When it comes to the world of work, students are often under pressure to gain the skills they need to flourish in the workplace. They may spend time learning the theory behind their chosen subject area or applying for work experience opportunities to develop the practical skills that they need. But what if the jobs they will eventually work in haven’t been invented yet?
It may sound like a crazy thought, but let’s think about it. The first iPhone was developed just fifteen years ago. Before that, there were very few jobs for app developers or web developers. Coding wasn’t a mainstream skill, and very few companies used data analytics to inform their business decisions. But thanks to huge advances in technology, we are now seeing new jobs emerge almost as quickly as the technology itself.
The advances in automation and artificial intelligence are creating new job roles and opportunities which are accessible to businesses across a range of sectors. If we look back at how many job roles have emerged over the past ten years, we can expect that just as many could develop in the next ten years. As an employer specialising in digital retail, we see first-hand how changing technologies are directly contributing towards new job roles. So, here’s our advice on how you can prepare yourself for a job that may not yet exist.
Be prepared for continual learning
To ensure that you remain an attractive prospect for recruiting managers, you should recognise that continual learning is the key to a successful career. After you graduate, you may have learnt the theory, but jobs are changing, and new skills will be needed. It’s how you take the initiative to developing these new skills that will make you stand out to employers.
We recommend that you take as many opportunities as possible to upskill yourself. It may be through regular training workshops or online courses (many of which are available free-of-charge online). But it’s also about the non-traditional routes to learning. For example, if you can learn from others, listen to senior staff members, or enrol in a formal mentoring programme, you may be surprised to discover how much you can learn and use that knowledge to aid your employability. Keep a notebook tracking what you are learning and note any training courses/webinars you attend. You can then use this information to continually update your CV.
Automation could be an asset
The newspapers are full of stories of how automation and AI could cause significant job losses. But we view AI and automation as a positive – they will create new jobs and opportunities, which will be perfect for students and graduates. These days, almost every business relies on having functioning technology to work. If we look back at the scramble to instil remote working in 2020, that was because too many firms hadn’t adopted cloud-based technologies and needed to update their systems to enable staff to work from home.
So, to anticipate what skills you may need in the future for jobs still to emerge, you should look to see how businesses are using technology and how consumers are behaving. From here, you can start to predict how things may change.
Let’s take the retail space as an example. We know that shoppers will continue to shop online, but younger generations are more likely to shop via social media platforms as well as retail websites. So, new jobs could emerge that align social commerce with traditional eCommerce, as well as physical commerce. Automation and algorithms will likely play a big role in this, and we’re already starting to see new roles emerge within the digital transformation field.
Look beyond your subject area to take inspiration
To maximise your employability, you need to have as many transferrable skills as possible. These skills can be used in various ways across a wide range of tasks and subjects. Employers want to work with individuals who are curious and willing to look beyond their initial subject area. Marketing is a great example of this. Previous marketing students will have focused their studies on areas such as communication or business economics. But these days, marketing students need to have insights into psychology and human behaviours. They need to know how to anticipate communicating with different groups and how to read and interpret the increasing amount of data that marketing technology can generate. They may even need to learn basic coding skills or graphic design skills.
As you study for your degree, we recommend you talk with students about other courses. You may be surprised to learn that different modules from other classes could become relevant in your own career. The crossover potential is unlimited, so the more you learn from others, the better.
Try to get as much experience as possible
Gone are the days when an employee would start in a junior role and take a linear path up a career ladder to reach a senior position. These days, employers are keen to see recruits who have worked multiple jobs across various sectors. Taking a seemingly ‘sideways’ career move can be advantageous because it can keep you open-minded and give you a broad perspective.
It can also help you branch out into new areas related to your initial field of interest. For example, a PR professional could move into similar roles such as SEO copywriting or content marketing. You will learn something from every job that you work in. However, it’s how you use that knowledge to enhance your future that will help you be prepared for the unexpected and have the right skills and credentials for any emerging job roles. Don’t be afraid to move jobs to gather these new skills.
It’s an exciting time for students, and the possibilities for new jobs are endless
It can be a scary thought to think that you could soon be working in a new, untapped field. But we think that’s really exciting. Not only can you develop your own niche talents, but you could have more opportunities than ever before.