Schoolchildren should prepare for a future that could see them have to diversify to work 40 different jobs until they reach 100 as many occupations are carried out by robots, a leading futurist has warned.
An increasing move towards sharing economy models of business could see people making a living from Uber and Airbnb rather than through a traditional career, Rohit Talwar said.
He is presenting his findings at the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), where he will call on school leaders to urgently think about how to prepare children for this rapidly changing working world.
He pointed to research that suggests that between 30% and 80% of all the jobs that exist today will disappear in the next 10 to 20 years as companies increasingly invest in automation, warning of an impending “huge disconnect”.
“On the one hand we’ll be living longer. On the other hand we’re not sure how people are going to earn the money to buy the goods and services that will largely be produced by smart software and robots,” he told reporters in St Andrews.
“The challenge we have is that nowhere around the world is anyone really trying to do some joined-up thinking about what would that look like in the future.
“Will it be right to assume that everyone will still have a job? Or will it be natural for 50% of the population to not be working?
“We need to start thinking about those things, we need to start thinking about the kinds of skills we’ll need to help people stay employable.
“If they do have a job all the way through their career, that means they’ll be working potentially up to the age of 100.” And they “might well have 40 jobs in that period in 10 different careers.”
Talwar, who helps businesses look at what the world might look like in five to 50 years, said the pupils of today could go on to have a “portfolio career”.
“You might be driving Uber part of the day, renting out your spare bedroom on Airbnb a little bit, renting out space in your closet as storage for Amazon, doing delivery for Amazon or housing the drone that does delivery for Amazon,” said Talwar.
“There are all these sort of new sharing economy models coming through, but I’m not sure if you’re a lawyer today, that’s a very attractive option to move into for the future.”
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