How can we prepare for jobs of the future when we don’t know what they will be?

Having children makes you look to the future – you have hopes and dreams for them and want to prepare them well for what is to come. But it has occurred to me on numerous occasions that we base our decisions on what we know now, not what is likely to be the reality in the future.

We have written about the imminent arrival of driverless cars in previous blogs and just as our children when they are learning to drive will be in cars that probably don’t exist yet, the same can be said for the jobs they will go into.

I have a daughter of 12 years and a son of nine – they both talk about their careers using today’s paradigm but considering the high rate of change in areas like technology, global competition and environmental issues things will have changed a great deal when they enter the job market in ten to 15 years’ time.   This means is it very difficult for them to make learning choices based on what they want to do, when things are likely to change so much.

It brings to mind the infamous PowerPoint presentation called Shift Happens that went viral a number of years ago. It was produced by American technology teacher Karl Fisch, who wrote:

“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

Never before have schoolchildren had to prepare for the unknown in such a way. While there have been moments of radical change in history – the Industrial Revolution springs to mind – this uncertainty is a modern phenomenon because things are changing so fast.

The debate in the UK about children’s preparedness for the future is couched in terms of skills shortages and calls for better business education in schools. In the US, however, there tends to be much more activity around predicting future job trends and how education has to change to prepare the next generation.

One interesting thinker in this space is futurist Thomas Frey whose approach to understanding the future comes from spotting the major cultural, demographic, societal, and economic shifts early and translating them in to viable business strategies.

He predicts that advances in technologies like driverless cars, flying drones, 3D printers, big data and artificial intelligence, mass energy storage and robots will one day endanger job roles as diverse as taxi drivers, news reporters, building surveyors and surgeons.

Mr Frey has also come up with a list of 162 new kinds of jobs he foresees developing in our bright future – from sensor inventors and 3D food printer chefs to lifestyle auditors and lending tacticians.

Looks like my children have plenty to aim for.


Warley Design offers mechanical design, engineering and product development services to a broad range of industries. If you’ve got a project we can help you with please contact us.


Contact us

Call us now on
+44 (0)1277 261066 or
Email us