Image Credit: AFP

Recently we were invited to join the Virtual Parent/Teacher conference to discuss my daughter’s General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSE) exam options for Year 10. Parents have been given a twenty-page guide that will familiarise them with the selection process. The first line of the guide states — ’Choosing the right subjects will determine the students’ progress towards their ambitions and achieve their full potential in life.’ If that isn’t enormous pressure, I don’t know what is! I have devoured the guide and read any material I can get my hands on to aid the decision process.

Science, Maths, and English are compulsory subjects. Thank God for that. Three less choices to make. From the rest of the options available, we have to pick four or five subjects that are best suited to the child’s skill and capacity. One language is mandated. That’s easy too since she has been studying French. That’s four down and four to go. Should it be the creative arts like music, drama, or photography? It’s a risky business, and unless you are J.K. Rowling, most people cannot earn a great living from the arts. Vincent Van Gogh lived in abject poverty and only became famous and rich after he died. So what advice do I give my creatively inclined daughter? Computer Science, no doubt, is the flavour of the decade. When Google can give you all the answers, what is the need for social studies like history and geography? So what will give your child that competitive edge in the new world? Which are the best jobs of the future?

My research lead me to some interesting findings.

A recent report by World Economic Forum and Boston Consulting suggests that one million current jobs will vanish in the next decade, with technology rendering most of them obsolete. With this in mind, candidates for future employment will have to acquire new skills to compete in the job market. When I read about future job predictions, I thank my stars that I was born in a simpler time. Here are some of my favourite ones:

1. Space Pilot — The commercial space industry is getting ready to launch’ making this a highly coveted job. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently outlined a long-term vision for putting a trillion people in space colonies. SpaceX is aiming to colonise Mars and making humanity a multi-planetary species. In my time, getting your car driver licence was considered an outstanding achievement.

2. Extinct species revivalist- Scientists estimate that between 200 and 2000 species die off each year, and this number is expected to double in the next few decades. The technology to revive extinct species is already available. Remember Dolly, the Sheep?

3. Digital Rehabilitation Counselor — we have heard about addictive and destructive social media. It will be a major driver of mental health costs in the next ten years, and digital rehabilitation counsellors will be in great demand to help people get their lives back from the clutches of social media. I relate to this one — I’m probably a prime candidate for such counselling.

4. Quarantine Enforcers — Given that pandemics are the new normal, enforcers will need to ensure rules are being followed. Those among us who think wearing a mask is an infringement of their personal freedom need strict monitoring.

5. Personal Data Broker- will ensure consumers receive revenue from their data. The broker will establish prices and execute trades. Your opinions, your thoughts, and your behaviours are valuable. Why should Facebook and Google make money using your data without compensating you for it? Finally, there seems to be a way to earn money by doing nothing.

6. Fitness commitment counsellor — Broken your fitness resolution for 2021 already? With the looming obesity problems of the future, there will be a need for someone to physically drag you out of your bed and take you to gym — an advanced, multidisciplinary personal trainer of sorts. Like me, you may already have a friend or a significant other who plays that role right now.

7. Drone Pilot — As drones go mainstream, many companies are hiring individuals who can easily handle drones in a public place. Perhaps, Amazon is the most popular example of a company using drone pilots to manoeuvre their gadgets for packet deliveries. City governments in some countries are already hiring drone pilots for projects such as environmental cleaning and weather reports. So if your child is into drones, you’d better encourage that hobby right now.

8. Joy Adjutant — Think Marie Condo — the famous Japanese organising consultant. Today we have a problem of plenty, and people are weighed down by their material belongings. The minimalist approach is the future, and joy adjutants will help people live decluttered, simpler, happier lives. Our parents were born to play that role -unfortunately, we don’t seem to have learnt from them.

Now I’m wondering how any of the GCSE subjects will prepare our children for future jobs? I think I’ll ask Siri.

Hima Pathak is a banker and writer based in Dubai.