Where the jobs will be through 2020 and beyond

Career trends: The essential skills you’ll need for the jobs of the next five years

Peter Harris|

Demographics, cultural trends, and new technologies are rapidly changing the job market.

People are living much longer than we used to. New technologies and automation are rapidly replacing repetitive jobs. New communication tools are eliminating formerly popular mediums for disseminating information (good-bye printed newspapers) at the same time as requiring more advanced media literacy skills for most new jobs.

After researching job market shifts for a recent Thinkopolis labour report, we’ve taken a closer look at how to choose education and training for the job market of the next five to ten years.

Key take-aways

  • When it comes to landing a job, digital literacy is the new literacy
  • Eight jobs that will always be in demand
  • Where the jobs will (and won’t) be created over the next five to ten years
  • Communications, tech savvy, and constant learning will be required for jobs in all fields

When planning for the future, it’s better to look at long term labour market trends, rather than currently ‘hot jobs’.

For example, right now, Social Media Experts are in high demand. That’s because the technology is still relatively new, and organizations are learning how best to use it to communicate with consumers. By more ‘digital natives,’ people who’ve grown up always using social media tools, enter the workforce, these skills will be ubiquitous rather than specialties – rendering ‘experts’ no longer necessary. (See: Ten disappearing jobs.)

New media literacy will be one of the essential skills required as the price of admission for more and more roles. This is defined as the ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication. Digital literacy is the new literacy.

One thing is clear, if a job can easily be automated, replaced by technology, then it probably will be. This is why we’re seeing the decline or disappearance of jobs such as toll booth operators and retail cashiers. Canada Post is phasing out door-to-door mail delivery service. This will only add to the trend that we’re already seeing in the decline of postal worker jobs. Couriers and delivery people remain in demand as shopping online continues to play an expanding part in the retail sector. Experts are still waiting to see what impact the driverless car technology will have on the transportation and delivery sectors.

One of the things we’re seeing is the decline is unskilled work – or work that requires only one highly-specialized skill. People are being asked to perform a wider variety of complex tasks now. Communications skills, tech savvy, and constant learning will be increasingly required for jobs in all fields.


    On the bright side of jobs being replaced by technology is that this means a boost in technology-related career options. Every new form of automation or robotics requires engineers and technicians to develop and maintain.

    The move from desktops and laptop to smart phones and tablets has created a current high demand for application developers and designers. So while we can’t predict exactly where technology will be at in 2020, but we can advise people to keep up with the latest trends and tools of their time. Everyone will have to be more ‘tech savvy.’ Workers will need to evolve their skills as technology also evolves.

    These same disruptive trends that phase out some jobs will lead to the creation of new ones. [View the latest Technology and Digital Media jobs.]


    The aging population will continue to require more workers in a wide range of medical professions. Doctors, obviously, will be in demand, but also Nurses, Healthcare Managers and Technicians, Pharmacists, Care-givers and Elder-care Coordinators.

    A mixture of healthcare and technology education would be a powerful combination. Biomedical engineering is expected to be one of the hottest fields over the coming decade.

    Alternately, learning both healthcare and business management skills could also lead to numerous career paths in hospitals, clinics, private care institutions and public health departments. [View the latest Healthcare jobs.]

    Business and Finance

    Businesses will continue to seek new ways attract customers and understand market trends. Data analysts, and market researchers will continue to be hot career paths for the foreseeable future.

    Skilled sales people are always in demand. When making financial decisions, many people still like to talk to a human being and shake someone’s hand. That can’t be automated. For that same reason, financial advisors and financial services jobs will continue to be secure options. [View the latest Business and Finance jobs.]

    Jobs that will always be in demand

    There are also those career-paths that will never become obsolete. Although supply and demand can fluctuate, there will always be a basic need for people in roles such as

    The skilled trades are also stable jobs that will always be needed. And not enough young people consider these options, which has led to an ongoing shortage of trades workers. This means numerous opportunities and higher wages for many skilled trades. The demand for Electricians, Welders, Carpenters, Construction workers and other trades people will be a constant.

If young people want to create a powerful career path, one where they have the option to be their own boss, they can’t go wrong with an education that includes technology, and business management or marketing – along with obtaining an expertise at one of the skilled trades.

This kind of cross-disciplinary education is going to be the key to future success. An engineer with technical wizardry may be a genius at what they do, but an engineer with solid technical abilities as well as advanced communications skills is a rock star.

Critical thinking and problem solving skills also cannot be automated. The best paid and most secure jobs will go to people with solid analytic and interactive abilities.

See also:
The skills you need to add to your resume to get hired in 2015
The 10 skills you’ll need for the jobs of 2020 (and why we’re going to need them)
Preparing for the 20 most in-demand jobs from now through 2020

Peter Harris
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