A recent study by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with FastFuture paints a fascinating portrait of careers in the year 2030. For example, advances in medical technology and a growing need to care for an aging population will mean that the hospital of the future may be run by body part makers, nano-medics and memory augmentation surgeons, collaborating with other specialists from around the world via video link.
But perhaps more than any other aspect of our modern lives, the Internet is certain to develop beyond recognition by 2030, giving rise to a whole host of online career paths. In this article we take a closer look at a selection of web-based roles from the study – and decide which are the good, the bad and the ugly.
Social Networking Worker
By 2030, the sheer scale of social networking related issues will create the need for a whole new branch of social worker – namely the social networking worker. Social networking workers will be the ‘good guys’ of the web; a much-needed support system for victims of social network related bullying or ‘trolling’. They will also offer counselling for people that have been left feeling inadequate or depressed after comparing their lives with their social network. The social networking worker would remind them that most people only post the ‘edited highlights’ of their lives online, and would perhaps even run ‘digital detox’ clinics where people could break the habit of checking their News Feed every 5 minutes. This is one role that would be useful in the year 2013, let alone 2030.
Virtual Clutter Organiser
As we spend more and more time online, we build up a collection of files and folders at an astonishing rate. Once upon a time, 32GB seemed like impossibly generous storage space, yet today our libraries of films, music, photos and work-related files can make short work of that, thank you very much. Unfortunately, for the less organised amongst us, locating an important file can be a matter of crossing your fingers and typing random keywords into your computer’s ‘Search’ bar – now what was it called again? – and particularly as more and more offices embrace collaborative work practices, such as cloud storage and file sharing, the disorganised digital habits of one employee could start to have a an increasingly negative impact on the productivity of the team.
By 2030, there will be a real need for virtual clutter organisers to create order out of digital chaos. Presumably, their focus will be on introducing organisational strategies for employees to manage their own virtual workspaces, rather than one-off clean-ups; or perhaps both services will be in high demand. Either way, the days of the overflowing inbox will soon be a thing of the past (and good riddance!).
The Bad – Maybe?
Waste Data Handler
On the Internet, nothing is truly lost. Of course, you can wipe your browser history and clear your cookies, and for an ordinary web user this is usually sufficient to protect your privacy. But organisations that produce highly sensitive material are all too aware that skilled hackers know how to retrieve deleted data. This is where the next generation of tech experts come in – waste data handlers.
Waste data handlers would properly dispose of highly sensitive online material to make sure that it cannot fall into the wrong hands. At first they would be employed only by governments and top-secret organisations, and they would have to sign official documents promising never to breathe a word of the material they saw or to pass it on to third parties. But after a while, their services would be in demand at every level of business. But whose secrets would they protect – and at what cost?
Let’s face it – most of us want to come across a certain way on social media. Whether it is the person with the witty statuses, the sarcastic tweeter or the party animal, the way we shape our online character has been described as a form of ‘personal branding’, where the self is a brand that we market through our carefully-written updates and selectively-tagged photos. Rightly or wrongly (i.e. wrongly), it is likely that some people will want to take this to the next level, which is where personal branders will come in. From drafting our tweets for us to Photoshopping our holiday snaps, personal branders will be the angel – or the devil – on our shoulders helping us to ‘sell ourselves’ to our social networks.
The next generation of web users will be able to pick and choose from a range of online careers that do not even exist yet – but if you look at how far the Internet has come in just 20 years, it is very possible that we won’t have to wait until 2030 to see these roles and many more materialise.
Having worked closely with recruitment company TSR Select for over a year, and with a background in digital marketing, Vikki likes to think she knows a thing or two about web-based careers. While she thinks virtual clutter organisers are a great idea, she suspects that personal branders are one role that the Internet could do without.