Future Workplace: What Will Your Job Be Like in 20 Years?

With all the prognostications about the future of work perhaps the one that disturbs people the most is the one that says by the year 2030 2 billion jobs will not exist anymore. To think that almost 50% of the current jobs on earth will be gone can be pretty disturbing. So how do you make sure you are still employed if you are currently under the age of 60?


Being aware of what is happening in your industry is critically important. You must know about the jobs that are disappearing or have the potential to disappear and then move away from those jobs. If you are in a job that is on the endangered list then you need to reevaluate your career path. If you are a bookkeeper, or tax preparer or telemarketer the likelihood that you will lose your job to automation is extremely high. You can go here to look at the possibility of your job being around in 15 years. (Warning, you will spend some time here playing.)


Companies prepare for the future by retooling the companies. People can also “retool” by getting reeducated. Andrew Heikkila, whose article Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet: How to Prepare for the Future of Work provided the inspiration for this post, says that we have faced such dilemmas in the past. The way out of these past dilemmas was education or in my lingo, “retooling your mind.” Heikkila says “Continued education and educational reform are going to be integral to the future of work…”

An important part of the retooling we need to do is to be aware of the “human” components of jobs. Automation doesn’t do empathy, or caring, emotion very well. It does manual labor and it does it fast. I quoted Andrew MacAfee in my post Future Friday: Being Human in a Machine Age, who said “It appears that when the task is so wide open that searching through history or enumerating all the possibilities won’t work, our abilities are superior.” That is why jobs like law clerks will be endangered but lawyers will be safer.

Non-Programmable Skills

Richard Samson, futurist and director of the EraNova Institute, says that people who work in jobs that require “non-programmable” skills will be the ones that are continually employed. The skills he feels are necessary are:

Conscious monitoring and control: Mostly to intercede to prevent mishaps

Hypothesizing: Looking for an explanation to a problem, for a state of affairs or for a condition of nature.

Creativity and imagination: AI doesn’t yet do “fantasizing.”

Subjective Decision Making: I am reminded of the movie I Robot, where the reason Detective Spooner hates robots is that he was saved by one because he was the “logical” choice to save as opposed to the 12 year old girl.

Social skills: To Samson this includes leadership, responding to leadership, motivating others, listening, speaking, reading body language, organizing, conveying a vision and inspiring enthusiasm. I think some of things can potentially be automated but they still require human interaction.

Responsibility: This is the “crowning realization of integrated, well-functioning self-consciousness.” It incorporates ethics.

Do you have a job that incorporates these skills? If you don’t you need to be looking and learning if you want to be employed in the future.

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.


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