10 Years from Now, Will You be Working in a Profession That Does Not Exist?
Imagine explaining to someone 25 years ago what the professions of social media manager, uber driver, or drone operator are all about in 2020. Technology combined with population demands, resource scarcity, urbanization and other factors have created a number of new jobs and radically changed others. Research claims that 65% of children entering elementary school today will end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist.
A 2016 World Economic Forum report found that in many industries and countries, the most sought-after occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even 5 years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate. In the old days, when you entered college, you were trained in a functional area for a functional job, where you would spend most of your career. The paradigm shift of the digital age is far from functional knowledge about the ability to be fluid in your skill set and in your knowledge. When we talk about Architecture, Engineering and Design – what will become of these professions?
Where Are We Going?
Architecture is one of the world’s oldest professions. Although the formal degree of architect did not appear until the end of the 19th century in England, by the time our ancestors piled the first stones to build a shelter in the Neolithic period, this was already an active form of construction. If we are to speak more formally, the architectural profession is very recent, less than 200 years old, and became popular when the first offices started emerging and groups of people who did not belong to the bourgeoisie were able to hire architectural and design services.
Informally, architects have always existed building palaces, temples and churches. These people were not always architects, but artists, engineers or artisans. At the beginning of the 20th century, discussions about the formation of cities, major engineering works, the opening of a university such as the Bauhaus (all driven by the Industrial Revolution) brought the architectural profession to another level. Since then, the world has changed a lot. The Digital Revolution and the Fourth Industrial Revolution have given new meaning to the professions of architect, engineer and designer (which emerged less than 100 years ago) in society with new paradigms to be thought about.
Should we stick to the classical training of the architect who builds houses with bricks, matches the wall color to the cladding and scales the size of windows? Will the engineer always be the one who calculates concrete and iron beams? And will the designer always be the one who creates graphic images or cool chairs? Aren’t there other urgent and extremely important niches that go beyond the classical academic training and that need to be taken up?
Skills, Not Degrees
The future of work will not be about degrees. More and more, it will be about skills. And no school, whether Harvard or Oxford, can insulate us from the unpredictability of technological progression and disruption. Although our parents probably held a job all their lives, most of us have had not only multiple jobs but multiple careers as well. However, if we shift our focus from degrees to skills, we will enable a larger workforce that represents the diversity of our populations, closing employment gaps. This will mean transitioning to an always-on, skills-based infrastructure education that includes not just credentials and certification, but also the ability for work and employment as a result.
We need to understand that spatial skills of engineers, architects and designers can be used in more abstract ways to develop systems of tomorrow, working with other types of technicians and skills. We need to learn to recognize our abilities and place them in the world through the junction of different universes. And wouldn’t these universes be new market niches that are emerging with the various changes that the world has been going through in the last 30 years? Having multiple skills will be essential to the future of work. In fact, we all have multiple skills, no one is good at just one thing, but in the traditional system of education and work we were taught to focus on a single target. We will need to be polymaths, that is, to move between different areas of knowledge, not being limited to a single subject.
Niches of the Future
When I started Tabulla a year ago, I immersed myself intensely in articles, research and books about the future of architecture, engineering and design, new models of creation, profession, new modalities and niches of work and the influences of technology on university careers. Almost a year of many posts later, towards the end of last year, I started to notice a pattern: some niches seemed to be standing out and gaining traction, transforming the traditional way of what we were taught in college.
I started to gather all the articles and research and identified 20 niches that were repeated in innovative business cases, in research in the best universities in the world and in articles in the largest technology and creativity magazines. These 20 niches gave rise to Nichos do Futuro (Niches of the Future), my new ebook, which explores why creative work will change, why these areas have everything to succeed and why maybe you are an architect or designer who does not work directly on design: simply because the future is not just that. The future is vast, broad, giant and full of opportunities and professions. These are the 20 areas that I cover in Nichos do Futuro:
- Justice Designer
- Virtual Retail Designer
- Food Architect
- Fiction Architect
- Self-Building and Social Architecture Manager
- Experience Designer
- Nature Designer
- Health Designer and Healing Architect
- NeuroArchitect or Action Designer
- Designer for Seniors or Multigenerational Architects
- Communicator of Spaces
- Design for Children
- Water Architect
- Drone Space Adapter
- Educators of Creation
- Past Searcher
- Precast Specialist
- Urban Tech Designers
- Smart Homes Manager
- Tech Artists