How Worrying About Preparing Students For Jobs that Don’t Exist Yet is Wrong

[Stepping away from my reflections for a discussion]

I see comments in educational circles all the time that say “we need to prepare kids for jobs that don’t yet exist” or “50% of jobs that will be available to our student’s done exist yet”. I argue that this is not only wrong in and of itself, but puts focus on the wrong concerns.

My younger brother is an phone app developer, a job that is often on lists of jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago. He wanted to be a video game tester growing up, out of a desire to play video games all the time. That desire led him into computer programming which led him into his current field. And, while it may be true that exact job of phone app developer didn’t exist, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t prepared for it. Skills transfer. Even if you’ve never programmed a phone app before, if you have a basis in computer programming you can transition into doing that. That particular job didn’t exist, but the skills did.

Looking at articles from Forbes and The Guardian here is a list of 6 jobs that they claim didn’t exist before and the reasons why they are nothing new.

Market Research Data Miner – This job is all about statistics and looking at data. The applications and specific data sources may be new, but the skills aren’t.

Social Media Manager – This all just a public relations job wrapped up in a new bow. A job that has existed since brand appeal mattered and heavily involved in skills of communication and creativity.

Cloud Computing Services – You could list countless other programming jobs here. Like developing apps for smart phones, these all use programming knowledge and creativity in its application and apply it new ways.

Sustainability Expert – Since we have had environmental law, this has been an important thing. Maybe there is more of a desire for the appearance of environmental sustainability, but the area of study has existed for a long time.

User Experience Designer – This is all about psychology, design, and sometimes programming – fields of study that are maybe are being connected in new interesting ways, but it is just building off skills of creativity and collaboration that have existed for a long time.

Offshore Wind Farm Engineers – While there is an increasing demand for sustainable energy, wind turbines are not new. There is growing demand for offshore wind turbines, but this is all mechanical engineering and applied sciences.

I would challenge anyone to suggest a job that exist today that isn’t just built off of skills and concepts that existed before. These are not new jobs that have appeared out of the blue, they are jobs that have evolved from those that existed before.

Instead of worrying about what jobs are to come, we should focus on giving our students skills communicating, collaborating, creating, and thinking critically that apply to all evolving fields of employment. We should focus on student inquiry and encourage student passions because those things will help them decide their futures. Lets not worry about problems that don’t truly exist.



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