Business careers of the future are going to change. In fact, 65% of children entering primary school today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist.

While the future can’t be predicted with 100% certainty, there are some trends that indicate the kinds of skills that will be needed in the future. Let’s take a look at some of the opportunities facing business, and how they’ll shape careers of the future.


Industry trends

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Innovation and uncertainty

Think about how many new inventions that you’ve grown up with: the Internet, smartphones, mapping the human genome, 3D printers… and those are just a few. The number of innovations that are happening at the same time is growing! All of these new technologies, ideas, and tools impact the way people interact, companies compete, and industries operate.

375 million workers globally will need to learn new skills and change occupations by 2030.

It's estimated that 375 million workers globally will need to learn new skills and change occupations by 2030. Business will need to future-proof their organizations. They’ll have to hire people with the skills to work with new technologies and who can adapt as more new innovations come online.

Group in business suits.

Core skills will remain core

A study of Canada’s largest employers found that they value transferrable skills over technical knowledge. Skills like communication, critical thinking, and problem solving will be increasingly important in a workforce that is multi-disciplinary and requires agility.

Canada’s largest employers... value transferrable skills over technical knowledge.

The need for effective leadership skills, for instance, will not change, but CEOs of the future will also need to understand key trends and technology affecting industry and the world of work.


Skills for careers of the future

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Human skills will become critical

Businesses will work with more machines and more technology. Our human skills, however, are predicted to become more important in delivering human experiences to customers, coworkers, and employees.

Jobs combining human skills and technical understanding will create jobs we’ve never heard of.

For instance, empathy and negotiation skills are going to be needed in an increasingly machine-driven world. Jobs combining human skills and technical understanding will create jobs we’ve never heard of before, like Head of Machine Personality Design or Design Strategist.

Group discussion at a desk.

Adapting and adopting

The speed of change is increasing. Businesses will need leaders who can guide teams and companies through change. Core business acumen will be critical.

Employers will need people with creativity and courage... to capitalize on new tech or market trends.

Employers will need people with creativity and courage to figure out how to capitalize on new tech or market trends. People who can help firms pivot and take new directions. Jobs of the future will include new roles with titles like Master of Edge Computing or Transformation Consultant.


Group using VR goggles.

Everyone will be a bit technical

No industry, no career will be free of technology. A recent report noted that Canadian youth joining the labour market must come equipped with a broad suite of technical and soft skills to succeed. Careers of the future will include anything from developing brain implants to control smart devices to marketing virtual reality systems or working with quantum technology to revolutionize healthcare. Combining – and updating – technical know-how with subject matter expertise, and business skills will be necessary. Here are just some of the important drivers that will affect business and industry.

Big Data

The world is currently creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data from smartphones, transaction, sensors, etc. every single day. There is, and will continue to be a need for data analysts. The people who can work with the data, find insight within the data, and use it to make better-informed decisions.

Artificial Intelligence

AI includes automation, robotics, and cognitive technologies where machines learn to make independent decisions. The implementation of AI will create millions of jobs. Many of these will be technical positions, but core business skills and leadership will be needed to help AI-driven ideas get to market.


Blockchain is a cybersecure accounting ledger where every stage of the transaction is securely verified. It has the potential to disrupt industries as diverse as finance, entertainment, and energy. It will take imagination, leadership, and flexibility to capitalize on blockchain technology, or help integrate it into current business practices.

Small materials

Working at nano and quantum scale, innovators are creating new materials and new technology in everything from healthcare to green energy, and computing. These breakthroughs will create new market opportunities, and inventors will need to acquire or hire people with business savvy in order to go to market.


Go your own way through entrepreneurship

Working for a company can be rewarding. Working for yourself could be amazing. Entrepreneurs are essential to the economy. They are future-minded. They create competition, jobs, and opportunities. With the right idea, training, and financial support students can start a company while still in school. As an entrepreneur, your options are limitless. You can combine what you love with business skills to become a brewmaster, a self-published author, or co-founder of a digital media production company.

Programs of study

You can combine your passion for science, sustainability, arts, or health with education and skills that will help you find a career in business. Business study includes topics like sales, marketing, and accounting. Adding business courses to your degree can open doors to a wide variety of career options, and not just in your field interest. The business skills you learn can be used in any industry, as long as they’re the skill employers seek.

Waterloo works hard to make certain that the subjects you’re passionate about, whichever industry you find yourself in, will prepare you for what’s next. One of these programs could be your starting point.

What's next