The World in 2020

I’m writing something for the Class of 2020 and it occurs to me that many of the jobs that we take for granted now will be extinct or endangered by the time students graduate in eleven years time. Furthermore, many of the jobs that our parents and grandparents viewed as ‘future proof’ have proved to be nothing of the sort (“nothing interesting ever happens in banking and accountancy – but they are safe professions”).

Here’s a short list of a few dead end jobs and obsolete occupations that are probably best avoided. Having said this it’s interesting to note that a few very old skills and professions are starting to make a comeback (those marked* ).

I will post some commentary on why it is that certain jobs are dead or dying soon, along with some words on new jobs and skills that may exist by the year 2020.

In terms of an overall context for the year 2020, I’ll also shortly post something on how the environment external to that of education (e.g. society, technology, the economy, environment, politics, business etc) will change. If anyone has any comments on any of this please post them below and I will do my best to incorporate into any revised versions.

List of dead, dying or doomed jobs:

– Shorthand secretary
– Switchboard operator
– Receptionist
– Blacksmith*
– Bookbinder
– Printer
– Typist
– Supermarket cashier
– Photo processor
– Toll both operator
– Video store owner
– Call centre opetator
– Telemarketer
– Admin support
– Data entry clerk
– Production supervisor
– Record store manager
– Fighter pilot
– Travel agent*
– Craftsman*
– Newspaper delivery boy
– Newsvendor
– Freight handler
– Panel beater
– Butcher*
– Baker*
– Candlestick maker*
– Milkman
– Electrical appliance repairman
– Translator
– Unskilled agricultural worker
– Machinist
– Computer operator
– Elevator operator
– Sewing machine operator
– Errand boys
– Recruitment consultant
– Public intellectual
– Mail clerk/post boy
– Ticket inspectors
– Tool setter
– Order clerk
– Meter maid
– Stock broker
– Librarian*
– Supermarket shelf stacker
– Train driver
– Paralegal

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7 Responses to The World in 2020

  1. I’d suggest signwriter, billboard/bus stand poster putter upperas and shop price label changers. Once the e-ink technology in Kindles etc matures and goes colour, I can see all signs, billboards and price labels on supermarket shelves being replaced by e-ink panels with changes just made by one person at a head office by sending wireless data update to the sign/poster/label.

  2. The safest jobs for the next few decades will involve anything to do with any practical level of skill inside of the home. For example an electrician, plumber or decorator. People are not passing these skills on. Cooking might be the next skill to be lost – replaced by ready meals and frozen stuff.

    In terms of what shops will exist in 20 years’ time, it’s all about whether the Internet can deliver it or not. The Internet, or even a mobile app, is unlikely to do a haircut in the medium term future.

    As for 2011, why do estate agents still have viable businesses? What’s their trick with longevity? Is it the fact they were quick to embrace the web?

  3. Richard Watson says:

    I would suggest that the reason estate agents still exist is that buying a house involves a very large amount of money (same reason physical banks still exist). Also, perhaps, it has something to do with trust or confidentiality. Speaking as someone who is currently buying a house there is also the issue of describing precisely what you are looking for visually to a search engine!

  4. Scott Martin says:

    Public intellectuals? I presume you are planning to retire in 2020!

    You forgot telephone sanitizers.

    Are you proposing to load them on to the B Ark?

  5. Richard Watson says:

    I’m public but I’m no intellectual! Good one on the phone sanitizers, but I think that line of work fell silent a while ago 😉 BTW, changed my mind on paralegals (I think).

  6. Hans van Poelvoorde says:

    I would add taxi drivers to the list

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