School & District Management

How AI Is Shaping Jobs of the Future: What It Means for Schools

By Alyson Klein — June 11, 2019 4 min read
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Juvenile Cybercrime Rehabilitation Counselor. Cyber Attack Agent. Data Detective. Augmeted Reality Journey Builder. Artificial Intelligence-Assisted Healthcare Technician.

You probably won’t find ‘help wanted’ ads for those positions on Indeed or Monster right now. But you might ten years down the road, according to a pair of reports—21 Jobs of the Future and21 More Jobs of the Future—shared during a recent webinar with Cognizant, a multi-national Information Technology company based in Teaneck, N.J. Each report, including one released in recent months, imagines 21 jobs that are likely to hit the labor market in the next decade.

A big part of the reason for this labor shift: AI. The rise of Artificial Intelligence—the kind of “machine learning” behind smart speakers like Siri and Alexa—is “the great story of our time,” said Robert Brown, an Associate Vice-president at Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work.

In fact, experts expect that over the next decade or so, about 12 percent of jobs will be lost to automation, while AI will create another 13 percent of jobs. The other 75 percent or so will be augmented or changed, thanks to AI, said Desmond Dickerson, a senior consultant with Cognizant’s Center on the Future of Work.

People are very good at the “art” of the job, Brown said, things like reading emotions, exercising empathy, using judgement, and understanding social context. People ask “what’s the right thing to do?” Machines, on the other hand, are good at the science of the job, things like heavy data analysis and pattern reaction. Machines ask “based on statistical analysis, what’s the most appropriate next action.”

So, given that context, what do K-12 schools need to do to prepare kids for jobs that don’t exist yet? First off, they need to make it clear to students that graduation day isn’t the end of the learning rainbow.

Schools need to “instill life-long learning in students,” Dickerson said. “You’re going to get to graduate but that’s not going to be the end for you,” he said, “you’re always going to be learning and you’re always going to be growing.”

What’s more, don’t ditch the humanities. Even though many of the jobs that Brown and Dickerson believe will exist in the future have a strong tech focus, it will still be important for students to understand things like ethics, which will play a critical role in the new economy.

What are some of the possible jobs of the future? Here’s a quick rundown of ten possibilities Cognizant identified in its reports. Some of these may sound a little out there, but so did “social media manager” just a few short years ago and now it’s a fast-growing profession.

1. Juvenile Cybercrime Rehabilitation Counselor—This person would be responsible for persuading kid hackers—like the ones profiled in this story—to work with schools to help young cyber criminals redirect their talents. Background in IT and psychology helpful. This is a low-to-mid tech job.

2. Algorithm Bias Auditor—This person would work with a team to make sure that the AI used by a company is free from bias, which is already seen as a big potential pitfall of machine-learning systems. Experience in IT, compliance, or executive management necessary. This is a mid-to-high tech gig.

3. Data detective—This person would comb through data sets generated by devices, sensors, biometric monitors (like facial recognition software) and more to find answers and generate new questions. This is considered a high tech job, and requires a background in math, science, economics, or law.

4. AI Business Development Manager—AI can do a lot of things but it can’t sell itself. This person would work with sales, marketing, and other teams to sell AI services and products. It’s considered a low-to-mid tech job, and applicants would need a background in business development.

5. AI Assisted Healthcare Technician—In the future, AI may be able to do a lot of the diagnostic work now done by doctors. This person would help facilitate that process, and consult with remote medical professionals when necessary. This is considered a high-tech position and a degree in nursing would be necessary.

6. Digital Tailor—Right now, 40 percent of online clothing orders are returned because of fit. These tailors would go to people’s homes and help them figure out how to tailor any clothing that’s ordered online, as soon as the order comes. It’s a low-tech position.

7. Augmented Reality Journey Builder—Customers of the future will want their experiences in augmented reality to be personalized and exciting. It would be up to this person to write and build these “mindblowing” stories and experiences. This is a high tech position, and film school would be a plus.

8. Highway Controller—This person would help manage automated vehicles on both the open road and in the air. A bachelor’s degree in computer science, math, or physics is desirable. This would be a low-tech position.

9. Cyber attack agent—This person would help fight against cyber warfare—something we’re already seeing through the 2015 attack on Ukraine’s power cycle and the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This person would need a security clearance and excellent communication skills. This is a high tech job.

10. Joy Adjutant—This person would use an AI platform to help people figure out which of their items to throw away because they either aren’t used, or don’t spark joy (ala Marie Kondo). This is a low-tech job.

Image: Getty

Want to see which actual jobs that you’ve actually heard of are the fastest growing? Check out this recent story, which was part of a broader report on the Future of Work.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.