A lot of people are talking about artificial intelligence and the negative impact that’s going to have on jobs – and it will on certain levels. Anything which is digital-based grunt work, like a lot of data analysis, is definitely going to go. But by 2026, AI won’t be strong enough to compete with humans.
People skills are going to be increasingly important for the service and leisure industries, call centres, care-giving, hospitality, relationship management and wellbeing – basically, anything where you need good emotional intelligence and there needs to be a human face. Technically, AI can do some of these things. But increasingly, we are seeing that people want a human relationship and to talk to other human beings. It’s not an area as yet where AI can beat us.
Leisure and hospitality are definitely growth areas. We are spending more and more time going on holiday, going to sports events, going to conferences. And there is always room for performance skills too. No matter what society you’re in, whether you’re an athlete, a singer or whatever, if you have a skill good enough where people will pay to see you do it, that’s going to continue to be true in 2026. People are spending more time and money watching other people do things well.
We are about to see the biggest shift in the workplace in 200 years.
The ability to cook well for example is increasingly something people will pay you to do. There are more and more shows, more and more columns where if you’re skilled, you can get paid. The younger generation are all absolute foodies. In Korea, there’s a trend for social eating where people eat food live and talk about it online. Now Twitch [the social video platform for gamers] have launched a social eating channel, and they have more than 100m monthly unique users. If they are launching a social eating platform, then you know it’s going to be big.
Well being and relaxation – we’re spending more time and money on things that make us feel good. Anyone skilled at something that makes you feel healthier or happier will benefit. Employers are also starting to realise that a mentally and physically healthy employee is a more productive one and well being is increasingly seen as a necessary expense for employers.
We’re also about to see the biggest shift in the workplace in 200 years. Flexible working, more autonomous employees and intrapreneurs – who are people who consider themselves entrepreneurs but within a company – all of this is starting to come to a head. People are also outsourcing more, freelancing more. We’ve got two or three generations who simply don’t work in the traditional way. The way all of this is going means the traditional office workplace is about to see a huge revolution. As a result, freelancing is going to be good and there’s going to be a need for more people in HR.
Digital and mobile are still going to be huge in 2026 – the mobile phone is only going to grow in importance, so mobile technology is going to be even more enormous. There’s also the growth of the internet of things so there are going to be many more jobs in technology. I don’t think by 2026 AI is going to be self-creating enough. AI is not going to manufacture better AI. AI is very good at doing the same thing over and over very quickly, but it’s not very good at getting better.
We really are in a new, fourth Industrial Revolution.
Virtual and augmented reality are going to take longer than people think to grow, so by 2026 there will be a lot of need for people who are good at virtual reality technology. There’s also increasing demand for technology that has a human feel – technology that either augments the human or enables humans and machines to work together more efficiently.
Natural sciences too – the growing scarcity of resources, geology, alternative energy, food sciences, anything around maintaining and conserving our resources, whether it’s energy, food or nature All of those areas are growth areas.
Another big growth area is video games. Thirty-six million people streamed the world finals of game contest League of Legends last year. More and more people are admiring any form of sport now. Even the most niche sports are going to find a place.
This age of incredible change is going to continue or the next few decades – we really are in the fourth Industrial Revolution. Because of that, transferable skills are going to be vital. Skills like emotional intelligence, networking, decision-making, negotiation, innovation, the ability to deal with change, these things are going to be absolutely vital to survive, no matter what sector you’re in. Even if that sector is negated by AI in 2026, if you have some of those transferable skills, you should be fine.