Many have predicted doom and gloom for the jobs market in the face of new disruptive technologies like A.I. and robotics, but there are extremely positive signs to quell fears about jobs disappearing. History shows us that jobs don’t just disappear. They are redefined or replaced with new ones over time, and sometimes not as quickly as you might think. Did you know that the only job to have been completely eliminated by automation since 1950 is the elevator operator, according to Boston University economist James Bessen?
The pace of change is going to accelerate, but job growth in the next decade is actually expected to outstrip growth during the previous decade, creating 11.5 million jobs in the U.S. by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not yet been invented, according to one forecast from the Institute for the Future.
These jobs have to come from somewhere. New roles are emerging all the time, replacing older ones and increasing the demand for new types of skills. It will give workers at all levels opportunities to grow, especially those who are looking to change careers, or relocate.
But what do these emerging roles and skills look like, and what do they tell us about the way we’ll work in the years to come? Using LinkedIn data from the last five years, we’ve identified the jobs and skill sets growing the fastest, and what we found confounded some of the conventional wisdom about the future of work.
Technology is already shaping the jobs market of the future—almost half of the 20 fastest-growing jobs have technology skills at their core. Machine learning engineer and data scientist jobs in particular have grown rapidly in the past five years. This comes as no real surprise, but demand is coming from tech and non-tech companies alike—and in some cases the supply can’t keep up with demand.
For example, data scientist jobs have grown over 650% since 2012, but only 35,000 people in the U.S. currently have data science skills. Meanwhile, hundreds of companies are hiring for those roles—even in sectors like retail and finance. Machine learning engineer jobs have grown even more rapidly at 980%, and there are more than 1,600 open roles in the U.S., as companies scramble to gain a competitive edge through automation. Demand is currently concentrated in large cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, but this will change in the years to come as the pool of companies and industries using machine learning technology broadens.
With these roles emerging so quickly, it’s telling that there’s no predefined career path for people in these roles today. Rewind five years, and the people in these jobs were everything from research and teaching assistants, to software engineers and analysts.
Customer success managers
Tech’s influence on the jobs of tomorrow is far reaching, but other fast-growing roles have emerged, reflecting broader societal trends such as flexibility and location mobility. Take a role like customer success manager, which has grown 560%. The rapid growth of this and other customer-facing roles suggests that the “age of the customer” is more than just jargon.
Licensed realtors also rank highly as the post-Great Recession recovery of the real estate market rolls forward. In the past year alone, the number of licensed realtors has surged 40%.
Both of these roles tend to be more widely distributed across U.S. regions, and are some of the least automatable jobs currently on the market because they rely more heavily on soft, transferable skills like communication and management. Their rise should mean more opportunity for a broader base of workers who possess these soft skills, although they are more difficult to teach and learn than hard skills, and our education system has so far struggled to develop scalable and effective ways to teach them.
Change is coming to all types of roles within every industry, making it more important than ever for today’s workers to learn new skills and retrain for long-term career success. Many are already aware of this—38% of workers told us they think their skills will be outdated within the next five years.
Come what may, it’s clear that technology will play a big role shaping the future. Whether it’s tech-focused roles and skills, the emergence of technical skills in formerly non-technical jobs, or new non-technical roles emerging as the result of tech’s growth, nearly every role will have a technology component in the future.
Guy Berger is an economist at LinkedIn.