Image: World Economic Forum/Benedikt von Loebell Image: World Economic Forum/Benedikt von Loebell

Culturing limbs, designing the weather and counselling robots tend not to feature as part of most people’s average nine to five. But new research has unearthed a bizarre line-up of brand new roles set to take over the workplace.

Futurist experts, in conjunction with BrightHR, have unveiled ‘100 jobs of the future,’ suggesting ‘space architects’ and ‘robot councillors’ may not be as far away from reality as we might think.

Our ‘A Future That Works’ report - compiled by professor of management practice at London Business School, Lynda Gratton, and futurologist David A.Smith - delved into sectors including communications, robotics, space, environment and medicine to analyse not only how technology is shaping the way we work, but the types of work that will be critical for the future.

From the findings, ten of the most extraordinary future job roles were:

  • Human to Machine Interface Programmer
  • Drowned City Specialist
  • Virtual Lawyer
  • Avatar Manager
  • Mind Reading Specialist
  • Robot Counsellor
  • Space Architect
  • Weather Modification Police Officer
  • Body Part Maker
  • End-of-Life Planner
In the world of communications, Virtual Clutter Organisers, In-House Simplicity Experts and Machine Linguists appeared amongst the line-up, while in biology and medicine, doctors and scientists were upgraded to Old-Age Wellness Managers, Synthetic Life Designers and Obesity Consultants.

Vertical Farmers, Insect-based Food Developers and Drowned City Specialists featured in the Energy and Environment sector, while in robotics and space, we can expect the workforce of the future to consist of Robot Trainers, Solar Flight Specialists and Spaceport Designers.

While it’s long been the case that machines have taken over repetitive and laborious tasks, one of the more surprising consequences of the impact of advancing technology has been the disappearance of middle-skilled roles.

David A.Smith, futurologist and chief executive of strategic futures and research organisation, Global Futures and Foresight, said in many sectors machines will produce better solutions to problems than the average human.

He said: “As a result of advances in machine learning, the task of interrogating large amounts of data is likely to become fully-automated, making jobs with any systematic component vulnerable.

“In fields such as law, accountancy and medicine, machines are likely to produce generally better answers than humans.

“While job substitution by machines is alarming for those caught up in it, we know, from experience, that we have always been able to adapt and find new roles for ourselves.”

Professor Linda Gratton of London Business School and The Hot Spots Movement believes this trend is likely to become even more pronounced over time and that employees need to think more creatively about how they achieve career progression.

She said: “Studies have suggested that a third of jobs in Europe will be replaced by technology over the next two decades.

“As middle-skilled roles disappear, workers may find that the ‘rung’ above them no longer exists, and that the career ladder may begin to look more like a career web.

“The ultimate implication is that workers cannot now expect to gain seniority by moving ‘up’, but rather moving sideways by gaining additional complex skills.”

With the upward movement of the career ladder so embedded in the psychology of many organisations, this will be a major shift. And it’s not only employees who will be affected.

Professor Gratton added: “Employers and recruiters too will change the way they find talent, looking to seek the right attributes rather than experience, and empower their workers to become more agile through on-the-job training.”

While it seems the job for life may be dead, the broken career ladder also leads to new opportunities, as ‘100 jobs of the future’ alludes.

I believe that companies will eventually see a breakdown in the traditional structure of people climbing the career ladder, with more businesses adopting a ‘career web’ ethos.

It’s our very humanness that will make us valuable employees and contractors in the future. Developing new skills and offering more diverse services can help some ‘under threat’ areas such as accountancy to future proof their industry.

By Paul Tooth, CEO and co-founder of BrightHR