Tomorrow's jobs are much like today's – except for one thing...

The predicted occupations of 2022 are reassuringly familiar, but how we work will change

Share

Where are the jobs of tomorrow? One of the disturbing features of the recovery is the uneven nature of job creation. The economy is thumping out huge numbers of new jobs – a million a year – but the jobs are a higgledy-piggledy collection. Many are part-time, many are self-employed, many are low-pay, a few very high-pay – and many are done by people beyond normal retirement age. There are stories of skill shortages, particularly in engineering, yet 20 per cent of graduates are reportedly doing "menial" jobs. On top of this are huge regional differences, though the North-South divergence is more complicated than is often supposed.

Underlying everything is a deeper concern about the impact on inequality: will there be a further hollowing out of the centre, with lots of jobs at the bottom and quite a few at the top, but not so many in between?

Of course, we cannot know, any more than anyone 20 years ago could have predicted the surge of the online world and the jobs it has created. But I have been looking at a thoughtful and quite encouraging study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) on job creation in Britain through to 2022. The big message is that though just over one-third of the new jobs will be high-skilled and a lot of jobs will be low-skilled, there will be another 3.6 million medium-skilled jobs too.

The IPPR makes the basic point that you have to look not just at the jobs that will be created but at the jobs that will be vacated – by people retiring or leaving the workforce. We are in the period of peak retirement for the post-war baby-boomers, and while many may keep working for a few more years, this merely postpones the impact on the job market.

The top 10 occupations of the future are:

1 Caring and personal service (jobs such as dental nurses);

2 Social care associate professionals (social workers, probation officers);

3 Health professionals (pharmacists as well as doctors);

4 Media (including, surprisingly to some of us, journalists);

5 Company managers (senior executives as well as middle managers);

6 Cultural and sporting professionals (actors, dancers, photographers);

7 Leisure occupations (sports coaches, hairdressers);

8 Property-related services (estate managers, developers);

9 Customer services (tele-sales, retailers);

10 Business services (insurance, accounting).

These might seem a mundane bunch – an extrapolation of present trends rather than a brave new world – but that is fine. Job patterns shift incrementally and if we are looking eight years ahead it is reasonable to take what is happening now, adjust for retirement, and project it forward. We have been remarkably flexible in our use of labour and willingness to accept structural economic change. Because we have not artificially preserved employment, we should not expect huge swathes of jobs to disappear, as they did in manufacturing in the 1980s.

There are however implications for training, particularly for vocational training. We need more of it, and we need to celebrate its values. I suppose devices such as last week's VQ Day do help a bit to promote vocational qualifications, but the big driver is the likelihood that that's how you get the better job.

There are, I suggest, three other points. The first is that we are an open job market, open that is to other people in the European Union. There has been huge attention to this for obvious reasons; there has been much less attention to the fact that English-language skills and qualifications open up job markets elsewhere. A lot of British professionals will continue to see the Middle East and East Asia as opportunities. Our job market is more fluid than it has ever been.

The second is the need for people to build core skills early. I don't think we explain to young people that you close off options if you don't make the right decisions in your teens and twenties. You can patch later, but it is tough. The idea that people will have portfolio careers is more valid than ever, but you only have access to those portfolio careers if you have the core skills to start with.

The third factor is the importance of soft skills. If you check through those future occupations, nearly all of them involve a lot of human interaction. Handling relations with other people is a key, arguably the key, soft skill.

And one final twist: we are still thinking in terms of jobs. But already 15 per cent of the UK labour-force is self-employed, double the level of a generation ago. By 2022 that could be 20 per cent, maybe more. How we adapt to that is as big a challenge as training for the jobs of tomorrow.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Police officers attempt to stop illegal migrants from jumping onto trucks headed for Britain in the northeastern French port of Calais on October 29, 2014  

Tighter security in Calais won’t solve the problem

Nigel Morris
 

Football needs its Martin Luther moment, and soon

Boyd Tonkin
US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines