What to study for future jobs? I have met many people saying “I would like to study something but I don’t know what”. When taking such decision, looking at future job market trends is a wise activity to include in your research. Therefore, in this article we will cover some of the most promising subjects to study for future jobs in the UK.
We are “lucky” because we are living in an ever-changing world, where advancements in technology are reshaping the economy. As a consequence, the job market is evolving as well, offering a variety of new skilled jobs. If you are struggling to decide what to study, then you should definitely consider future job trends.
Before we start, there are a few things I want to highlight. You should never choose what to study solely based on future trends. I have mentioned this several times in previous posts, and trust me it is a huge mistake that people make, including me.
If you are not genuinely interested in a subject, then you should not waste your time and money into it. I am telling you this because I experienced something similar. I once enrolled into a high-level professional (expensive) IT course only because it was advertised as the job of the future.
It would had been a wise move, as jobs in IT boomed, if it wasn’t for the fact that I did not like IT and coding at all. I had literally no interest in it. Guess what? I ended up dropping out after one month and losing my money (non-refundable unfortunately). Even more than money, I wasted my time that I could have used to start my degree earlier.
What to study for future jobs in the UK
In this part I will go through the future job market trends in the UK. Rather than specific job titles, I will talk about the subjects and sectors in a broader way. Why? Because nowadays major job sectors are widely interconnected.
For example, a data expert could work across multiple industries, cover various positions; an engineer might decide to work in project management rather than the design of it; and I could continue with hundreds of more examples. Now that we are ready, let’s go through what to study for future jobs in the UK:
Information Technology (IT) and Computer Science (CS)
Starting from the one that almost caught me, advertised as the job of the future since decades. This sector will continue to rise and it will need thousands of skilled workers. The UK is, without surprise, a world leader of technology adoption. According to techUK, the UK’s IT sector has a growth rate of 2.5 times the rate of the entire economy! (source: techUK)
This growth will create thousands of new exciting job opportunities with very, very good salaries. IT experts can work across multiple industries (e.g. financial services, telecommunication, retail) and in both, public and private sector. Therefore, their chances of finding employment are remarkably high.
The economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic did not effect the IT sector at all. Instead, it has increased the need of it, consolidating the stability and reliability of this industry for the future. Everything we do nowadays relies on the efficiency of IT.
Although any area of IT can almost certainly guarantee a rewarding career and high earnings, there are few fields that are worth mentioning: cyber security, blockchain technology, automation & machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) & robotic, coding, system & software engineering, data science (I will touch on that separately).
Major employers include: Accenture, Amazon, Apple, IBM, Microsoft and Rockstar Games. Also, telecommunication companies such as BT Group, Vodafone, Sky, Virgin Media and many more, including the public sector.
Accounting & Finance
If you like numbers but you are not really keen to study maths, then you should definitely consider these subjects. Although they are often offered together, they are two separate subjects. Keeping it simple, accounting deals with the recording and reporting of a company’s assets and transactions.
On the other hand, finance deals with the planning and management of financial resources of an organisation. Despite the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit, the UK financial services industry remains an excellence. It is indeed one of the most developed worldwide. It attracts enormous capitals and investments from all over the world. This requires a lot of talented and skilled individuals to manage them.
The reason why Accounting & Finance are often offered together is because they follow the same principles, but from different perspectives. However, when progressing to more specific roles, they take their own separate paths. In accounting, it is quite common to progress to the chartered accountant status and auditing.
In finance, investment management, financial analysis, insurance and banking are usually the areas people move into. I don’t think I need to mention that these professionals can earn salaries of 6 figures and beyond. However, it is a hard job and you will need to put effort into it.
Major employers include Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, The Goldman Sachs Group, Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY),Lloyds Banking Group, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Allianz and Standard Life. (just to name a few!)
I wrote a review on accounting and finance degrees, if that interests you, find it here: “Is an Accounting and Finance degree worth it in the UK?”
Engineering subjects are always a good choice to study for future jobs; those include mechanical, civil, aerospace, naval and so on. However, I want to touch on one in particular. Major economies worldwide are finally acting against climate change and are promoting environmental sustainability. A key factor in this process is “decarbonisation”, which basically means to remove/reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) from countries’ economies.
Again, the UK set itself to be a world leader with its ambitious Net Zero target by 2050. As this transition pushes the economy away from fossil fuels, it brings it closer to electricity. The demand for electrical power will soar in the next decades. This will create thousands of job opportunities in the UK.
All major industries will convert to clean renewable energy, from transportation (e.g. electrical vehicles EVs) to industrial production (e.g. re-cycling plants). Professional electrical engineers possess high skills and can earn very high salaries. Moreover, they can progress even further by obtaining the chartered status.
Further, the stability of this industry for the future does not only come from decarbonisation, but also from the UK Government. I have also touched on this sector as an opportunity post Brexit in another article, you can find it here if interested “Why Brexit is an opportunity to find a better job”.
Major employers include Tesla, Boeing, General Electric, Network Rail, Siemens and hundreds more. Obviously, electrical engineers can also easily find employment with the the Big Six UK companies: British Gas, EDF Energy, E. ON UK, Npower, Scottish Power, and SSE.
As I mentioned in the IT paragraph, I will cover this area on its own, although you can also consider it part of the IT industry. The reason why I’m doing this is quite simple, the power of “big data” has grown so much in the last decade that it created an enormous sector on its own.
