Experts have been trying to predict the jobs of the future since the invention of work for money. Sometimes, they get it right.
On September 5, 1988, a syndicated article appeared in The Press & Sun-Bulletin in which a number of experts weighed in about what they thought the jobs of tomorrow might look like. The blog PaleoFuture unearthed the 30-year-old article … and its surprisingly accurate vision of the 21st century.
Many of their predicted future jobs exist today. Let’s look at some of the predictions from the article and see how they panned out.
[Norman Feingold, a clinical psychologist and career counselor] envisions a range of exotic careers: Ocean hotel manager, wellness consultant, sports law specialist, lunar astronomer, and even robot trainer.
Although we don’t have robot trainers called by that name, there are technical trainers (who help train humans to use IT systems). Plus, artificial intelligence is shaking up the job market in all kinds of ways. Tech jobs for workers such as software engineers and data analysts have grown globally over the course of the last five years. These professionals do something like “robot training” as envisioned in the late ’80s.
We might not have ocean hotel managers (the cities on the sea haven’t come about quite as quickly as was predicted) or lunar astronomers. However, the job market in 2018 is probably even more tech-driven than many experts from 30 years ago might have guessed.
Improved gender equality
Marvin Cetron, a technological forecaster, looks at the year 2000 and predicts a 32-hour work week. “The only job a woman won’t be holding is Catholic priest,” he said.
In fact, women have made tremendous inroads into all kinds of industries and jobs where they hadn’t previously had much of a presence.
Unfortunately, many of the problems related to gender equity in the workplace still persist. The gender pay gap is still an issue in 2018. Also, women are still vastly underrepresented in some fields. Women now make up half of the college educated workforce but only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce, for example.
[Alan Porter, an engineering professor at Georgia Tech] predicts such innovations as “the Autoburger,” a fast-food dispensary something like McDonald’s, but without human workers.
Porter got two major things right here. First, automation has changed the way we live and work. And, second, restaurants have changed.
The biggest shift to the food service industry might have really shocked folks back in 1988: people are eating out way more than they used to. The industry is skyrocketing as a result. In 2000, sales of food and drink within the restaurant industry amounted to about $379 billion. In 2017, it was $798.7 billion.
Economists now predict that there will be more food service jobs than manufacturing ones by 2020. This is due to changes in automation and manufacturing. It also reflects the way Americans now spend their food budget. In the 1950s restaurants accounted for about 25 percent of these budgets. Today, it’s closer to 50 percent.
We might not have “the Autoburger” just yet – but more and more aspects of the restaurant industry have been automated in recent years. These shifts will continue to take root in the years to come, in the food service field and in others. That will usher in more changes to the job market and more adjustments from job seekers.
Tell Us What You Think
What do you predict the job market will look like 30 years from now? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.