Jobs in 2025 – emerging, growing and going

Will technological advances really put human workers out of a job in the near future?

Johannesburg, 15 Oct 2019
Read time 4min 20sec

Debra Bordignon, CTO of Dimension Data Australia, says it only takes moments for a new story to appear about the latest technological breakthrough and some of us foresee great opportunities from new types of jobs and are excited about knowledge from the 'beyond’ and ‘other’ horizons of technology innovation.

But for most people, the view of the future is laced with negativity, with talk turning to the impending Armageddon for human workers. "Will our place in the jobs market be overtaken by advanced artificial intelligence (AI) like bricklaying robots, AI-enabled company directors, driverless transport, and even cookie-baking bots?"

According to Bordignon, disruption is not just about technology; there are other powerful global forces at play. These include geopolitical instability, the global outsourcing of jobs, the globalisation of professional skills, the ageing of society, and the displacement of 20th-century analogue businesses by born-digital enterprises — all of which generate a degree of understandable anxiety.

Unfortunately, how we respond is critical to how the future plays out. Bordignon paints a future landscape framed in three perspectives — a background, midground and foreground.

  • The background perspective

According to Bordignon, the past tells us how change plays out. Throughout history, progress has evoked dystopian fears of a loss of livelihood. Yet each new wave of innovation — from hunting to agriculture, from the industrial to the information age — has created growth, prosperity and jobs. "We are entering the age of intelligent technologies where a digital environment connects people, data and things. Some call this the fourth industrial revolution. I call it the digital social era. In Japan, the term the 'super-smart society' has also been used, reflecting their intent to harness new technologies to create a better society for all."

She adds the scale and speed of this transition make it unique, with the global population estimated to reach around 8.1 billion people by 2025, with 55% of these people being of working age (United Nations, World Populations Prospects Reports: 2015 Revision). This suggests that 2 billion people could be facing unemployment and/or re-skilling in the coming decade, raising concerns over global jobs wars.

"In post-industrial economies, education and human services programmes will be heavily impacted. We could see a generation, or more, of displaced workers, leading to increased pressure on social support systems."

  • The midground perspective

What will workers be doing in 2025? Which jobs will be unstable, growing, and which new jobs will emerge? But how will the digital age change the lives of workers in 2025?

Bordignon’s example is of Grace, a graduate in international studies, majoring in democracy design, and Katie, an engineer and digital platforms designer, who works for an international aid programme. They’re guiding these emerging states in resilient systems of government and sustainable development, leveraging digital platforms to perpetuate good policy, governance, trade and investment, citizen engagement and service delivery. (United Nations World Population Prospects 2015 Revision).

Down on the farm:  a driverless tractor uses GPS and sensors to guide it as it ploughs and harvests the farm. Meanwhile, James, the farmworker, sets about mixing and distributing compost specific to the digitally monitored soil and moisture conditions. He collects DNA samples from new lambs and checks over an injured steer using a robotic handling machine and CAT scanner.

Teaching and learning: Nick, an e-lance university lecturer and renowned researcher into genetic healing, beams himself into his globally transmitted 3D-telepresence tutorial. His expertise is franchised to 12 top universities around the world. One of the students attending his lecture is Tran, a PhD student who studies at Western Sydney University but lives in Vietnam. Millie, an online success coach, notices through analytics that her student Jane is showing indications of dropping out of her online studies. Millie intervenes to introduce her virtually to other online students who are succeeding, building a supportive study group network.

Emily, a primary school teacher, uploads the day’s classroom activity plan to her classroom help-bot, Robert. Robert generates a plan specific to each child and a graphic showing which children should be seated together to maximise everyone’s learning experience.

Values and simplicity

By 2025, the silver lining from the displacement of large numbers of workers will be seen in a return to community-connectedness. And this will create shared resources across a growing peer-to-peer caring and helping economy.

  • The foreground perspective

Finally, to complete this future landscape, the foreground is the fabric of working life in 2025. It shows what attributes, worker skill sets, and aptitudes will be needed as well as the required organisational factors for mastery and leadership of an enterprise in the exponential digital social world.

Bordignon’s outline is one of a super-smart society, with automation and intelligent machines being deployed to deliver a better society for all.

Click here to download the infographic.