Jobs of the Future…Today?

Twenty-five percent of all jobs in America in 2025 – eight short years from now – don’t exist today. By 2050, half.

Some people believe those numbers are gross exaggerations. Me? They’re probably underestimations. One way or another, unless we’re willing to look into the future – curiously, fearlessly, and with a sense of wonder, awe, and fascination – we have a 25 percent chance of being caught flat-footed in a decade, and a fifty-fifty chance (more?) soon thereafter.

Or we can look at it another way. If we’re willing to look ahead, to meet the future before it gets here, then those odds that are mounting against the short-sighted ones among us are mounting in our favor. Easier said than done, I agree, but unarguable, and it summons something Niels Bohr said many years ago: “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”

We’re talking profound truth here.

To the fearful and unwilling, the recalcitrant and disbelieving, the lemmings and Andy Rooneys, your profound truth will be: the workplace will get further and further from reach. However, to the courageous and willing, the “I-get-it” believers, those who see change as opportunity, your profound truth will be: no end to possibilities, no limit to directions ahead.

Sound a bit lacking in definition? Perhaps even a little locker room-ish? Here’s how I know it’s not. I met with two career counselors recently and spewed those stats about percentage of future jobs. I got two divergent reactions. One, disappointingly, got shaky and defensive, asking what those jobs would be. What? We just agreed they’re in the future. We don’t know yet, for crying out loud. The shingle outside my door says Amdur Coaching, not Nostradamus.

The other, reassuringly, assumed the mantle, declaring that our job isn’t to pretend to know this, but to prepare for it and be ready to figure it out.

The difference between those two reactions is all you need to know to understand that we have a choice between two profound truths: the job market of the future, short- and long-term, will either get away from us or reach out to us.

And that evokes Henry David Thoreau’s words in Walden, even longer ago: “You must live within yourself, and depend on yourself, always tucked up and ready for a start.”

Tucked up and ready. Don’t you love that image?

I just gave a major presentation to educators, students, and community members at a prominent community college on this topic. They had asked me to address “Jobs of the Future Today” – which I started with – but where I went with it was “Twenty-One Critical Traits for the 21st Century” – a treatise on what type of individuals we should become in order to deal with a future coming at us so fast that it is, in part, behind us before we know it’s with us.

I’ve written on this in detail before, so I won’t roll it all out now. The core message is that we must focus as much, if not more, on the type of person, learner, and thinker we will be than on specific occupations we think we’re going to follow for the next 50+ years. It’s not only about skills anymore (although it will never not be about skills); it’s also about characteristics that will enable us to deal with the future – today.

Here’s one pragmatic example: graphene, a one-atom-thick layer of carbon that is 200 times stronger than steel and also more efficiently conducts heat and electricity. Scientists have theorized about it for decades, but in 2004, Andre Gelm and Konstantin Novoselov isolated the material, leading to their Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

Science changes the world, but not until business says so, and we haven’t yet seen the commercialization of graphene. But be sure of this. With its tremendous properties – and that it comes from the most plentiful substance on earth – carbon – it will change everything we do: construction, infrastructure, transportation, packaging, warfare, communications, you name it.

Everything!

Now, if you pursue this, good for you. But if all you pursue is this, then you didn’t get the message. This is intended not to steer you only to graphene, but to change your thinking about preparing for – and enjoying – the rest of your career, one that will be very different than you thought.

A ship is safest in port. But that is not where it is meant to be.

Fear not. Sail on.

Career Coach Eli Amdur conducts workshops and one-on-one coaching in Job Search, Career Planning, Resumes, and Interviewing. Please email him at eli.amdur@amdurcoaching.com or 201-357-5844 to be placed on his mailing list for his weekly blog.

 



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