As the growing tech industry becomes a bigger part of B.C.’s economy, it also becomes a more desired destination for the incoming workforce.
The next generation is already learning the skills today to work with the technology of tomorrow, but what will be the hottest future jobs in tech, and how will the industry continue to transform?
LISTEN: Jon McComb takes a look at the future of work in the tech sector
We hear it all the time: B.C.’s tech sector is booming!
Students are learning to code at an earlier age, and entrepreneurs are making Vancouver home to their start-up projects.
But that’s now. What will it look like to work in technology in this province ten years from now?
Elicia Maine is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at SFU and sees current gaps in the workforce that need to be filled.
“Although we’ve been exceptionally good in technology ventures, and by that I mean anything in the information technology sector, we have not yet reached our potential in other STEM areas. So, we haven’t reached them in science ventures, we haven’t reached it in the biomedical space, or we have a long way that we can go in the cleantech space.”
That last element could become the next area of the industry to advance and expand for the next generation of workers, so it’s worth asking: what exactly is cleantech?
“Cleantech spans all the way from software and digital plays that are meant to help homes be more efficient for example, or utilities be more efficient, through to the actual science-based ventures that are developing new methods of energy generation, energy storage and water treatment technology.”
In terms of who will be making up the workforce, Maine says she hopes to see a change there too.
“There are a lot less women than men in computer science programs, in universities, as well as in jobs that are to do with programming,” Maine says.
But she says she hopes to see a change in that area growing out of the province’s new coding in schools policy.
“You know, that’s going to change the perception of who does those jobs, and that’s a good thing. But when you get to some other university departments and then onto the jobs that stem from those, in areas to do with cleantech, civil engineering, environmental engineering, chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, there are a lot of women in those programs.”
She says as B.C. develops more jobs in the cleantech and biomedical space, the trend looks to be for more opportunities for women as well as men in those high paying jobs.
Judy Hamilton is the founder and CEO of TerraTap Technolgies, and she envisions the typical office or workplace transforming in the next decade to look a lot more like a science fiction story.
“Gone are the computer screens, you know, we will walk into any [Isaac] Asimov novel you’ve ever read where we’re just dealing with everything in a mixed reality world,” Hamilton says.
Hamilton says the way we interact with the workspace could soon look more like science fiction than anything (Below: Minority Report 2002)
“So, the workplace will look very different. We won’t need all of the physical requirements that we have right now. But, at the same time, I also think that there’s going to be less requirement for you to walk into an office, we’re already seeing this and I imagine ten years from now, I run a virtual team already, I think that that will just absolutely become commonplace.”
Hamilton says for many, working with a team of people scattered around the globe already can be done almost seamlessly. She says to progress to a point where colleagues almost feel as if they’re right beside each other isn’t too far off.
“That will be the next level where right now we feel separated, I think that the ability that technology is going to bring to us is [to] actually take all of us in a very distributive world and make us feel like we’re actually sitting together and working together.”
As for what skills will be the most valuable to future employers, Hamilton says there’s one key area to get into as early as possible.
“Definitely artificial intelligence, I think if anyone wants to pick something that they should look at in the future, I think that’s where the future lies. Working in the areas of robotics, sensor technology, all of this I think is really going to become the areas of demand in the future. So if I was talking to myself 20 years ago, I would be telling myself to go into those fields.”