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King warrior Written by special contributor

Business careers of the future are changing. In fact, 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist.

While the future can’t be predicted with 100 per cent certainty, some trends indicate the kinds of skills that will be needed to thrive in an ever-evolving, high-tech-driven world. So, let’s look at some of the challenges and opportunities businesses face and how they’ll shape future careers.


Industry trends

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Innovation and uncertainty: change is the only constant

Think about how many new inventions you've grown up with: the internet, smartphones, human genome mapping, 3D printers, and more. The number of innovations happening at the same time is growing! These new technologies, ideas, and tools impact how 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. As a result, businesses will need to future-proof their organizations by hiring tech-savvy employees who can quickly adapt and pivot, are creative, and have the courage to capitalize on new tech and market trends. Jobs of the future will include new roles with titles like Master of Edge Computing or Transformation Consultant.

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Stakeholder capitalism: doing well by doing good

Stakeholder capitalism is a way of conducting business that aims to benefit not just shareholders, but also employees, customers, and the community at large.

To “do well by doing good,” companies (and investors) work to improve environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in business practices.

To “do well by doing good,” companies (and investors) work to improve environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in business practices. Studies have shown that businesses with this goal have 47 per cent more revenue over a 15-year period than those focused solely on the next quarter’s bottom line. This approach to business is creating positions like ESG reporting analyst and sustainability analyst — in fact, there are whole consulting firms dedicated to helping companies and investors evaluate and improve ESG. In finance, ESG analysts help investors make investments that make a difference.


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Green futures: the shift to sustainability

If you care about the environment, now is the best time to start a career that combines business and sustainability. The global economy is greening. New governmental regulations, technological developments, and market potential have already begun to change the ways business is done, and that trend is predicted to grow. At the same time, companies already have unmet demand for candidates with an understanding of the market’s shift towards sustainability.

The energy sector is transforming beyond expectations, and will push innovations in other sectors such as transportation (for example, the growing market for electric vehicles) and construction (new building materials and processes). Investors are reducing their carbon footprint. The circular economy — with its emphasis on repair, reuse, and recycling — is expected to expand the service industry (repair) as well as dramatically grow the materials reclamation market, such as reclaimed steel (recycle); used clothing retailers are projected to become a major market force (reuse).

Skills for careers of the future

Canada’s largest employers value transferable skills — like teamwork — over technical knowledge. Negotiation skills, critical thinking, and problem solving will be increasingly important in a workforce that is multi-disciplinary and requires agility.

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Human skills will become critical

As businesses work with more machines and more technology, human skills are predicted to become even more important in delivering experiences to customers, coworkers, and employees. For instance, empathy and clear communication skills will be needed in an increasingly machine-driven world. The combination of human skills and technical understanding will create jobs we’ve never heard of before, like Head of Machine Personality Design or Design Strategist.

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Adaptability and active learning

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 figure out how to capitalize on new tech or market trends. People who can help firms pivot and take new directions.


Group using VR goggles.

Everyone will be a bit technical

Today, technology is in every workplace. When you join the labour market, you’ll need to come equipped with a broad suite of technical and soft skills to succeed. Careers of the future will include anything from developing 3D maps with AI to marketing virtual reality systems or developing quantum technology to monitor postoperative patients. 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 will continue to be demand 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 shape the way we deploy AI and to help AI-driven ideas get to market.


Blockchain is a cybersecure accounting ledger where every stage of the transaction is securely verified. While still an emerging technology, it has the potential to disrupt industries as diverse as finance, entertainment, and energy. Some expect it to underpin Web3. 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 health care 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 even 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, launch a digital networking platform, or co-found a digital media production company. Waterloo’s unique innovation ecosystem can help you every step of the way – and at Waterloo, our students own what they invent.

Programs of study: choose your own adventure

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 of interest. The business skills you learn can be used in any industry.

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.

Here are some degrees to explore, listed with a handful of possible job titles for graduates. Worth noting: for some of these careers, a range of different business-related degrees could be your first step. Some may require additional training. If that’s part of your plan, Waterloo’s Centre for Career Development has dedicated advisors who support students all the way through the graduate program application process. The best degree to pursue is the one that excites you the most!

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