Space tourist guides and lab meat scientists: These are the jobs of the future

WEF data showed that nearly two-thirds of children now starting school will work in jobs that have not even been invented yet.
Klaus Vedfelt | DigitalVision | Getty Images

More than 100 million workers in 8 countries alone might need to switch jobs by 2030, according to a recent McKinsey report, which highlighted a number of jobs that could exist even further into the future. 

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated technological transformation, so much so that 12% more people than anticipated pre-crisis might need to change jobs by the end of the decade. That's according to data from a report published in February by consultancy McKinsey on the future of work post-pandemic. 

The data was cited in Bank of America's "Future of Work" report, published Wednesday, which looked even further ahead, considering the creation of new roles. It referred to World Economic Forum findings which showed that nearly two-thirds of children now starting school will work in jobs that have not even been invented yet. 

The Bank of America strategists who authored the report pointed out that many next-generation technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, augmented and virtual reality, are still in their infancy. 

However, they argued it would be key to anticipate the jobs needed to work in these areas of innovation so people can "adapt their skillset with the relevant education for the workplace of tomorrow." 

Bank of America equity strategist Felix Tran, who was the lead author on the report, highlighted the following examples of possible jobs of the future, based on the insights in this report and previous thematic research carried out by the investment bank. 

10 jobs of the future 

  • Space tourist guide — Tran explained that the commercialization of space was accelerating and that more private citizens would likely want to fly into space, which needs tour guides for safety. Indeed, Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin announced last week it would be auctioning off a seat to the public on its tourism rocket New Shephard for launch on July 20.
  • Leisure time planner — WEF data referenced in the report showed that humans and machines could be spending an equal amount of time on work tasks by 2025, as automation increases. This frees humans up from time spent on the more "mundane, repetitive everyday tasks," said Tran, meaning more recreational time in the future that could be organized by someone else.
  • 3D lab meat scientist — With the emergence of cultured meat, Tran explained that food engineers would be needed to grow and monitor the meat in petri dishes. Eat Just's lab-grown chicken was the world's first to be approved for sale in Singapore in December.
  • Virtual reality influencer — Augmented and virtual reality are reaching an "inflection point," said Tran, who argued that this role would be a "natural extension of the social media influencer phenomenon happening today." The role of social media influencer exploded over the past decade, with big stars like Kylie Jenner making more than $1 million per Instagram post.
  • Nanomedicine surgeons — Tran explained that medicine in the future could be "so small on a nano-scale that patients could be 'swallowing the doctor' to enable mini robots to cure them."
  • Genetic computational AI biologists — Technologies like CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) that allow the altering of DNA sequences, are disrupting the health-care industry, Tran said. For instance, scientists claimed in November that they had been able to use CRISPR to identify genes that could protect against Covid-19.
  • Agriculture rewilding strategists — Strategically using farmland and forestry to capture carbon is one way to minimize emissions, so there will need to be workers in the future who can plan how to repurpose land, Tran said.
  • Climate geoengineers — Future scientists may be tasked with finding a way to rapidly cool the planet using stratospheric chemicals, Tran said. For example, volcanic eruptions emit gases and particles like sulphur dioxide which has a cooling effect on the Earth. So spraying sulphate like a "man-made" eruption could also cause cooling, according to research cited in a previous BofA note.
  • Non-bias ethical algorithm programmer — "Big tech is not as diverse and inclusive as you think and robots don't have morality like humans," said Tran, meaning workers will be needed to develop an AI code of ethics. BofA said in a previous piece of thematic research that the "diversity and inclusion technology" market was growing rapidly, citing WEF data that it had an overall estimated market size of around $100 million in 2019.
  • Data privacy managers — Personal data is increasingly at risk from a cyberattack, said Tran, so there will need to be workers specialized in preventing these issues.

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