New careers: 2020 and beyond

Consider the emerging business trends and think forward. What new skills in information management, healthcare and innovation will take the businesses of 2020 and beyond towards a prosperous future?


Cyber crime frequency and cost has risen for three straight years. Yet the first national Cyber Crime and Security Survey released by the Australia Federal Government in February this year showed that 35 per cent of companies had IT security staff with no formal training to prevent cyber attacks, or to manage them when they occur.

With the cost to business at around $11 million a year, with some companies falling victim to 40 successful cyber attacks each week, according to a study published by Ponemon Institute in October 2012, business is beginning to realise that cyber security experts are as integral to modern business as forts with moats and battlements were to medieval warfare.


We are amassing a huge stash of information from everyone, from customers, suppliers, government and even virtual passers-by. How do you turn these terrabytes of data into something useful for your business? The answer, it appears, is to hire a data scientist. A data scientist knows how to extract useful, tailored, bespoke analytics that can have an impact on your many business activities: predicting market shifts and shapes, measuring success, illuminating possible opportunities for new products or markets.


Economists increasingly acknowledge that all costs and benefits of production and market forces must include environmental influences like pollution and natural resource depletion. An environmental economist acknowledges the value of both environmental and economic activity and makes choices based on those values to balance them and to assess how markets can be protected from environmental failure.


T-shirts with touch screen capability, Google glasses with onboard computer, Pilates pants that tell you if you are bending properly, 3D print your own dresses at home. Wearable technology is about to become mainstream. But, will it look good? Would you let a computer geek design your outfits? Designers who know how to take technical genius and make it desirable on the catwalk will be in demand.


The era of personalised medicine is with us. The day that your GP takes your temperature or feels for lumps with a stethoscope in one hand and your personal genome sequence in another is upon us. We are going to know a lot more about what our bodies might have in store, for us and for the generations that follow.

Health professionals with specialised training as genetic counsellors will become a crucial part of the healthcare process, advising individuals, couples and families on how to understand and adapt to the medical, psychological, familial and reproductive implications of the genetic contribution to their specific health conditions. Genetic counsellors will serve as patient advocates, educators and resource people for other healthcare professionals and for the general public.


According to Forbes magazine, the growth in home health aides has been 70 per cent over the last 10 years, and with health economics focussing on managing chronic illness and the elderly in their own home, the demand for in-home professional care will increase. But the skills will change. With the advances in ehealth delivery and back-to-base remote monitoring, home care workers will be experienced in data management and front line primary health care delivery under the remote supervision of a range of medical specialists.


Innovation – the holy grail of productivity growth – comes in many forms. One, argues Bronwyn Fryer in this HBR blog, can come not from new thinking, but from fusing a couple of old ideas in completely new ways. Take, for example, the user interface for the Apple Mac – fusing calligraphy with technology to produce Apple’s elegant fonts.

An ideas fuser uses associative thinking to cut across barriers and divisions that others may fear to challenge. Idea fuser may well be the next must-have résumé job experience.


We can add gigabytes to hard drives, why not extra capacity to our hard task memories? MIT Media Lab is working on devices as varied as always-on, wearable palmtops that constantly sense the environment, always looking for documents and content relevant to your situation, and face and speech recognition software that can provide information based on what and who is around you. For example, when you meet someone at a trade show, your augmented memory device will remind you who this person is, give their vital information and bring up the notes on your last meeting with them.


Nanomedicine is the delivery of health care via ‘nanoscale’ healthcare devices, procedures and body inserts, including molecular level drug delivery systems and ‘cargo ships’ that seek out cancerous cells in the bloodstream. According to Bloomberg Week, a computer science professor at Duke University, Bruce Donald, has been creating the world’s smallest, untethered, controllable robots. At just 60 microns wide (that’s small, the eye of a needle is 1230 microns wide) they could possibly insert electrons into neurons in the brain.


With the rise of cloning and other ethically debatable practices, ethicists will be needed to ford the river of progress, mapping a fine line between an innate human curiosity into what might be possible and beneficial and what might be possible but unacceptable to our shared sense of humanity.


With the world’s population expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, food production must increase by 70 per cent, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. But competition for land is fierce. Available space to expand agriculture is becoming scarce. Scientists, architects, environmental engineers and farmers are looking to new dimensions. Up.

Take Gotham Green in New York’s Brooklyn. This rooftop operation grows lettuces on a commercial scale, hydroponically, using recycled and mineral-enhanced water. Solar panels provide half of Gotham’s electricity, and climatic conditions are controlled by computer to adjust the heat or to cool the air and switch on lights on cloudy days. The venture, founded in 2008, is set to expand to two more sites this year, and to increase its crop base.

Last updated:
27 February 2019