No doubt about it, America’s workforce is changing fast and the skills that many workers had 50, 20, or maybe even 10 years ago just don’t translate to today’s automated and highly technological workplace.
What will the future hold? What skills should younger people be focusing on?
AskReddit users talked about what they think the most-needed skills are for the next generation of workers in America.
1. Still the same.
“When I was in high school waaaay back in the late 70s my curmudgeonly history teacher tried to beat it into our heads that learning a foreign language and management skills would be needed in our future, as most US production jobs were disappearing and the best jobs would be in managing foreign workers, at home or abroad.
He was right, at least in this case. I see no change in that prediction.”
2. This is crucial.
Things move and change so fast nowadays and being able to keep up and adapt is a very crucial skill.”
3. Gotta keep up.
“The skill of learning new skills is super important. At least it’s something machine learning isn’t too good at (yet).”
4. Good point.
“Everyone is talking programing, I feel the most needed set of skills are going to be related to piping, laying datalines and fixing infrastructure.”
5. The trades are very important.
“Trade skills. There is already a massive shortage of competent people willing to do manual labor jobs like welding, painting, mechanics, construction, etc.
If you are even vaguely competent and willing to do manual labor, you can get a $20/hr job with benefits instantly nearly anywhere in the United States.
Source: my actual life, covered in work but have no workers.”
6. Change and improve.
“The ability to recognize that just because that’s “how we’ve always done it” doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be changed.
You should always be changing and improving.”
7. A key component to getting things done.
Work gets done so much faster when you communicate properly with others.”
8. Some good advice.
“I really hate saying this, because it makes me sound like some angry old man, but based on my experience as a 20-something:
Professional personality, but not annoyingly-so. Employers don’t like stuck-up workers who ONLY care about work, they want someone who will speak out against bullshit and keep rationality in mind, but they also want someone who remains professional throughout.
Physical strength. Tell me why LiftBot 3000 shouldn’t replace you, go.
Research skills. You have the internet at your fingertips, use it. Don’t just go to college and pretend to be an expert in everything, learn.”
9. This will never go out of style.
“Do all you can to build your interpersonal skills.
Being able to communicate well and having self confidence will help in almost every situation.”
10. From the mouth of Andrew Yang.
“According to Andrew Yang, skill sets will be redundant in a few decades.
He needs to be secretary of something related to industry treasury or economics; he is the only candidate I’ve seen who has a grasp on how AI and automation will effect society.”
11. Read and listen.
“As someone who works at an IT help desk, I can say it is the ability to read, and listen.
Almost every job (at least in the US) requires that you use a computer. The people who have the most trouble are the ones who don’t read the notifications or listen to the experts.”
12. They’ll always be needed.
“Engineering. They’re needed literally everywhere for everything and there aren’t enough of them.
Also doctors and nurses.”
13. This is long, but important.
“Automation engineering and supporting fields. Automation is going to happen, get ahead of the curve, or get rolled over it. That includes robotics engineering, programming of the systems used to automate, or maintenance of the systems set up.
Any of the Medical fields, with the caveat that the working conditions are really abysmal right now. I suspect there will be some pretty big changes to the medical field simply because the current situation is no longer viable, but what those changes are is pretty up in the air.
Any career option in the financial industry should remain perfectly viable. Same with real estate.
Any of the R&D fields should be… well… as viable as they always have been. Don’t expect to get rich doing it, but you’ll have good steady pay if you can find a company to work for instead of wildcatting.
Data management. This is only going to continue to explode, and for obvious reasons.
Tradeskill jobs. Electrician, plumber, HVAC… people will still have these utilities and will still need them to be maintained by professionals.
Careers to avoid:
Almost any minimum-wage job including but not limited to:
Running a register. They’re already getting replaced with ‘self serve’ kiosks, expect this trend to continue
Stocking shelves. As Amazon has already shown, this can be more heavily automated. Expect to see these jobs fully automated in the next decade or two
Any customer-facing minimum wage position not already covered by the previous two. About the only customer-facing jobs that will be left are either going to be straight commission based sales like car sales or high-end boutiques who use actual people in their stores as a selling point and whose products are profitable enough to afford the higher overhead.
Jobs in the Coal or Oil industry. These resources are rapidly becoming obsolete, and thus so will the jobs associated with them.
Manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing is going to become completely automated, there won’t be any lines to work on anymore going forward.
In short, there will be almost no need for unskilled labor anywhere in the US within a generation, as it will all be fully automated. However, people will still get sick, things will still break down and need to be repaired, home utilities will still need maintenance, therefore anything which supports human life support is going to still be needed. Being able to support the automation will be a good gig if you can get it, but keep in mind that there will be fewer positions available, so you’re going to have to hustle.
I expect the first employee-free McDonald’s to open within the decade, whose only staff is a janitor, an engineer to fix things, and a couple of managers. And even then, I’m betting if they can replace the janitor with some degree of automation, or just tell the manager to clean up after himself, they’ll probably do that instead.
Most fast food chains will follow suit. Wal-Mart won’t be far behind, deploying the same tech that Amazon uses to fully automate warehouses to automate stocking of shelves and such. It’ll take longer, due to the need for additional infrastructure, but within say twenty years, the first employee-free Wal-Mart will be deployed. Don’t depend on these types of jobs to get you through college, they won’t be available.”
14. Advice from a foreigner.
“I’m not from America but professional skills are the same all over the world. You didn’t say which skills (soft or technical). From my experience so far, what I think that will be some mandatory/must-haves are:
Technical jobs will never dissappear (programming or anything else related), they will just shift towards new trends.
Softskills, what we had since the begining of time, those will still be there. It depends on what you personally expect to achieve in your career. Self management skills are always a good addition to anyone.
A shift that I have seen for a couple of years, it seems the ability to work as independently as possible (in a team or solo) as in to not rely on anyone, because you will most likely have all the resources available.
Jobs that are present today in most companies that require data manipulation or calculus to be done manually, those will be the first to dissapear in the next 20-something years due to automation (RPA or whatnot). The market seems to shift in that direction so I would not reccomend anyone to pursue a career in this direction (it’s up to you).
Outsourcing is becoming a big thing, at least in Europe so I guess the same thing is happening or will happen in US as well. To be fair, it doesn’t make too much of a difference if you are being outsourced to a different company. Work is still work.”
15. Learn some languages.
“I’m in an MBA program and one of my professors said that being bilingual is the most attractive thing on an undergrad resume.”
This is definitely an interesting subject to think about and debate, that’s for sure.
What do you think?
What do younger Americans need to focus on to make their future as bright as possible?
Sound off in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!