Although most of the research currently still says that people with degrees earn better in the long term, this will not necessarily continue to be true into the future as we start to see how companies like EY (Ernst & Young) have removed the degree filter from their recruiting requirements and there are many entry points into professions such as medicine and accountancy that were never there before.

You don’t have to study to become a doctor to get into medicine, you could study medical ethics, for example or medical robotics.  You no longer need to be a qualified, degreed chartered accountant to become an accountant today. The South African Institute for Chartered Accountants can certify you based on your experience.

Advice for young people looking at doing degrees

  • Pick a field of study you are interested in.
  • Do the most general degree you can find in that field (things are changing fast and you might change your mind once you find out what’s really available and possible beyond what you are currently aware of).
  • Do something interesting or magical with your elective subjects.
    • Example: rather than taking the easy route of doing business writing, why not study philosophy
  • During your vacation time augment what you are studying and stretch you mind some more by voluntarily doing additional studies via MOOCS (Massive Open Online Course) through which you can study almost anything you can think of, mostly for free.
  • Try and get some work experience outside of the scope of your chosen career to provide a different perspective.
  • Investigate how you can create a life of meaning by looking at the Ikigai model below
    • Sometimes this includes having a mainstream career AND a side hustle in an additional area of interest or passion
    • A side-hustle may or may not, one day, become another stream of income
  • Go to the most futuristic/technological edge of your qualification:
    • In engineering or medicine make sure you study robotics
    • In accounting study coding, artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Look at non-traditional ways to enter the professions such as lawyer, doctor, accountant, vet, architect etc – are many side doors and back doors.
  • Look at cross-disciplinary qualifications such as genetic engineering, a robotic engineer

One degree will not be enough

With the world changing dramatically and with young people likely to live to over 100 years of age, they are going to work for a very long time – in the order of 80 years. One degree will not qualify them for a lifetime or keep them relevant. To keep up they will need to:

  • Keep learning new things
  • Upskill themselves
  • Re-invent themselves
  • Adapt to change
  • Be flexible

Jobs of the future

Do read Future-proof Your Child for the 2020s and Beyond (Penguin Random House 2019) for details on:

  • Trends that are changing the world and re-shaping the world of work
  • Declining industries
  • Rising industries
  • How to build a Talent Profile for yourself to make you more employable