Find the careers of the future offering the best prospects

Navigating the world of careers and deciding what career might both suit you best and offer the best prospects can be bewildering acknowledges Sir Charlie Maynard, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership.

So a guide that helps young people identify the best jobs and to map careers of the future is certainly welcome.

The new report, Careers of the Future, published in December 2014 by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), lists careers that labour market analysts believe offer some of the best opportunities for tomorrow’s job seekers. The jobs have been analysed according to pay, business need and predicted job opportunities to produce a shortlist across ten sectors.

Sir Charlie, who is also chair of UKCES, writes the forward to the new report which introduces 40 jobs across both new and emerging industries that offer good prospects for those entering the workforce tomorrow.

As the government’s skills minister Nick Boles said: ‘This insight into the jobs of the future will be an important tool in helping young people make more informed decisions about their career.’

Careers of the future that offer the best prospects

The report shows how IT and other current trends are opening up new jobs or stabilising traditional ones. For example, mechanical engineering is key to the UK economy, and there is plenty of opportunity in this area due to demands for better forms of green energy and zero emission engines. Jobs are being created due to growing interest in areas such mechatronics – a design process that combines mechanical, electronic and other engineering disciplines, with applications in fields such as robotics. With the UK’s commitment to ensure British engineers remain at the forefront of design, jobs such as mechanical engineering is set as a job of the future. Similarly, trends that are driving reforms in education are opening up new opportunities for secondary school teachers and nursery teachers.

In the post recession business market consumer confidence is up, spending is up and the emphasis is on growth. The report emphasises that ‘strong job growth is expected’ when it comes to roles in sales and business with a ‘wealth of opportunities, with lucrative rewards on offer to the best performers’. Sales and business development spans all sectors, from IT to manufacturing, and automotive to construction, and is one of the biggest occupations in employment terms.

Careers of the future in business and finance include

  • Sales accounts and business development managers
  • Business and financial project managers
  • Finance and investment analysts and advisers
  • Chartered and certified accountants
  • Management consultants and business analysts

What’s also interesting about the report is that it identifies traditional roles like farmer and train driver as jobs of the future offering good prospects. The report says technology is changing such roles, moving them a world away from what they once were.

Missing: The central role of IT in all careers

The report points to information technology as the driving force behind the changes in traditional jobs and the creation of new jobs. It does not highlight the fact the IT are now needed in every sector, including that of train driver or farmer. Digital technology is playing an increasing role in everything we do from purchasing stock to marketing and so the possession of digital skills is a must in every sector of employment.

Sir Charlie says it is important that those at the start of their career have accurate information about what a job entails and the skills needed to do it. The guide provides a starting point for anyone looking for more information on what careers of tomorrow may have in store and so will be useful when it comes to planning your university exit strategy.

View a copy of the report here: Careers of the Future

Here are 12 careers highlighted from a range of sectors featured in the report, all offering good prospects to tomorrow’s job seekers:

  • Care workers
  • Construction project managers
  • Electricians
  • Farmers
  • IT business analysts
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Nurses
  • Police officers
  • Programmers and software developers
  • Sales account managers and business development managers
  • Secondary school teachers
  • Train and tram drivers

The one thing ambitious graduates do while at university

As a graduate with the prospect of graduating £45k in debt you cannot afford a lackadaisical attitude to preparing yourself to find a good job. If you are an ambitious graduate there is one important thing you must do while still at university. Prepare.

The reason you are at university is to invest in your future and increase your career prospects. But with the high level of debt at the start of your adult working life you cannot afford to be among the 35% of graduates who never find graduate level employment paying a salary sufficient to clear their student loans.

Four in ten graduates in the recent Which? survey said that their earnings were below what they expected, and 47% said that university had not opened the door to jobs in the way that they were expecting.

Even after taking into consideration local and national market trends and students’ abilities and motivations for work, research suggests that a significant minority of graduates aren’t faring well when to comes to employment. A quarter are not in professional jobs six months post-graduation. Graduates who find themselves in such a position will be paying off their loans for many years to come.

Ambitious graduates prepare early

With competition increased many graduates now feel that one degree isn’t enough and so go on to study for a postgraduate qualification in order to increase their prospects. There is nothing wrong with this but it obviously increases the amount of debt owed.

The key point here is: What are you expecting? Are you ambitious enough to get it? Do you have a plan?

If you are at university then you are among 43% of the UK’s young people who go to an institution that still operates in some respects as it did 50 years ago when just 5% of young people went to university. That means that today’s graduates are not getting out of their university experience the same level of security or benefits their parents and grandparents enjoyed.

An ambitious graduate does not leave preparation for work up to the university or until after graduation.

Ambitious graduates see themselves as co-producers

You must understand the nature of the product you are receiving. A great university outcome is not one that students can passively acquire without actually participating in a partnership where the university provides the lectures etc. and the student actively studies them. You are co-producers of your university outcome.

One of the most important measures by which students measure the quality of their university experience is how much help they receive to prepare themselves to find work and actual employment outcomes.

The figures released by Which? are concerning in this area: when it comes to help to find a job at university, 43% of students say they attended a careers fair, 43% career talks and 30% work preparation sessions. Despite figures showing that students who study a sandwich placement being paid 8% higher salaries six months after graduating only one in 10 do a sandwich course, and 42% a work placement or internship.

Ambitious graduates develop employability skills

A quarter (23%) of graduates in the survey said they felt their university had not helped them to develop all the skills they needed for employment. A fifth (20%) said they weren’t satisfied that their university had helped them to develop communication skills, and a similar percentage (21%) said this about teamwork skills.

With eight out of 10 employers citing employability skills as among the top three most important considerations when deciding which graduates to employ, acquiring, developing and articulating these skills is paramount, whether the university helps you with them or not.

There have been many improvements for students over the years, especially since the 2011 market reforms. The recent Which? report points out that students benefit from greater clarity on how to access consumer rights legislation and access to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. There are now over 600 bodies representing students’ interests and there has been an increase in the use of Student Charters to set out student rights.

However, there are still many other ways in which universities lag behind our time, especially when it comes to what we might call delivery of customer satisfaction on outcomes.

It remains to be said that as an undergraduate it is within your best interests to do all you can to give yourself the best chance of getting the kind of graduate employment you desire. That is the only way to ensure you are in the best position to quickly pay off the £45k that awaits you upon graduation.

 Act now and get help if you need it.