Two-thirds of Americans believe that, in 50 years, robots and computers will do much of the work humans now do. The World Economic Forum’s 2016 report, The Future of Jobs, estimates that 5 million jobs will be lost to automation by 2020 and that the number will keep growing. Jobs that once seemed like “safe bets”—office workers and administrative personnel, manufacturing, and even law—will be hit hardest, the report estimates.
“There are some overarching shifts poised to change the nature of work itself over the next decade,” says Devin Fidler, research director at Institute for the Future, a nonprofit research center focused on long-term forecasting. That includes a demand for new skills and strategies that could help people to thrive in future work environments,
So what do you need to work on to be marketable in 2025? Here are six skill areas that the experts recommend, as well some of the strongest job-growth categories, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and other sources—that relate to them.
TECHNOLOGY AND COMPUTATIONAL THINKING
It’s no surprise that tech skills will be in demand. However, Fidler says that “computational thinking”—the ability to manage the massive amounts of data we process individually each day, spot patterns, and make sense out of all of it—will be valued.
“As the total amount of information coming at you increases and increases, the ability to manage that in a way that you’re not overwhelmed, is pretty key,” he says.
Related jobs: Software developer jobs will grow 18.8% between now and 2024, according to the BLS, while computer systems analyst jobs will increase 20.9% by 2024. Market research analyst and marketing specialist jobs, which also require those analytical skills, will increase 18.6%.
As more people live longer, every aspect of the health care sector is poised for growth. And while telemedicine, robotic surgical equipment, and other forms of automation are changing how some health care is delivered, demand for caregivers is going to increase as we commit to providing health care for more of the population—a population that is growing and living longer, says John Challenger, CEO of outplacement and career coaching firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc.
Related jobs: Challenger’s firm analyzed the hottest job sectors from 2018 through 2025 and half of the sectors were caregiving and health-related. Hot fields included medical technicians, physical therapists, and workplace ergonomics experts. Veterinarians will also be in demand, the report found. BLS also found that support jobs related to caregiving, such as medical secretaries and medical assistants will also be in high demand. Home health aide jobs are expected to grow a whopping 38.1%.
SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE AND NEW MEDIA LITERACY
It’s going to take a long time for robots to be good at soft skills, like social and emotional intelligence and cross-cultural competency, “which are hugely valuable in a world where you or I could go and be working with somebody in the Philippines within an hour. Virtual collaboration itself is really useful in that environment as well,” Fidler says. In addition, new media literacy—understanding various media platforms and how to best communicate effectively in them—are valuable skills that robots won’t be likely to match any time soon.
Related jobs: Sales and related jobs are one of the top five growth areas worldwide, according to the WEF report. In the U.S., BLS projects that jobs for retail and other sales representatives, marketing specialists, and customer service representatives are each projected to grow between 6.4% and 18.6%, depending on the category by 2024.