While we focus on our careers in the present, sometimes we miss the bigger picture - the future. This is especially for those looking at building a STEM career. Knowing what skills are likely to be in demand as you progress through your career can make a big difference. Gaining those skills today, that will be in-demand tomorrow will give a head start in the employment market. Every advantage makes a difference, even the smallest ones and especially those skills that employers are and will be looking for.
So, here are eight essential technologies that we are absolutely certain that will be sought after for STEM careers in the near future:
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
We start with AI, because it is integral to so many products and services that are popular now but will be an core aspect of life in the future. Chatbots, think Siri, Alexa or Google Home, are already being used as virtual assistants in homes and businesses, taking on the role of customer service for all kinds of industries. They rely on AI, and as they gain in popularity, developers with experience in AI are sure to be in demand.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Not just for games, virtual reality has a broad range of uses including in media and other scientific applications. The most recent development is the use of VR is for online shopping - VR shops are taking the customers by storm. Skills in VR engineering or development on the software side will be in demand as big players are investing heavily in the technology. Microsoft has pledged to include VR integration into its Windows operating system, while Facebook directly owns one of the major VR headset manufacturers, and it is that kind of support than ensures VR has a place in our future.
Self-driving car technology is here already, though in a small way, it is certain that today’s versions are not the mainstream market just yet, the trend is only just building. Likewise, with other types of robots, where we are seeing significant progress, the best technology is mainly found in factories and other production solutions. Robotics are expected to be part of almost every aspect of everyday life in the near future. From the receptionist or greeter at your bank to the mechanic fitting a new tyre to your car, they could all be robots very soon.
The demand for this ‘robot revolution’ is high, driven by business, and the skills to make it happen are set to be some of the most sought after by industries of all kinds.
While Virtual Reality is the technology that we are perhaps more familiar with today, augmented reality, that combines computer generated imagery with the real world, is definitely where the future is heading. Imagine looking for a place to have coffee when you are out, and as your phone camera views each one, reviews pop up in real time, or arrows appear on the camera image to lead you to your destination.
While Blockchain, the underlying technology that powers cryptocurrencies, is often tied to Bitcoin, the reality is that it has endless uses as a secure data exchange. From banking and insurance to the legitimacy of paintings, Blockchain is set to revolutionise industries across the world. Developers and engineers who understand Blockchain, and those who can innovate its use, will be in high demand in the near future.
There has been a revolution in 3D printing already, with small printers now being practical and affordable for home users, however it is in commercial applications where innovation is moving at an incredible pace. Being able to print components on demand transforms construction and other industries, and it covers a broad range of skills. From chemical and material engineers, software developers, print technicians and medical professionals, there are a variety of skills that are certain to be in high demand in the future.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Small connected devices that make up the Internet of Things, or IoT, have been on the fringe of a technology breakthrough for a while. For most of us, this may be the idea of a refrigerator that knows when you are running out of something, or a smart doorbell that turns on a camera when activated. However, the IoT has much broader and important applications, including smart cities, where such devices will be used to monitor traffic flows, temperatures and air quality and in turn, the data can be used to maintain city operations, including adjusting traffic lights and other routing to maximise travel efficiencies.
Developing new sensor equipment and other IoT devices for the smart city initiative, and the software that powers it all, are skills that will continue to grow into the future.
Amazon recently showed their new drone concept that can deliver orders direct to homes without any human intervention, much faster than current delivery systems. That is just one company and one area where drones are set to transform how we live and work. Farmers are increasingly using drones to monitor water levels and soil acidity without having to physically drive all over the farm to take samples. As we move to a centralised shopping experience for so many things, and drone sensor packages become ever more impressive, drone technology will continue to change how we do many tasks.
From software development to engineering solutions, drone development will continue to be sought after and be a significant and growing aspect of the technology industry.