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What will technology jobs look like a decade from now?

Individuals will need to upskill to ensure career longevity even as automation takes over certain jobs. Careers in vogue right now may not even exist a decade later. Blockchain, cryptocurrency, robotics and autonomous vehicles —all emerging technologies — will become mainstream over the next decade, requiring thousands of specialists.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jan 06, 2020, 11.44 AM IST
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Automation
Solutions based on Artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things will become commonplace. This, in turn, will require an army of people to manage the data they generate.
India, till not so long ago, could not churn out enough software programmers to keep up with demand. Although the demand still exists, it has become more complex and specialised. Thomas Frey, who advises companies on future trends, says every job will be a technology job going forward. “Emerging technology will provide a lot more opportunities, where every job will have a technology element to it. It will not be about humans versus artificial intelligence, but about working with them.

People, however, need to be taught how to do this and enhance their skills,” the famed futurist and celebrity speaker said.

The Indian IT industry is at the crossroads. It needs to take strategic decisions to remain relevant in the future.

Individuals will need to upskill to ensure career longevity even as automation takes over certain jobs.

Careers in vogue right now may not even exist a decade later.

Blockchain, cryptocurrency, robotics and autonomous vehicles —all emerging technologies — will become mainstream over the next decade, requiring thousands of specialists.

Anil Talreja, partner, Deloitte India, says that people who can design and engineer apps and new use cases for technology will always remain in high demand. We will also have access to vast amounts of data going forward.

“There will be huge demand for people who can analyse and structure this data such that it can be useful. While management consultants may not be needed, we will need data analysts, designers and engineers who can create algorithms to retrieve and structure this data,” he said.

So, what will the technology jobs of the future look like?

ET asked a few thought leaders and compiled a list of the most likely roles.

Data Drivers
Solutions based on Artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things will become commonplace. This, in turn, will require an army of people to manage the data they generate.

“As we leverage the human machine interface and as AI implementation increases, we will need a lot more people to work on data tagging and cleaning and labelling, creating millions of new jobs,” said Debjani Ghosh, president of IT industry lobby Nasscom. “We will need people to work with machines to do it and if India can build skills, then we can do it. This would solve an existing problem, plus create jobs.”

Designing systems that can analyse and parse this data, while meeting ever evolving privacy norms across borders will be another requirement that will emerge across industry verticals.

By 2030, 500 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet. The data from many of these sensors are of importance to businesses, which require data scientists to analyse and help take business decisions. It also would throw up an opportunity for people who design these sensors, apart from implementing them across newer industries and finding new use cases.

Cybersecurity Experts
In the future, the world will be even more connected than it is today. Personal devices, machines, appliances, automobiles, everything will be connected to the internet, and emerge as a a potential target for cyber criminals. This will need far more people than today to anticipate the potential threats and create solutions for them. The electricity grid, the water supply system and the traffic lights will all be connected and any disruption could potentially create chaos in cities. India will require thousands of security experts who design systems that can constantly monitor threats, but also prevent attacks. Already, we see cyber criminals becoming more sophisticated in terms of the attack methodologies. These are still restricted primarily to computers but it is only a matter of time before all connected devices are under threat.

In addition to cyber security firms, these professionals would also be employed by device manufacturers and designers, to build in security features at the core of the device

Every Job will be a Tech Job
Lawyers and doctors will exist in the future, too, but those jobs will morph into tech jobs. “Roles like HR which are currently non-tech will become tech jobs. These will require a tech bent of mind,” said Shekhar Sanyal, country head, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, India. Robotic process automation and bots will thrive in the workplace and HR professionals will need to understand technology and business to understand their implications. Within consumer products, too, things will change.

The world buys close to 1.5 billion pairs of shoes a year. In the future, we will be able to slice and dice this depending on usage, and embed the required technology to enhance its functionality, such as a smart golfing shoe or to manage an injury. Gig workers will be the norm, experts say, moving across domains on the basis of their expertise in a specific technology area. What this will require is a change in how certain skills are taught in universities, with some basic tech skills being taught as part of the core curriculum, irrespective of the stream.

Traffic Monitoring Jobs
Drones for delivery and driverless cars will spur mini-industries of their own. Control rooms of the future will require traffic management skills that include operating drones, managing autonomous cars, besides regular vehicles. Beyond command centre operators, designers, programmers and cybersecurity experts will be needed to ensure smooth functioning.

Personal robots will also start replacing human assistants, in healthcare assistance or in customer service roles. This will require a dedicated ecosystem to build these robots and apps and maintain them, while keeping privacy and customer care at the core.

From UI/UX skills to creating specialised program architecture, maintaining and keeping these robots secure will require a dedicated fleet of developers.

Healthcare Workers
It is estimated that there will be 300 million more people over the age of 65 in 2030, compared to the number in 2014. Spends on healthcare will increase, but healthcare as we know it today would have changed.

Debjani Ghosh said health workers enabled by machines providing care would become more prevalent.

“If this is done in a structured way, then millions of jobs could be created. There is strong government support for skilling initiatives,” she said. When AI and robotics move to implementation stage, it will create opportunities across industries. The way doctors and nurses do their jobs will be greatly impacted by how technology evolves. Personal care robots will be ubiquitous, need ing a dedicated set of tech workers to run and maintain them. These would function in collaboration with healthcare professionals. Digitisation of personal health and preventive healthcare will turn into a separate industry, driven almost entirely by data and tech professionals, and not healthcare workers.

Space Tech Jobs
India’s space programme looks at tapping the private sector to build satellites and rockets to launch them from its spaceports. As Isro focuses on outer space missions to the Moon, Mars, Venus and the Sun and plans its first human space flight in the next two years, it will increasingly depend on the private sector to build and launch communication and remote sensing satellites. It also is looking to make India a hub to build small satellites and launch them from Indian soil, an industry, which officials say, has potential to replicate the country’s software industry. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has made people rethink space travel and exploration, according to Thomas Frey. Space tourism will create a mini industry of tech experts. Mission planning, launch management and experience design will have to be looked at through a tech lens, creating thousands of jobs requiring specialised skills.
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