Future of work: career planners should contemplate computers and care

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The age of generative AI is predicted to be one of widespread job losses. Paranoia is highest among skilled professionals. Hollywood script writers are striking for AI protection. Half of US CEOs questioned say AI could replace most or all of the job they do, according to a survey by edX, the education platform created by MIT and Harvard.

But history shows that new technologies tend to create jobs. Unemployment tracks the economic cycle, not the introduction of technological breakthroughs, according to work by Deutsche Bank that goes as far back as the 1750s. More companies surveyed by the World Economic Forum expect artificial intelligence to drive jobs up in their sector than create job losses. AI and machine learning specialists and cyber security experts are obvious areas of growth.

It is easy to underestimate humanity’s ability to find new ways of keeping itself busy. The IT revolution is in its third decade yet unemployment remains near historic lows.

But technology does change the types of jobs done. AI could supercharge that. McKinsey expects a faster than average pace of job changes this decade. It forecasts an additional 12mn occupational shifts by 2030.

Where will the jobs of the future be? Tech and healthcare are two clear winners.

Data for England and Wales shows the largest number of jobs created in the six years to 2021 were in healthcare. An ageing population meant jobs in hospitals, nursing homes and other health occupations were in the 10 fastest-growing subsectors. This demographic trend is forecast to continue. In the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects healthcare and social assistance to account for about 45 per cent of all projected job gains by 2032.

Rising demand for entertainment means pub, restaurant and café jobs are also up, leading to a crisis in recruitment.

Changing shopping habits and the continued shift to online sales mean a drop in retail jobs but growth in warehousing and road transportation. These are in the top 10 fastest-growing job sectors in England and Wales.

AI is not the only technology expected to create employment over the next decade. Net gains in big data analytics, environmental technology and biotech breakthroughs are also being forecast by the WEF. Prospective job hunters should consider narrowing their focus to computing, care and clean energy.

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