Back to the future

It’s back to school time! College bound students and their parents are having a lot of mixed feelings. There’s the excitement and anxiety of starting something new, maybe far from home. And for the parents, the goodbyes and the reality of being an empty nester may just be sinking in. Parents sense that they’ve done their job and now, it’s launch time.

There are questions college students hate to hear – “what are you planning to study?”; “what do you want to do when you graduate?”  They need to find their passion first. And who knows what kind of jobs will be there come graduation time.

Many of today’s jobs didn’t even exist 5 or 10 years ago. If you are on social media at all, you will see tons of job opportunities for just that – social media experts. But it’s just over a decade for two of the giants – Facebook and LinkedIn, and less than 10 years for Twitter.

And at the intersection of cars and technology, do you suppose the people working at Mcity thought 10 years ago that this is what they’d be doing? Mcity is a controlled test environment that may lead to mass-market driverless cars – it’s right here in Ann Arbor not far from where I live and work.  It was designed and developed by U-M’s interdisciplinary Mobility Transformation Center, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

I like to read predictions of futurists. They certainly open my mind and inspire me to think big.

Futurist Thomas Frey wrote an article in 2014 titled “162 Future Jobs: Preparing for Jobs that Don’t Yet Exist.” Some of our college bound students need to be thinking about “jobs that don’t yet exist” as they head off.

Here are some of Frey’s suggestions for categories of jobs to think about for the future:

  • Personal Rapid Transit Systems
  • Commercial Drone Industry
  • Crypto Currencies & Alternative Financial Systems
  • Our Trillion-Sensor Future
  • And yes, Internet of Things, Big Data, and 3D Printing are on the list

And he predicts and describes some of the new skills that will be needed:

  • Expansionists – A talent for adapting along with a growing environment.
  • Maximizers – An ability to maximize processes, situations, and opportunities.
  • Optimizers – The skill and persistence to tweak variables until it produces better results.
  • Dismantlers – Every industry will eventually end, and this requires talented people who know how to scale things back in an orderly fashion.

Remember, you own your own career. I remind our staff that we work in two constantly changing fields: health care and technology. The days of working your entire career in one position are a thing of the past. It’s also good advice for the millennials in school now. It’s not about deciding at 18 or 22 what kind of work you want to do the rest of your lives. It’s about starting down a path of discovery.



162 Future Jobs: Preparing for Jobs that Don’t Yet Exist

4 thoughts on “Back to the future

  1. Rodney Nelson on said:

    Thanks Sue for posting this information. The listed skills and information from the article from Thomas Frey show that critical thinking will become more important in years to come. The new skills such as expansionist, maximizers, and the others all point to “thinking” as a key component.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Rodney, Good to see you today! Glad you liked this…..critical thinking is always important and as you say, even more so in the future. May give you some ideas to share with your students if you’re still teaching a course these days.

  2. Bernie Han on said:

    Sue: Appreciate your energy dedicated to your blog, which will be my additional teaching resources in an Intro Course to HIT (required for future HIT workforce) .

    I may want to require my students to read for their research project. I am glad to read your blog in this Labor Day long weekend – just my last minute work for the new semester!! Thanks.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Bernie, thanks for the feedback. Great to see you encouraging your HIT students to read – think they could benefit a lot from the topics covered.

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