Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Futurists predict new career trends

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Forget the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker: In 20 years, some of the most popular jobs could include vertical farmer, space pilot and body part maker, a report commissioned by the UK government said.

Shape of Jobs to Come predicts advances in science and technology, coupled with the expected onset of climate change, could make for career paths that are virtually unrecognizable today.

The research company Fast Future was asked by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to compile a list of jobs as part of the government’s “Science: [So what? So everything]” campaign, launched last year to encourage a better understanding of science.

The company asked a network of “futurists and future thinkers” to consider likely science and technology developments before suggesting specific jobs.

The result was a list of 110 roles, whittled down to 20 for the study.

Traditional roles within medicine and farming are expected to rely much more heavily on the use of computers and robots, while careers in social work are predicted to expand, to deal with the continuing increase in popularity of social networking sites.

Some of the most exciting developments are expected to come in medicine, where the study predicts the creation of new limbs and organs will become a reality, meaning body part makers will be in demand. Nano-medics will also be an aspirational career, with possible advances leading to the development of a nano boat, which would navigate through the body destroying cancerous cells.

Fast Future chief executive Rohit Palwar predicted the generation of extra limbs would be invaluable to the military, but could see more use in sport.

“If you’re spending £80 million [US$130 million] on a footballer and for £2 million you can have a couple of spare legs, then you’re going to do it,” he said.

“You might say as a preventative measure, rather than three months’ recovery let’s have an artificial limb ready so we can replace their leg and have them back playing again within a few days or weeks,” he said.

The team considered factors as diverse as the rise of space tourism, the risk of a deadly virus and the onset of climate change in compiling the list — three events that could lead to people working as space pilots or tour guides, quarantine enforcers and climate change reversal specialists.

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