Ask LH: What Can I Study That Won’t Become Obsolete?

Dear LH,

Due to technological advancements and societal trends, which types of careers are at most risk of becoming obsolete in the near future? Equally, what are the growth industries that students should be considering to ensure they will be in high demand after graduation and throughout their career?

From ellrob88

Education image via Shutterstock

Dear ellrob88

With UAC preferences due for this year’s HSC graduates in two weeks, a lot of teenagers are going to be currently pondering this question. Many once-common jobs are becoming increasingly automated — just look at how many shops are setting up self-service checkouts as one very visible and obvious example.

In Australia, some reports have estimated that anywhere up to a whopping half a million existing jobs could be replaced by robots or machines with artificial intelligence. According to this report from 2014, the jobs that are most at risk of being automated are accountants, cashiers and secretaries, along with a number of highly ‘process-based’ jobs in fields such as agriculture and manufacturing.

Although robots are set to steal many of our jobs, they can’t design themselves. Engineers and specialists in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence will be highly sought after, while other STEM fields are likely to grow in turn. In the US, STEM jobs are the largest growing sector , with available jobs in that field set to increase by 17% in the next ten years. While Australia doesn’t have as large a technology industry as the home of Silicone Valley, it doesn’t mean we won’t experience similar or even more rapid growth in the years to come.

With many parts of our lives moving online, web developers and app developers are also going to be in high demand. Recently, we even featured the story of a front-end web specialist who receives between five and ten job offers in an average week.

Even if you are not STEM inclined, having some basic knowledge is going to vastly increase your future employability — such as simple coding knowledge, or knowing how to develop a simple app. Recent movements have seen coding being taught to younger and younger students, and it won’t be long before it’s part of the core curriculum of Australian schooling. Make sure to catch up on it yourself before the next generation overtakes o


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