Best Jobs for the Future

Given the state of the current job market, at lot of people are wondering what career path will make the most sense in the future. The reality is that two primary forces are going to impact the future job market: automation technology and globalization.

Most people tend to focus on globalization as the primary threat. Recent items in the press have noted that people are specifically looking for jobs that can't be outsourced, while at the same time manufacturing jobs continue to migrate to low wage countries.

While globalization and outsourcing are getting most of the attention, the reality is that job automation probably represents a bigger long term threat to most workers than globalization. In addition, many people will be surprised to learn that the threat from job automation is not going to be limited to low skilled/low wage workers. While it is true that robots and machines may someday take over many routine jobs in supermarkets, warehouses and fast food restaurants, many people who sit at desks using computers may be impacted even sooner.

The Best Future Jobs will be Jobs that are Protected from both Automation and Globalization

The New York Times recently had a story entitled Beware, Humans. The Era of Automation Software Has Begun. Sophisticated software may soon be capable of performing many service jobs. In the future, we can expect that many of the jobs that are now being offshored will instead by handled by automation software.

As a result, choosing a career in the future is likely to be increasingly complex. For example, the assumption that getting a college degree will always lead to a better job may not hold true, because many college graduates end up taking "knowledge worker" jobs--they end up sitting at desks using computers, but they still very often perform relatively routine and repetitive tasks (especially at the entry level). These types of jobs are likely to be highly vulnerable to both offshoring and automation at some point in the relatively near future.

Technological change is going to abrupt and unpredictable, so choosing the best job for the future may be a challenge, and it may be necessary to be flexible. The Lights in the Tunnel, includes a detailed look a the trends in automation and offshoring and gives some insight into which types of jobs are likely to relatively safe, and which ones may be among the first automated.


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