‘With change comes opportunity’: Entrepreneurs join OU to predict the top jobs of the future

Aug 05, 2021

BUSINESS, sustainability and digital entrepreneurs have backed a new campaign that highlights the skills and jobs predicted to be of vital importance to the growth of the UK economy.

Centring around the nationwide skills gap in management, business, computing and IT and against a backdrop of the climate crisis and sustainability, The Open University has enlisted the support of some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs including former British Lions captain Sam Warburton, Artificial Intelligence specialist Priya Lakhani, supermodel and sustainability campaigner Eunice Olumide and Joe Moruzzi, founder of cheesecake retailer Pleescakes. 

Participating in an engaging panel discussion, the entrepreneurs whittled down a long list of the predicted hottest jobs of the future and shared their views on where the greatest demand will lie, in order to inspire those looking to upskill or change career.

Top jobs long-list for the future that people can upskill in now are:

  • Renewables Engineer
  • Machine Learning Expert
  • Cyber Security Penetration Tester
  • Blockchain Expert
  • AI Developer
  • Sustainability Officer
  • AI Analytics Engineer
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Protection Officer
  • Digital Content Strategist

From the list, the top five future jobs that The Open University’s panel of entrepreneurs believe will have the greatest need in plugging the skills gap are:

  1. Sustainability Officer
  2. AI Developer
  3. Digital Content Strategist
  4. Cyber Security Penetration Expert
  5. Renewables Engineer

Sam Warburton, who founded a digital education business afte retiring from rugby union, said: “We need people who can analyse data and create content to reach a much wider audience than we would have done so organically. Digital content strategist and data analysts are invaluable and help businesses reach wider audiences.”

Ms Lakhani, founder and chief executive of  AI education technology company CENTURY, believes the key to adapting to future demand is being prepared to learn in an agile way.

Priya Lakhani

“AI development and machine learning encompasses cyber security and these roles will help maintain Britain as No.3 in the world before USA and China. UK entrepreneurs are begging you to upskill in these areas so if you have any of those skills, go for it.”

Simon Tindall, head of skills and innovation at The Open University, said: “What we have learned in the last year more than ever is that with change can come opportunity. Amidst the uncertainty of the current UK workforce and barriers to upskilling, we are keen to highlight through this campaign that there are many ways to pursue new and exciting paths that range from free short courses to degree level qualifications. 

“The jobs of the near future start today and it is easier to make the change than you think with flexible learning packages that can rapidly provide not just the skills you need but also instil confidence to peruse your goals. It has never been easier to shape the future of the UK’s economy and find your purpose in the next generation of in-demand jobs.”

The Open University had more course enrolments to its OpenLearn platform since the start of the pandemic – 3.1 million enrolments – than it had in total for the 14 years previously. OUN research shows that 36% of UK adults are thinking of changing jobs or career in the next 12-18 months, rising to almost 58% for the under-30s.

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