Tomorrow’s working world: an exchange of ideas


I have a few friends who one way or another are looking for jobs without much luck. Yesterday night we discussed how the working world is changing, and we tried to evaluate which might be the professions of the future. The same question could also be, what would you suggest your children choose as a profession, and what would be the best way to prepare for it?

Replicable professions

A good friend of ours, who is working in the educational sector, mentioned that hairdressing is considered a profession which will still be present in the future as it is not easily replicable. Other professions such as taxi driver and supermarket cashier are positions that may be replaced by electronic devices. Banks will also be radically different from what we know today, which for Switzerland is a major challenge, since banks play a big role in the country’s economy.

What about educational structures?

A big challenge is the role of the educational structures. Since technologies have significantly increased the speed of change, a risk that students face today is learning for a long period of time, only to, once finished with formal education, discover that the industry requirements have changed. So what should schools teach, and how should they teach? I, for example, was taught to learn by books, reading in libraries, doing research. With the introduction of tablets in the classroom, will all of this still be necessary? How will the libraries change (and the role of the librarian, how will it develop? Will it?)? A critical point for schools is the relationship with the working world: discussing with each other, and having someone from the educational field in our circle was of great help. We agreed that there is a big gap between educational structures and the working world. It appears that the educational system is backward, where a student was able to choose an educational path to follow, and this would bring him to a position in the industry of his choice. But it is not like this any longer, and schools have not yet adapted to that, and some of us believe that they would not know how to adapt.

Which candidates are companies looking for?

We tried to answer that question, and we agreed that it would be best to keep as general a profile as possible and specialize only later. Also, as the majority of people have access to higher educational skills, the educational curriculum followed will be less compelling than personal, unique characteristics, soft skills and cultural background.

Artisans and managers?

In concluding our exchange of opinions we agreed that the roles which would be interesting in the future are probably the ones covered by artisans with a managerial education, who are able to identify market niches and make them accessible to the masses. Of course a lot of work is part of the deal. We also discussed working slavery, meaning that in society we are pushed to work more and more, but for what? Perhaps a topic for the next post….

3 thoughts on “Tomorrow’s working world: an exchange of ideas

  1. I would argue that “artisan managers” have already long been in existence. They are typically engineers, and generally people who come from technical backgrounds, who often do an MBA to cover broad managerial principles.

    Working slavery is what some call “(hourly) wage slavery,” an issue for those who earn meager wages and live a precarious existence, “paycheck to paycheck.”

    In terms of how to prepare for a profession I agree that it is good to follow a general path and specialize only later. Specifically, I think that PCM (physics/chemistry/math) are crucial, almost no matter what. Something else I think is critical, which Switzerland has maintained, is the apprenticeship system.

    Here is a list of what I think are some generally pretty useful things to know to optimize one’s chances of building a career, and to have fairly broad options in terms of what that career may be:

    Languages (dependent on geographic area and sector, but candidates include English, German, French, Japanese, Mandarin, etc.)

    Mathematics (through integral calculus at a minimum, ideally through differential equations)

    Chemistry (at least the 1-year inorganic sequence)

    Physics (at least 1 year calculus-based)

    Law (at least contracts, torts, civil procedure, criminal practice)

    Accounting (at least financial accounting, managerial/management accounting, taxation, audit)

    International monetary system/money supply/financial instruments/financial markets/financial analysis/valuation/(corporate) finance

    Psychology/behavioral finance/technical analysis

    Risk management

    International trade, and trade finance (UCP, Incoterms, CISG, URC, ISP, URDG, URR, ISBP, URBPO)

    Real estate

    Economic development

    Data analysis/Python (incl. NumPy, SciPy, Pandas, matplotlib)


    Excel (incl. vlookups, pivot tables, macros)



    Apache Cassandra


    Technical drawing/SolidWorks


    Subtractive manufacturing (machining)

    Additive manufacturing (3D printing)


    1. Dear m,

      thank you very much for your post, really appreciated.

      Although I agree that probably “artisan managers” is a role which is already present now, and that in five years time, there will already be at least an evolution of it, I don’t understand why you think of them as engineers. What I meant with “artisan” is someone who hasn’t got an university degree, but learned a specific profession, like the carpenter, goldsmith, hairdresser,… add a managerial education on top and this professionals could be favourite in finding a rewarding business.

      Regarding the “working slavery” I wasn’t thinking about the proper and exact meaning of it: instead I have been reflecting about the fact that working our whole life, constantly thinking on achieving more, or how to do things faster,… is this making us feel “free”? Or is this some kind of “politically correct” slavery? 😉

      By the way I hope you had a nice Christmas, wish you all the best for 2017!


  2. Regarding engineers/artisans I think back to the days in which many people learned their professions largely or completely on the job, outside the classroom, which was the case even for lawyers for example. So I would say that my reference to engineers/artisans does not simply include those who are “Dipl. Ing. ETH” but those who have tangible technical skills also when those skills are acquired completely outside the classroom. I suppose I say engineer specifically since engineers have a fairly broad technical skillset which can be adapted for a wide set of applications.

    I have also seen enough skilled tradespeople, e.g. carpenters, hairdressers, who have real business smarts, only not having gone through MBA studies they do not assign cliché b******* management consultant labels such as SWOT or Five Forces to their thought processes! 😉 Especially when these skilled tradespeople are entrepreneurs with their own “skin (£€$) in the game” they seem to know how to run a tight ship, and enjoy the fulfillment that comes from that success!

    Also, in terms of working slavery, there seem to be two facets to that. One is the precarious “paycheck to paycheck” existence, the other the dead-end job which may not pay badly but through which one does not learn any skills which may be applicable in any other jobs or through one would likely build a career through professional advancement. I think that the typical mindset of the MBA-educated upper management is to “thank” for these phenomena including 360 degree feedback, and practically no one ever bothers questioning these, er, questionable methods.

    Especially with publicly-listed companies, with the pressures of quarterly results, but even with privately-held companies, there may be expectations of constant growth, with significant pressures. These pressures certainly contribute to the constant drive to improve “efficiency,” revenue, and margins. With automation (robots do not need coffee breaks) and a significant supply of unskilled laborers, it is no wonder that in society there are many who are not so much after a better, more balanced existence, but seeking just to survive.

    Apparently there are white-shoe law firms in the US and UK outsourcing their paralegal work to low-wage countries.

    I find troubling that career service offices of universities often enough have students take personality tests which they use to recommend a course of study or career. Same with employers, which misuse these. These personality profiles are dynamic, not static; they can, and often enough do, change over the course of one’s life.

    Had a nice Christmas and new year, thank you, to you too all the best for 2017! 🙂


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