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Degrees with the best career prospects: what will the most in-demand jobs be in future?

16/03/2021 | Santander Universidades

In recent years, society has become aware of the looming global challenges that will have a profound impact on the field of employment, revolutionising the labour market and changing the degrees with the best career prospects. In this article, we will therefore be analysing the transformation of the labour market in recent years, as well as the degrees which  offer the best career prospects for the future.

The transformation of the labour market

The increase in automation anticipates, on the one hand, the disappearance of certain jobs: on average, 14% of jobs in countries within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are at risk of being replaced by machines, while 32% will undergo a radical transformation due to technological advances, according to The Future of Work report published by said organisation in 2019. 

However, rapid technological development will also create completely new jobs, although workers will have to adapt to this VUCA environment (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) and gain the skills that give them access to these new jobs.

In this context, training is essential if we want to turn these challenges into opportunities. Possibilities to develop new skills, such as those offered by the various Banco Santander Scholarships, are today an essential tool to enhance the employability of professionals in the long-term.

These days, the corporate world is concerned about the so-called skills gap: there is a lack of workers with training and experience in certain key areas, many of them related to STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). According to the 2020 Manpower study Closing the Skills Gap, some 54% of jobs advertised around the globe remained unfilled because candidates with the necessary skills could not be found. 

Degrees with the best career prospects

Everything points to technology-related degrees being those with the best career prospects in the future. However, the social role of professions will also be positively appraised. In this sense, Adobe's CMO blog on digital transformation explains that 'the future of work (...) will be automated, diverse and inclusive, with a newfound value on cognitive and emotional skills'.  

Specifically, these will be the degrees with the best career prospects:

1. Health science: the answer to the population problem

     

The progressive ageing of the population requires professionals capable of improving people's quality of life. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, uptake within the field of healthcare is expected to grow some 14% over the next decade, a pace that outstrips any other field. 

Moreover, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that by the year 2035, there will be a global shortage of almost 13 million healthcare professionals. 

Meanwhile, the US Bureau of Labour and Statistics highlights the fact that occupational therapy jobs will grow 16% by 2029, compared to 4% average growth in all other fields. 

2. Environmental sciences: solutions for the climate crisis

The challenges posed by climate change go hand in hand with new problems that require investigators and professionals who can come up with viable solutions. 

The degrees with the best career prospects in this field will be those focussed on finding alternatives to the current production model, such as the decarbonisation of the energy model. In a world with a growing population and limited resources, innovation in food production will also be highly prized.

According to Unity College, the following professions in the field of environmental sciences will be in the spotlight:

  • Specialists in renewable energy management. This industry could employ more than 40 million people by 2080, according to the report Measuring the socio-economics of transition: Focus on jobs, by the International Renewable energy Agency (IRENA). 
  • Specialists in the environmental rehabilitation of damaged ecosystems. 
  • Environmental coordinators, such as specialists capable of designing sustainable projects for private and public companies. 
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3. Technology and humanities combined

The latest report on The Future of Jobs by the World Economic Forum analyses the emergence of new technology-related professions in the coming years.

Automation is a reality that is advancing in various directions, as are associated fields such as the application of algorithms related to machine learning and artificial intelligence

Some of the degrees with the best career prospects cited in the report are: 

  • Data analysts and data science professionas 
  • Software and application developers
  • E-commerce and social media experts 
  • Customer service and marketing
  • Process automation experts
  • Blockchain specialists
  • User experience designers and human-computer interaction (HCI)
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Preparing for the jobs of the future

That said, securing a place on a course with great career prospects requires a rethink of workers’ training, given that at present, according to the aforementioned OECD report, six out of every ten professionals lack the appropriate qualifications and skills for these jobs of the future. 

It is of concern that this gap between the demand for professionals and the reality of education will only be compounded in the coming years. According to the SHRM portal, 75% of human resources professionals have reported problems when it comes to recruiting staff with the necessary skills, and 52% say that this problem has got worse in the last two years. Meanwhile, the Vision 2030 study by the National Science Board predicts that by 2026, jobs in the field of science and technology will grow 13% compared to the 7% growth in the overall US workforce, but it similarly warns of the talent gap in these fields of knowledge.  

However, it's not only a question of having the technical skills provided by these university degrees with the best career prospects. Soft skills are also in the spotlight. According to the report  The Future of Work by McKinsey, by the year 2030 it is estimated that the demand for tech skills will have increased by 55%, while the need for social and emotional skills (such as leadership, management, etc.) will also grow by 24%, with an 8% growth in the need for highly cognitive skills (such as creativity or complex information processing). 

Many of the degrees with the best career prospects in the future will demand a considerable education commitment and a high degree of specialisation. To address this, universities, companies and entities such as Banco Santander are coming up with new training models that promote research and the quest for solutions to the challenges of the future. 

Through its scholarship programmes, Banco Santander is developing an ambitious training model with a clear social character that is notable for supporting students and researchers so that, thanks to training and research, they can deliver solutions in the form of innovative ideas and specific applications. Furthermore, this model gives particular importance to cultivating contact between students from different cultures

These experiences have already allowed thousands of students to share their knowledge and perspectives, broaden their horizons, and create solutions that are applicable on a global scale.