5 ways to prepare yourself for the 133,000,000 jobs of the future
Do I have some excellent news for you! According to those smart people at McKenzie, there will be 133,000,000 new jobs by 2030.
Let me clarify.
These are not 133 Million new openings at companies. These are 133 million roles that don't exist today.
Nobody's written job descriptions for these roles
Nobody's even made up titles for these jobs
There's certainly been no thought as to the career paths for these roles
Here's another data point from the same report. This one might make you turn a little grey. Seventy-three million roles that exist today are going to vanish. As I'm sure you know, this is significantly due to the rise in automation across all sectors.
Is that a news flash? Yes and no, because machines and technology have been replacing human jobs since the invention of the wheel. Ok, for sure since the start of the industrial revolution—way back in the late 1700s—which was responsible for roles like bookbinder, milliner, farrier, and cutler becoming rarer, if not completely forgotten, today.
You might be scared, even if you've seen this workplace evolution coming. Lots of people are. I keep getting asked, "What does one do about this? What are the new roles, and how does one prepare for them?"
Not surprisingly, I have some thoughts.
Start watching Star Trek.
Do you want to know what jobs will exist in the future? I can't think of a better place to look for inspiration than Star Trek. Other than the poor fella in the red shirt (who will inevitably die,) every character holds a job that gives you a glimpse into the workplace in 2030. Lt. Ohura is a perfect example. Are you interested in languages? Amy Adams’ character in The Arrival showed us all the importance of that skill set.
Be an eternal student.
We spend over 11,000 hours in our early life learning new things. In today's world, groundbreaking concepts that change the status quo are manifesting on an almost monthly basis. I want you to imagine the person you know who is stuck in the past because they refuse to learn about a new technology or system. Every day, it's becoming easier for more of us to fall into that trap.
So I spend at least 1-2 hours every week listening to podcasts. It's not enough to truly keep up, but it is enough for me to have a basic understanding of blockchain and how it works. It's enough for me to see how AR and VR are different, and why people are now talking about XR.
I also read. Susan Hockfield and her book about The Age of Living Machines had me enthralled. I'm still a bit confused by the subject, but I'm interested to learn more.
Am I looking for a job? No. Not even slightly. But by feeding my brain information and stories about what's to come, I'm growing the ability to see the future problems that need solving.
Learn how to break the rules.
This recommendation comes directly out of myown playbook, and that of my peers and friends from the Web 1.0 generation. From 1995–2015, I lived in a world of startups. I had SO many job titles that never existed before (hands up readers who were IBAs once upon a time, I know you're out there) and worked on projects aimed at "making things better and faster by leveraging technology."
If they're being honest, anyone who was part of the original dot com craziness would tell you that we were making things up as we went along. There was no rule book. We had to figure it out because our bosses didn't know the answers either.
It was fabulous, and I loved every second of it. We learned how to build things from nothing, and more importantly, build things from nothing inside a moving and complex machine (aka our companies). This way of working resulted not only in producing impactful work but also allowed us to write our job descriptions and give ourselves our titles.
Even if you currently work in a more defined job, can you think of ways to invent within it and give the role you play a unique name? You'll want to get practice at that if you're going to thrive in one of those 133,000,000 new jobs.
Get uncomfortable on purpose.
The first time I went to the TED conference in 2016, I felt SO uncomfortable. I didn't know anyone, and I was surrounded by people who knew WAY more stuff than I did about basically everything. The voice in my head—the itty bitty shitty committee—yelled, "You've done nothing and don't deserve to be here" every 2-3 minutes. And yet, I've kept going back, year after year.
Pushing myself to "punch above my perceived weight class" gets me comfortable with being uncomfortable. More importantly, it reminds me of how fun scary things can be. Like TED, this future we're heading towards is full of intimidating and unfamiliar situations. It's going to be a bit scary and undoubtedly uncomfortable at times. The more practiced you are at being uncomfortable, the easier it’ll be for you to run full tilt towards opportunities.
Provide value with your thinking.
In 2030, you might find yourself without a job if you measure success by how productive you are. Machines and technology are always faster and cheaper (if not better) than humans at "productivity" work. Harsh, but true.
I've talked about articulating how you think ad nauseum. (Need a refresher? Go read about it here, here, and here). The importance of sharing how you think applies to everyone. And I mean everyone.
Example? I have a weakness for Smitten Ice Cream. It's so exquisite I've been there twice in the last several months. Now, they have a bit of an involved purchase process. One of the steps is to ask my name. Shockingly (insert sarcastic voice here) I don't follow the standard procedure—diva, I know. Of course, I could, but giving my name is a dumb step, and it slows things down.
Soda Jerk number 1 figured out that in my case, they didn't need a name and didn't ask me for it. When I looked at the receipt, I noticed they'd bypassed that step in the process by putting their name in the system (clearly it required it.)
Soda Jerk number 2 wouldn't let me purchase ice cream until I gave them my name. "Because the system says I must have a name," they insisted.
The occasional lack of human skills is not enough to keep me away from this place. But I'll go on record to say that the Soda Jerk who used their brain will thrive in the modern workplace. I hope the second one learns and learns quickly. Because in the future, your ability to think about how to solve problems is what will get you hired, no matter what your role is.
I get it.
Change is hard. Changing when you don't know how to predict the future is even harder. It can feel impossible to make changes in our behaviors and mindsets when what we're working towards is unclear.
But the sooner you start practicing these ideas, the easier it will be for you to transition into the future of work. Because ready or not, the future of 133,000,000 jobs in and 73,000,000 out is coming.
And remember, scary can be a heck ton of fun.
PS. What I particularly like about Star Trek is that you have an enormous cadre of content (566 hours in total - that’s 23 days.) Plus, everything starts with the Prime Directive, which in this crazy world makes me more of a future optimist. Bonus: what a fun thing to watch with your kids?
PPS. Smitten Ice Cream is so bloody delicious I've started calling myself "Tang of Shang"—after the reported first person to make ice cream back in 618 AD.