I started this exercise a few months back during a discussion with my daughter about possible career streams that she could consider. As I started researching I can only say that massive Change is round the corner … you can sense it.
Lets look at a few things thats happening in the world
- My engineering college project was on Alternate Sources of Energy – after 25 years Solar power finally seems to be a reality. It is estimated that by 2040 – 60% of the worlds energy will come from renewable zero emission sources. Its threatening Oil / Coal / Fossil prices the world over – Clean energy seems to be round the corner. Oil prices are at a historical low and the Middle East could be facing a huge threat.
2. Which is great – given the way we have polluted the environment. Our Cities are full of smoke, our seas are full of trash, our lakes are disappearing, the glaciers are receding…. – in the last 50 years mankind has damaged the planet the most in its 5 Billion years of existence -We are on the edge of collapse. Animals are becoming extinct and we are thinking of having drones to replace bees to pollinate the flowers.
3. A lot of the pollution is driven by the rapid growth of population – with 7 B people we are bursting at our seams and we are expected to grow to 9 B soon. Every year 77 M people are moving to Urban Cities – we now have 29 Cities with population of over 10M ( that was 14 in 1995) – a lot of the population growth is driven by lesser deaths and longer life spans – thanks to the development in medicine. By 2020 for the 1st time the world will have more people >65 years of age than those below the age of 5. Today there are 8 working people supporting every pensioner , by 2050 only 4 people will support that pensioner.
4. Nobody wants to work in farms and food and meat will soon be developed in the lab. Yes, it does save a lot of resources – given that animals and farm produce consume a lot of natural resources. ( Did you know that producing 1 kg of rice needs over 3000 litres of water and 1 KG of Beef needs over 15,000 litres of water). The machines are already replacing the farmers and with technology evolving the new age robots may be even be able to pluck vegetables and fruits.
5. Add to this Technology revolution continues unabated. This year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a term coined by Klaus Schwab to describe the new generation of technological advances – sensors, robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, precision medicine – coming together to define the next wave of progress. These new technologies have the potential to transform our lives – but in the near term they will cause massive unemployment. Robots are developing sensory and perception power – a large part of not just mundane jobs but even intelligent jobs are being threatened. Driverless cars, ships , buses, trains are already being tested.
6. All this could threaten jobs and cause massive unemployment. Indian IT industry could lose over 6.4 Lac jobs by 2020. Average real salary of the working class has hardly gone up in the last 20 years and the 1% rich control more than 90% of the worlds wealth. Class inequality is on the rise. An idle mind is a devils workshop – so we see misguided youth joining ISIS and fomenting trouble all across the world.
7. We are seeing the impact of this in Trump & BREXIT. When jobs and livelihood are threatened borders close down. The world is no longer a Global Village. The world is suddenly seeing the emergence of very strong national leaders in Putin, Abe, Merkel, Modi … and we may be surprised with who the next President of the US is.
The future looks kind of grave from a 16 year old’s point of view. Where do you focus? Many European countries are seeing 50% unemployment as robots and intelligent computers take over. Law Grads in the US are struggling to get jobs and pay back their loans as the research work has been taken over by robots and intelligent computers.
8. As jobs get fewer – its difficult to sustain work life for more than 25 years , 45 – 50 is the new retirement age not 60 ( Unless you are lucky to be working in a Government Job). Yes the folks in European Countries with their excellent social support system can manage – but what happens to emerging countries if you work for 25 years but need to live till you are 100. Will your savings sustain ?
9. All this confusion and chaos is seeing the slow but steady rise of spirituality. Yoga and vegetarian food is growing in popularity the world over. Pranic healing , Reiki , Meditation, Naturopathy …. are all gaining ground. People are tired with excess and everyone is looking for some peace and solace.
What does this mean for generation next. A few tough questions that the young generation needs to answer to determine their future – 90% of the jobs of today may not exist 10 years from now as the 4th Industrial Revolution starts accelerating
- Is the future brighter in Emerging Markets or in developed Countries ? Do we stay in countries like India which is expected to register 8% growth for the next 20 – 30 years or do we go to the US for higher studies.
- Programming and Computer Science – is that a career – or does every job need coding , do we go Applied Science or Pure Science for our Undergrad
- Should we struggle for 10 years to be a Doctor or be a Bio Tech Scientist working on the next set of new tech medicines. For all you know the doctor of tomorrow may well be a robot.
- Can environment sciences really evolve as a serious career option
- Is the current educational system geared for equipping the students for the 4th Revolution – as the colleges in India are clearly still teaching content from the 80’s.
- The last 50 years have seen the emergence of large corporates – will this trend continue? Will the tech revolution continue? Or is there a new Microsoft / Google / Apple waiting to emerge?
- What are the skills we need to succeed in the near future?
These are some hard questions for which we need to find answers. Change is always difficult to absorb but the youth have the resilience to adapt. Those of us in the 40’s will be lucky to see yet another massive wave of change after the Internet / Smart Phone boom, but will we be able to digest this new change? Of that I am not entirely sure. Only time will tell.