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[Opinion] Future Jobs

Posted April. 12, 2005 23:33,   


It is easy to be wrong in predicting the future. Demographers in the 1960s estimated that the world population would amount to 25 billion by the middle of the 21 century. It was a fearful prediction that a “human bomb,” comparable to natural disasters, would fall upon the earth. But as population growth rates slowed down, demographers began lowering their estimates. It fell to 15 billion, to 12 billion, to the current 9 billion. This is because they did not consider the fact that the age of women giving birth for the first time would increase.

Just as difficult as predicting the future is predicting what jobs will be popular in the future. The Work Information Center projects that jobs related to social welfare, legal services, and informatization will be popular in Korea in five years. The Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training picked jobs in finance, consulting, and design as the most promising in the 21st Century. An interesting point is that popular majors in universities are not in accordance with the promising fields. Majors that have high employment rates, such as medicine, pharmacy and education, are preferred because of stability. But there is no guarantee that those choices will be viewed as wise in the next 10 or 20 years.

Though the future of jobs is unpredictable, there are major trends. With the emergence of the “new nomadic society,” more people will cross national borders in search of jobs. English skills will become a must. With increased life expectancy, huge changes will occur in vocational directions and life plans. Some are cautiously talking of “double-cropping” in life. This means that if you work at a job for 20 years after graduating university, your knowledge will be exhausted, so more people will enter university again and study a new field to find a job again.

Ancient Greeks visited the Delphi shrine when facing important tasks, asking for an oracle. They listed to the prophet and did as he bid them. It seems predicting the future was just as difficult then as it is now. The inscription on the wall of this shrine is, “Know thyself.” It is important to realize your strengths when selecting your vocation. The future is not fixed, but changes according to the challenges humans take.

Hong Chan-sik, Editorial writer, chansik@donga.com