Covid-19 and lockdowns forever changed the way the world will do business and accelerated the move of many companies towards conducting their business online, remotely, and by incorporating new systems and processes into their operations.
The developments of the past year also provided increased clarity about career paths of the future, and prospective students still undecided about their plans for next year, or people already in employment who want to set out on a new path, would do well to investigate and consider careers where qualified professionals are likely to remain in high demand in coming decades, an education expert says.
“Careers of the future will increasingly require people skilled and qualified in careers involving the cloud, internet of things, big data, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality,” says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider.
“These fields will undoubtedly continue expanding, and alongside their growth, will need to grow their workforce. So these are excellent options for young people and Matrics still uncertain about what they would like to do with their futures.
And because many existing jobs can be future-proofed by acquiring additional skills and knowledge, and adapting to move applications and systems to the cloud, those who already started on different career paths are also in a position to future-proof their careers with a little additional investment in their education,” she says.
Payne says some of the most popular fields of study next year include:
Mobile App Developer/Web developer
“These two can stand apart, but often go hand in hand in a combined career,” she says.
“Mobile app development is one of the fastest growing disciplines as more functionality move to mobile devices. Good news for prospective students is that there is currently a big skills gap in this area, so there are many opportunities in this field, and it is also a good fit for those interested in becoming entrepreneurs.”
On the web development side, Payne notes that the increase in social media advertising has increased the demand for web developers.
“Most companies these days invest in e-commerce solutions, while all companies regardless of size, or whether they are new or old, should have their own website. To make a success in these fields, professionals require responsive web design, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) skills.”
Those pursuing a career in app development will need to be well versed in user interface design and adaptation to different mobile operating systems and screen sizes, for instance smart phones, tablets and smart watches, notes Payne.
Software engineers & database administrators
“Both of these are existing careers, but are constantly evolving as a result of the need to adapt for operation in the cloud and on digital devices. Additionally, there is a massive and growing demand for improved security, with databases and application systems shielded from attack while being properly managed and networked,” she says.
Cyber security expert
“Further to the above, dedicated cyber security experts are some of the most in demand professionals,” says Payne.
“With hackers and bad faith actors growing in their number and their ability to sow havoc in public and private organisations across the globe, these professionals play a vital role in shielding their employers from attack. Their role is to secure websites, company data, and sensitive information in the cloud.”
They need to be able to anticipate and correct flaws and backdoors in access to an organisation’s sensitive data, understand how hackers work and how they access secure sites, and ensure multi-level authentication for sites with sensitive information, for instance in banking.
The role of network engineers is to integrate and connect computer systems and networks across various platforms such as mobile devices, the cloud and traditional systems.
“More than ever before, business is being conducted online, translating to increased job opportunities for network administrators and network managers who can help businesses securely use these technologies,” says Payne.
“If you enjoy mathematics, statistics and programming, and have an analytical brain, this is the career for you,” Payne says.
She explains that these professionals analyse and make decisions based on big data – usually massive amounts of data often obtained through people’s interaction on web pages – to customise their experience. The aim is to analyse and respond to client needs as well as source new clients.
3D printing farms – robotics – Augmented reality – AI – ML
All the fields above are at the cutting edge of current technology, and are set to grow exponentially in future, says Payne.
“These are very exciting emerging opportunities, and prospective students interested in these fields should ensure they speak to a student advisor at their higher education institution of choice to enquire about how their offering matches these career paths. It is also important to ensure that the institution can show strong industry-connection and evidence of work-integrated learning that seeks to solve real-life scenarios in these fields, as a theoretical foundation only will not be sufficient,” says Payne.