills means that 75% of people surveyed would be eliminated from using basic data to do comparative price analysis and household budgeting.

Data specialists are needed in every industry, so it’s not so much that new roles would be created, it’s that the existing roles would be vastly improved.

An injection of mathematical skills would raise the benchmark of job roles in data, helping to improve business performance, raise salary and offer more targeted and specific training opportunities for entry-level roles.

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#8. Transport and healthcare for the ageing population

According to the UN, there are expected to be 1.5 billion people over the age of 65 on Earth in 2050. In 2019, there were just 703 million.

The Office of National Statistics says:

“By 2066 there will be a further 8.6 million projected UK residents aged 65 years and over, taking the total number in this group to 20.4 million and making up 26% of the total population. This increase in numbers is broadly equivalent to the size of the population of London today.”

The ageing population will place demands on transport services and the health and social care system.

The ONS found that elderly people are more likely to live in rural areas, so services like buses, trains and taxis need to be plentiful, and accessible.

Future executive transport roles will draw on civil engineering skills, and be focused on developing and troubleshooting complex rural infrastructure proposals. Is it possible to bring convenient, city standards of public transport to areas ill-equipped and resistant to increased traffic?

Meanwhile, the ageing population are extra susceptible to chronic health conditions, putting pressure on health and social care workers in the community.

The long-term consequences of coronavirus also come into play. The longevity of long COVID is yet to be discovered, but in June 2021, 2m people in England had experienced the symptoms for more than 12 weeks .

If people suffer the symptoms for the rest of their lives, it will be a major issue for the NHS and healthcare sector caring for an ageing population.

Innovation may arrive in how workers are assigned their cases, and the type of treatments they can offer at home, as opposed to a hospital, or another healthcare environment.

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6 Roles that will never go out of style

There are six pivotal roles that society has relied upon for hundreds of years. The skills involved in these roles will only be enhanced by invention and innovation, rather than replaced:

  1. Accountant : “The Father of Accounting and Bookkeeping” was Luca Pacioli. The Italian mathematician, who collaborated with Leonardo Di Vinci, no less, was the first person to publish a book about double-entry bookkeeping in 1494. The career path has not disappeared in more than 500 years, and even though AI can pick up some of the stock takes, and assists with fraud detection, there’s no risk of this career path disappearing any time soon.
  2. Solicitor: The first lawyers appeared in ancient Athens and were called ‘orators’, but the first group we would recognise as professional solicitors emerged in 1150, practising canon law. Almost 900 years later, they are still a critical societal cog.
  3. Teacher: The first teacher in human history is often attributed to the ‘The Father of Modern Education’, and Dutch philosopher, John Amos Comenius, born in 1592. Teaching our children and young adults will never go out of fashion.
  4. Doctor or Nurse : The first physician on record is Egyptian chancellor, Imhotep, but he had many strings to his bow, acting as an architect, sage and astrologer for Pharaoh Djoser, who reigned between 2630–2611 BC. As mentioned, medical professions will continue to be of upmost importance.
  5. Engineer: Imhotep is also recognised as the world’s first engineer, constructing the step Pyramid of Djoser. Engineering skills are critical for the advancement and preservation of civilisation.
  6. Software developer: Mathematician, Ada Lovelace, was born in 1815 and the first computer programmer, publishing notes that describe a stepwise sequence of operations for solving certain mathematical problems. Software developers are needed, and will continue to be needed, for nearly every business around the world.

Whichever industry you’re interested in pursuing in the future, there’s no better place to start than with an apprenticeship. Secure your future career by taking a look at the apprenticeships we have available here at TSW Training Apprenticeships.

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Matthew Channell
Matthew is TSW Training’s Commercial Director. He writes about performance focussed learning, leadership, and management approaches that have real-world, sustainable impact.
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