Professions with a future – will your profession still exist in the future?

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Professions with a future

Do you know the story of the frog in the saucepan? If you put it in hot water, it jumps out immediately – and saves its life. If you put it in a pot of cool water and slowly bring it to the boil, the frog does not notice the change in time – and dies.

Humans tick in a very similar way and for a long time refuse to take changes seriously and react to them. Have you ever thought about whether your profession will still exist in ten years’ time?

Digitalization and automation will cause many professions to disappear or change fundamentally in the coming years. Which professions are these? What will change? And how can you prepare for your professional future? We explore these questions in our article.

Which professions will disappear in the future?

As we can already see, there are fewer and fewer professions selling, teaching or advising: We no longer buy our books and music in bookshops or record stores, but from online providers. We are also getting more and more knowledge and advice online. In particular, professions that live from having more information than the customer, preparing it and passing it on, will die out in the long term. Just a few years ago, if you wanted to rent an apartment, you needed a real estate agent; if you wanted to book a flight, you went to a travel agency. These services are being used less and less. The trend: continuing to fall. People of older generations who actually still go to travel agencies and look at catalogs there are slowly becoming fewer and fewer. And it is almost impossible to explain the purpose of a travel agency to young people, as they have probably never set foot in a travel agency, even if they have traveled a long way.
And a few more tasks can already be carried out by machines today: There are already robots in Japan that work in hotels, for example as receptionists; there are computers that take on journalistic tasks and issue reports on the weather, earthquakes and even homicides. Robots can also be used as bosses – and to the satisfaction of their human employees, as a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows.
Even caring professions can be supported by robots, as is already the case in Japan and the USA. This is also the aim in Germany. For example, the assistance robot “Carobot” is already being tested in a nursing home, as this 7-minute video report from ARD documents.

According to Dr.-Ing. Dagmar Dirzus, Managing Director of the VDI/VDE Society for Measurement and Automation Technology (GMA), “global networking and mobile computers, increasingly powerful artificial intelligence and self-learning machines will automate a significant proportion of the work that still requires people today”.
Jobs that consist of repetitive activities and require little interaction, creativity or human interaction will become increasingly fewer and eventually disappear altogether.
On the other hand, the areas of service and support are becoming ever larger. Empathy, interdisciplinary interaction and creativity will play a major role in future job profiles. Future generations will have to ask themselves the following questions: What can I contribute to this service society? What kind of service will it be? And do I even want to provide service?

What do current studies say?

In 2013, Frey and Osborne published a study that was much discussed: “The Future of Employment”. They examined occupations in terms of their suitability for automation and came to the conclusion that 47% of jobs in the USA are highly likely to be taken over by robots and artificial intelligence in the next two decades. The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs had the study transferred to German conditions. Following the study’s approach, it was found that 42% of occupations in Germany could theoretically also be automated. However, the situation was viewed from a broader perspective: a look was taken at the different activities that a profession involves. Many of these activities can be carried out by machines; however, there are also activities in most professions that are very difficult to automate. In this respect, it is foreseeable that job profiles will change fundamentally. With the focus on job structures, the likelihood of automation also changed: In Germany, only 12% of jobs were now most likely to be replaced by computer-controlled processes; in the USA, the figure was only 9%.
The research institute of the Federal Employment Agency, the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), also looked at the substitutability potential of jobs.

The results:

– “On average, both unskilled and skilled jobs have a higher potential for substitution than jobs that typically require a higher qualification.
– Occupations in industrial production have a high potential for substitution, while occupations in social and cultural services have a low potential for substitution.
– In 2013, around 15 percent of employees subject to social security contributions in Germany worked in an occupation in which more than 70 percent of activities could already potentially be performed by computers.
– However, it is unlikely that professions will disappear completely. Rather, existing professions will change to a greater or lesser extent.
– In order to keep knowledge and skills up to date with the latest technology, (further) education is becoming increasingly important – not only for low-skilled workers, but also for skilled workers.”

Source: The IAB study “Consequences of digitalization for the world of work – there is hardly any profession in which people can be completely replaced ” by Katharina Dengler and Britta Matthes

It is assumed that the automation of activities in a profession gives employees the opportunity to focus on other activities that cannot be automated. Completely new jobs and fields of work will also emerge: Just as the invention of the car made the profession of coachman obsolete, it also gave rise to the professions of chauffeur and driver, among others.

>>> Read here:
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What will the jobs of the future be like?

The jobs of the future will tend to be project-based. People will join together in brain pools to work on projects in changing constellations. Networked via electronic media, we will work together with colleagues around the world. A client’s project is completed within six months or a year. After that, you are available to Brainpool again – for the next project.
Regardless of the type of job, the form of employment and working conditions will fundamentally change. You no longer sign an employment contract with an employer who manufactures a product or offers a service. Instead, you connect with a brainpool company that ensures that the right people and skills – who may be based in different countries – are connected and networked in such a way that they can fulfill the customer’s order. Due to project-based work, it is to be expected that there will be significantly more self-employed people than permanent employees.

Professions with a future:

How can the younger generation prepare?

Of course, you need a good school and university education. But the traditional school and university system offers no opportunities to develop the skills that will be important. This means that preparations for this type of professional world will ultimately have to take place in the private, personal sphere. The aim is to acquire intercultural competence and experience, learn languages and be able to work on tasks that transcend national and ethnic groups.

These skills can already be learned at a few institutes, for example at the Hasso Plattner Institute or at virtual universities such as Kiron University.
To be of interest to brainpools, intercultural competence will probably be a top priority – in combination with at least two foreign languages. Of course, competence in dealing with the new media is a prerequisite. Expertise and specialization will fade into the background. The trend is towards broader qualifications. This means having the ability to grasp things quickly so that you can familiarize yourself quickly – not necessarily in depth – when necessary. It will be more important to have sufficient information available quickly in order to be able to perform swiftly.

In general, we can recommend that everyone work on their own soft skills: After all, creativity, flexibility, personal relationships and in-depth interaction are skills that machines or algorithms will not take over for the time being.

>>> Read here:
The future of work – Part 3/3: The labor market of the future

How can you prepare yourself if you have been working for a long time in a job that may no longer exist in ten years’ time?

Be awake and alert. Attach importance to gradual changes and don’t gloss over reality. Compare your working life five years ago with today and consider which of the changes are symptomatic of a presumed future. And then act! Be prepared to make courageous decisions. Don’t give in to any illusions that everything is not so bad after all, but expand your skills, your range and your network as quickly as possible in order to be more flexible for future developments. And if you’re riding a dead horse, get off instead of looking for dead horse feed.

Caught in the net:

Interesting article on the topic in the Süddeutsche Zeitung
Study “The Future of Jobs”
IAB study “Consequences of digitalization for the world of work”
A VDI statement “Digitization does not destroy jobs!

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The authors

Kassandra Knebel
Susanne Grätsch
Berliner Team