This week for Throwback Thursday I’ll point you at an article over at Paleofuture. Back in 1988 a “newspaper” (remember those?) predicted the jobs that denizens of 2018 and 2019 would do. Thirty years is a long time in the future and it’s hard to make a lot of guesses.

Remember that in 1988 there was no internet, barely any cell phones, and a “portable” computer weighed in at just over a dozen pounds and had a little tube monitor in it. Don’t believe me?

I actually owned one of these monsters and lifted it around all the time.

What did they expect?

In order to read the original article you’ll have to go through a paywall, but  Paleofuture does a good job of summing it up. Here are some of the careers they thought would be in high demand:

  • Ocean hotel manager
  • Wellness consultant
  • Sports Law Specialist
  • Lunar Astronomer
  • Robot Trainer

OK some of those seem kind of silly. Things just didn’t go well for the ocean tourism industry I suppose, because I’ve never actually seen an ocean hotel. Have you?

Those out-there predictions were accompanied by some safer bets. By 2000, they said, women would be doing pretty much every job except Catholic priest. I guess what’s funny is realizing that thirty years ago that might have been considered a risky prediction. The article also cautions people to be “computer literate” because it will be a requirement in the future.

Computer literate?

Even the term sounds archaic. I mean, using an electronic device is just such a basic thing now. Many people in the workforce started using PCs when they were kids and have used a cell phone their entire adult lives. While this prediction was accurate on the face of it, I guess it’s just silly to think that here in 2019 there would be a person on the planet without at least a basic degree of familiarity with computers. Such a person wouldn’t just be at a disadvantage, they’d be unemployable.

What I think we’ll see in 30 years

I admit that I don’t have a really good handle on what the job market of 2049 will look like, but I’m not sold on the idea of “ocean hotel managers” being in great need. We’ll need home care workers for a rapidly aging population. I think that we will continue to see growth in handmade goods, because that will be one of the few areas where people will pay more for something. Look at Etsy today and multiply that by 1,000 — I think there will be a huge market for handmade goods of all types.

While I think jobs in retail and delivery will be long gone, replaced by automation, I think the job of “thought leader” will actually continue to grow. The internet has already removed our reliance on “knowing things” like simple facts but I think that those who can think through problems and present smart solutions will be in great demand.

Oh, and plumbers. You’ll lose your shirt betting against the need for plumbers. People will always need water and they will always need someone to fix the pipes. Home repair people of all types will always be in demand because there’s simply no getting around the fact the people have to live in functional homes.

One last “hail mary” prediction: I think by 2030 someone will come up with a way to address our changing climate in a meaningful way, but it will take a lot of effort. Being a “CO2 scrubber” or “Water quality specialst” will pay a lot, as will someone who can quickly and smartly prepare electronics for recycling.

What do you think?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.