Future shock: Will your job exist in 2030?

Business must adapt to faster, hungrier age

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report for 2018 revealed that the skill sets required in both old and new occupations will change in most industries.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report for 2018 revealed that the skill sets required in both old and new occupations will change in most industries.
Image: Pixabay.com

Two billion jobs that exist today will not exist by 2030. And 60% of jobs that will exist 10 years from now have not yet been invented.

Professional futurist and NMU professor Chris Adendorff said businesses need to adapt their models to prepare for what is still to come.

While it is often debated whether the fourth industrial revolution is already here or is still coming, Adendorff said it has been here since 2012.

Preparing for what is still to come means understanding how industries will evolve, how people’s lives will become easier and the skills needed to get there.

In SA, the future needs to be considered and hope needs to be created through a mind-shift that prioritises positivity, opportunity and possibility.

Highlighting a number of key future realities, Adendorff – who holds three doctoral degrees – emphasised that he remains optimistic about what the next decade will bring.

Propella business support manager Anita Palmer with Chris Adendorff, who says SA must adapt
Propella business support manager Anita Palmer with Chris Adendorff, who says SA must adapt
Image: Deneesha Pillay

Futurists, he said, typically look at future market intelligence, long-term visioning and alignment.

“By 2030, over two billion jobs would have disappeared, freeing up talent for many fledging new industries.

“Crypto-like currencies in our immediate future will do to banks what e-mail did to our post offices in the past.

“The world’s largest internet company will be in the business of education,” he said.

“Cable television will no longer exist.

“All doctor visits will be replaced by automated exams, so the role of our GPs will differ,” Adendorff said.

“More than 90% of restaurants will use some form of 3D food printing in their meal preparations.

“Basic computer programming will be considered a core skill required in more than 20% of jobs – requiring us to prepare ourselves and our children for the future of jobs.”

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The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report for 2018 revealed that the skill sets required in both old and new occupations will change in most industries.

This will transform how and where people work.

New categories of jobs will emerge, displacing others.

“For governments, there is an urgent need to address the impact of new technologies on labour markets through upgraded education policies aimed at raising education and skills levels of individuals of all ages,” the report states.

“Relevant intervention points include school curricula, teacher training and a reinvention of vocational training for the age of the fourth industrial revolution, broadening its appeal beyond traditional low- and medium-skilled occupations.”

But workers will need to take it upon themselves to ensure lifelong learning and career development.

It is likely that the next few years will see employment growth across the architecture, engineering, computer and mathematical job families.

There will be a moderate decline in manufacturing and production roles and a significant decline in office and administrative jobs, according to the report.

Adendorff said by 2030 as the world moves towards a population of eight billion, it will see a shift in global economic power from the west to the east and more pressure on health, food, water and energy,

“Waves of automation have reshaped the global economy throughout history, but in South Africa, many in the rural community are still stuck with problems from the second industrial revolution,” he said.

“It’s very easy to be negative. A negative thinker sees a difficulty in every opportunity but a positive thinker sees an opportunity in every difficulty.

“We need to think about the several major companies that didn’t exist 10 years ago and then think about what is still to come.

“Companies like Airbnb, Tinder, Spotify and DropBox, to name a few.

“It’s a hungrier world but we’ve also become a wealthier world with choosy customers.”

He said all industries need to think about what it means for more than 75% of the workforce to be millennials – people of the screens who will not accept outdated limitations.

“South Africa will adapt, I am hopeful of that. But where we falter drastically is our education system,” Adendorff said.

“Positivity leads to possibility, and that’s how we need to embrace the fourth industrial revolution.”

According to Adendorff, the top 10 skills needed by 2020 are complex problem solving; critical thinking; creativity; people management; coordinating with others; emotional intelligence; judgment and decision-making; service orientation; negotiation; and cognitive flexibility.

“The big questions futurists are asked most often relate to when the barriers between man and machine will dissolve.

“In other words, when will machines’ intelligence overpower mankind’s intelligence.

“The future is not predictable, but we can create a preferred future if we want to.

“There is a future in everything. Whatever you can think about, there is a future in that.”

Three tiers of brave new world 

As industries and businesses all over the world adopt various technologies to improve efficiency and customer service, Professor Chris Adendorff argues that the fourth industrial revolution is made up of three core factors.

These, he said, were artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things and blockchain.

Innovation was being triggered by AI – intelligence driven by machines – which seeks to process and respond to data in a human-like way.

“The future robots are going to look exactly like you and I,” Adendorff said.

“You’ve seen Sophia, the first robot to receive citizenship by Saudi Arabia.

“Global spending in AI will rise from $8bn [R112bn] a year to $46bn [R645bn] by 2020,” Adendorff said.

“With the internet of things, you are looking at a world where anything and everything will be connected.

“It is all about technology and devices and we are just at the beginning.”

The professional futurist said this meant everything from cellphones, appliances, wearable devices and almost anything else you could think of would be connected to one another and the internet.

The final piece of the triangle, blockchain, is a mechanism to ensure accountability as well as information verification.

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“Blockchain has been in the industry for about 20 years but has not really been exploited.

“When you look what happened to Bitcoin, you see why people realised that something needs to verify information.

“That’s why Sars started getting involved. Essentially, you could take your money out of South Africa, buy cryptocurrency and take your money anywhere in the world.

“You can take all your money and go. But countries run on tax.

“Blockchain is going to prevent that kind of thing and will solve the problem of manipulation,” Adendorff said.

This AI robot once said it wanted to destroy humans. Senior correspondent Steve Kovach interviews Sophia, the world's first robot citizen.