Predicting future jobs and careers is a little like writing about future technologies; the two are intrinsically linked like never before and looking into the crystal ball is not easy. Looking forward to 2030 is nigh on impossible. Ten years ago, things we now take for granted, like smart phones, Uber, iPad/Pod/Tunes, Netflix, Spotify and social media didn’t exist, and things like Blockbuster, film cameras and chequebooks did. I read some research in the New York Times recently that predicted for our Grade school (Primary school in the UK) children, 65% of the jobs they will do don’t currently exist. But whilst the actual roles may not be known, there are some things that I’m pretty confident of.
The rise (and limitations) of Artificial Intelligence
I do think we are about to see a significant increase in the abilities and range of activities that artificial intelligence (AI) will take away from human minds, and robots or automation from human hands. But there will still be significant opportunities for a Fully Charged career.
Digitalisation of everything
We’ve all heard the term Internet of Things (IoT), and probably a few dozen definitions, but one thing is for sure, we’re already into the age of connectivity where everything is smart. All these smart things have been created, programmed, built, integrated, monitored and repaired by smart people. AI may take some of these jobs, but I still see huge opportunities for challenging, well paying, and meaningful job opportunities across all areas of innovation, design, R&D, project management, sales, marketing and leadership. So that’s good news.
Nuts and bolts too
Whilst everything will be connected, and digitalised, things will still need building, from appliances, to vehicles of all descriptions, to commercial and residential buildings, and no end of clean and renewable technologies. Engineers of all shapes and sizes will be needed- Electrical, mechanical, computer engineers, civil engineers and technicians at all levels. We’ll need people to make and build stuff. Whilst much ‘blue-collar’ work will become robot work, humans will be far from redundant.
What about now
Well, that was a view of the future, but what about now. There are careers in cleantech across all disciplines; leadership, management, finance, operations, sales, marketing, IT (of course), communications and administration. If you want to find a meaningful, challenging career in the clean energy sector, the need is growing, and the current talent pool is small.
At Fully Charged Live in 2018 I was asked to speak about transitioning into a cleantech or a clean energy career. It’s a question I get asked often from people at all levels and from all disciplines, and whilst I find it hard to help in my day job, I find it hugely encouraging, and indeed essential. If we are to fight the threats of climate change, air and plastic pollution, and of course we must, we need an army of committed and skilled individuals to do so.
Start with what you know and love, then learn more
What are you most passionate about, and what are your key skills. It can be a challenge to find a career in the cleantech sector for a number of reasons. Not least, the industry is moving so quickly, and many companies are start-ups or scale-ups, and find it difficult to accommodate new team members that will take a while to bring up to speed. Things are moving so fast, and resources are stretched. The aim is to make life easier for you, and your future employer. The fact you are reading this Almanac, and probably a Fully Charged subscriber shows you have an interest, if not a passion, for the clean energy or clean mobility sector. A great place to start. Find the sector or technology that excites you most, and dive in. Learn as much as you can. Watching Fully Charged is awesome, but you need more. Read the trade publications, all of which will be online and mostly free. Attend trade shows and events if you can. Take online courses, again many of which are free. Listen to Podcasts, read company websites. Reach out to those in the industry, in companies you admire, offer them coffee and cake for some of their time. From my experience the sector runs on coffee. The cake thing might just be me! Prepare for the meeting, and ask about their tech, their company, their job, how they got where they are. Learn, learn, learn.
A time for introspection
Looking into the metaphorical mirror, ask yourself some tough questions, and give yourself honest answers. Just what is it that you are great at? What value can you bring to a busy, shiny, growing cleantech company? Think of the skills you have, the achievements you’ve had, the shiny stars you’ve won. Sadly, we don’t often get stickers and house points at work like we did at school, or the dentist, but what have you done in your career where you earned one? Whilst introspection is vital, it’s also important to talk to others that know you, at home, and especially at work. On the one hand you need validation, do they agree with your thinking? Sadly though, from experience, many people don’t give themselves credit for what they have done, or what they are great at, and a current or former work colleague or boss might just be able to shed some light on that for you.
Connect the dots
Now you know what you love, and you’ve learned as much as you can about it. You’ve crystallised what you are great at, and why that skill or attribute is so useful, and valuable. Now you are equipped to approach the job market with the best possible chance of finding the amazing career you want and deserve. You are ready to apply for jobs, and write a great cover letter, explaining the above. You can write directly to companies that interest you. You can contact recruitment companies, be selective to those who specialise in your chosen sector or discipline. You can always tap up those people you previously bribed with coffee and cake to see if their company has openings. Be proactive, be positive, be committed. Like anything worth having you may have to work at it and be persistent. But you’re now well equipped to join the fun, to join the cleantech revolution. Good Luck.