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Wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to peer into the future, say thirty or fifty years from now, and see what jobs will be hot?

Dwindling Jobs

I suspect that if we could do this, we might get more than a few shocks. Some of the really big jobs today will have been forced into oblivion by an onslaught of automated systems. Who’ll need a bank cashier when the robots are attending to us? An advanced form of the blockchain technology (or a more adequate successor), plus bots powered by Artificial Intelligence, will probably eliminate the brick-and-mortar bank as we know it. The oil industry, with its relatively large paychecks, will be on the wane. The global shift towards renewable energy would have forced oil prices further down; revenues would be significantly lower than what they are today. As a result, that industry’s pay and perks will be less generous, and the flood of job applicants who pound its doors will slow into a trickle. What will the jobs of the future be then? What businesses will take the place of today’s giants and lure the brightest talent to their offices and board rooms? Here are a few clues: improved technology, population growth, and a sustainable environment. Tomorrow’s businesses will revolve around these realities. Please note: this article isn’t about the next few hundred years, so you won’t get the wild, fantastical predictions about cyborg design, intergalactic tourism or memory engineering. Good luck to our great grand children and their four-hour work day, with all the boredom that their increasingly passive routines will eventually bring them. So these will be the most sought after jobs in the coming years and decades, if current trends are anything to go by.

1. Software Systems Development

There’s already a growing demand for people who can create and manage software. But that demand is going to explode in the next few years. As the world’s business processes, leisure and other everyday activities become more dependent on software enabled electronic devices and applications, the need for more software (with greater sophistication) will continue to grow. Much of tomorrow’s infrastructure will rely on the work done by software engineers. They will be priced for their expertise, and will earn a good deal for it.

2. Alternative Energy Distribution

At the moment, fossil fuels powers much of the global economy. That’s why oil is still the world’s “black gold.” But this isn’t going to be the case for much longer. In time, we won’t need PMS or diesel to power our cars, buses and trains; they’ll run on electricity. Our factories won’t need dirty fuels to function either; there will be renewable alternatives to use, and they’ll be less expensive. Natural gas will be replaced by solar, wind and biochemical energy. Whatever takes the place of oil will spawn a lucrative industry. Companies dealing in alternative energy will profit from the receding influence of petroleum.

3. Engineering

Engineers, whether they be electronic, electrical or civil, will be at the forefront of normalizing new technologies. New gadgets will be built, an will need maintaining. Plans for smart homes hooked up to the electrical and data grids of smart cities will be drawn up and executed by engineers. We’ll need far more engineers than we have right now to manage what will be vastly different home, community and city power systems.

4. Web content design and management

It’s not very easy to tell what the internet will look like in a couple of decades from now. But one thing is certain: it will not be the same. Perhaps we’ll have a web system that is more integrated with reality; perhaps it’ll be more decentralized. Whatever form it takes, there will be a demand for minds that are great at designing web content that captures people’s attention and, more importantly, helps them solve their problems. Web copy and video content creation and editing will be important skills. Although Artificial Intelligence could help with creating online news posts for instance (they already are), they will still lack the creative touch that spins content that appeals to the aesthetic sense of us humans. Maybe they’ll eventually get there. But it’s still a prospect for the comfortably distant future.

5. Real estate

One thing will make this a real money spinner in tomorrow’s Nigeria: population growth. In 2016, Nigeria had just over 190 million people living within its borders. By 2030, that number would have swollen to over 252 million. Current projections by the United Nations also indicate that by 2050, more than 400 million people will reside in the country. About two-thirds of that population will live in the cities. Imagine what land and rent costs would be doing at that time. If you had property on the outskirts of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt or Kano, you’d be sitting on hundreds of millions (maybe even billions) of naira.

6. Healthcare services

A growing population will require the care of more trained medical practitioners. Simple as that. But the needs they’ll be attending to will be different in a number of respects. Non-communicable diseases (cancer, obesity and heart conditions) will be more common. Mental health will become more important, as excessive involvement with technology and reclusive lifestyles trigger depression and other mental illnesses on a wider scale. Added to these concerns will be the struggle to care for the growing number of older persons, as life expectancy increases and birth rates begin to decline. This should lead to the expansion of a whole healthcare subsector dedicated specifically to helping the aged through the later years of their lives. Conclusion It could be that all our jobs will end up being done by robots. But that’s still a long way off, even by the most optimistic estimates. We’ll have to stay at our grind and look out for which way the winds of demand blow. It’s the surest bet for staying relevant in a rapidly changing world.  

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This article was first published on 3rd April 2018


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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