Becoming a data scientist is nowadays, and for the future, a guarantee of highly remunerative jobs. In the UK, the demand for data skills is “explosive” according to The Royal Society. In their report they highlight a 231% increase in demand for data scientists in only 5 years, basically it tripled. (source: The Royal Society).
The need for data skills is going to be so significant that the report also suggests a change in the UK education system. They claim this will help accommodate this lack of skills over the long term. Data scientists can easily fit in many roles in both, private and public sector. They can undertake a variety of tasks, from regulatory to analysis.
As for many IT roles, an advantage of this industry is the flexibility of working from anywhere remotely. Moreover, these professionals can also decide to work on a permanent basis for a company, or as self-employed working on multiple contracts. If you think that working with data is a good fit for you, then you should definitely consider this subject. In that case it is the perfect answer to what to study for future jobs in the UK.
Major employers include all major companies in the private sector, from retail to finance and so on. Moreover, the public sector also needs data scientists for a range of key activities such as: academic research, scientific research, the health sector, policies implementation etc.
International Business & Marketing
Business studies are becoming more and more popular nowadays. On the one hand this means a saturated job market with a fierce competition. On the other hand it means high employment opportunities. What really drives the need for international business & marketing experts is the capitalistic society.
Companies are constantly competing with each other to increase their revenues. In order to do so, firms need to expand their operations internationally to sell more products & services. Unsurprisingly, the UK is home to many businesses that operate worldwide. The Government spends billions in Research & Development (R&D) and provides subsidies for innovative start-ups.
This creates a perfect market environment in the UK for companies to grow and expand their operations. Therefore, they increasingly need highly skilled business experts who understand international markets. People that can successfully manage in multicultural environments.
When carrying out marketing activities, experts conduct market research and study the customer behaviour of specific targets. This allows them to design target-tailored marketing campaigns to best market their products & services. These two subjects well complement with each other and you can often study them as a combined course or Degree.
Major employers in this case include mainly private sector companies, multinationals in particular as they operate in international markets. However, business & marketing experts can also find employment in small/medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
On top of that, also the public sector needs marketing experts for Government’s campaigns. For future trends, digital marketing is certainly a specialisation you should consider. Moreover, speaking more languages is another huge plus for these type of roles.
Again, I wrote an more in-depth review of these degrees in another post, you can find it here: “Is a Business Management Degree worth it in the UK?”; or also “Is a Marketing Degree worth it in the UK?”.
The Health Sector
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK health sector has always been in need of skilled workers. A clear sign of that is the number of foreign healthcare professionals coming every year, and the need for more. The pandemic has inevitably brought extra exposure on this lack of workers to the public opinion.
As a response, the UK government has prepared several incentive structures, including financials, for people willing to study for a career in this industry. What I would say straight away though is that you must have a genuine passion for such sector and everything it involves. For example, stressful and emotionally challenging situations, pressure and long working hours.
As opposed to the subjects above, where you can identify more specific roles, the healthcare industry can take many different routes. It requires completely different qualifications and trainings. What route to take and study depends entirely on your interests.
Each route has its own requirements, years of study, practical experience and career paths; from medicine to dentistry, nursing, physiotherapy, healthcare science, neuroscience, psychology, nutrition and many more.
If there is one thing you can be sure of, it’s that this industry can give you many benefits. From career progression and satisfaction to financial rewards. There is no need to mention that the demand for healthcare professionals is so high that it pretty much guarantees employment.
The major employer in this case is the NHS, which is the largest employer in the UK with approximately 1.5 million workers. It is also fifth largest in the world. However, the UK private healthcare sector is also an excellent option. It can lead to even higher salaries and international work locations.
Few considerations on future jobs in the UK
The sectors and subjects above are widely predicted to be in high demand for future jobs in the UK. However, this does not mean that other subjects will not give access to future jobs, nor that the ones mentioned are the best options for you! Just remember, all degrees are worth it!
As I said at the beginning, you should never base such decision solely based on future trends. Although those are growing at very impressive rates, there are also others that are worth mentioning; sectors such as chemistry, physics, teaching, human resources, project management, civil engineering, law and many more!
Please also mind that I have based those on my knowledge and the research I was able to do online. Although I have put a lot of effort in it, I might have missed on some. Moreover, I touched on market sectors that will require specific qualifications and academic paths to accreditations.
Therefore, I did not mention some sectors that do not require such paths, or that can provide that internally. It will probably take you much longer to reach certain positions without qualifications. I will always recommend investing in yourself.
So what to study for future jobs in the UK?
Firstly, no matter what you have just red, always follow your passions regardless of future trends! It might sound unwise and a contradiction to what I said at the beginning, but it is true. If you become an expert in the area you like nothing can stop you, regardless of future trends. That is what to study for (your) future jobs!
I had a friend at University who was studying history & art, he genuinely loved it. He knew everything about those subjects, he was impressive! Looking a future trends for those areas was not promising at all, but guess what? He found a job in a national museum and became the general manager after few years, his dream job!
If you are not sure of what your interests are, then looking at future trends can help you identify what to study. Even better if you develop an interest in any of the subjects in this article. As a next step I would recommend exploring them in more detail.
Don’t worry about narrowing down to specific job roles yet. Usually courses cover broader topics initially, and get more specific over time. This will naturally guide you to the role that best fits you.
I hope you find this post on what to study for future jobs in the UK helpful, you are on the right track! Always follow your dreams, it’s never too late!
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“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln