I was recently filming at a careers event aimed at school students, showing them the range of job options that were available to them – with speakers talking about various college courses, apprenticeships and jobs.
One of the interesting talks was aimed at getting young people to think about how employment opportunities would change by 2050. The speaker explored how technology, climate change and population needs could impact job roles in the future.
The predictions suggested there would be a growth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) related careers. This was fundamentally to embrace creating and servicing tech-related solutions like an increase in the use of drones and combating the effect of global warming.
Some of the job roles such as teachers, doctors and nurses could still be similar, but the way they operate would embrace technical advances. For example, teachers could be teaching lessons via video links, allowing individual students in remote areas to receive the same level of tuition as those in urban areas. Surgeons could perform surgery from the other side of the world and nurses carry out instant diagnosis of diseases. Whilst some of these activities are currently possible, it is often expensive and over the years we would expect these costs to drop.
The talk was very much focussed on how technology would change the opportunities available to young people with many of the jobs they’ll be doing in the future currently not in existence.
This got me thinking about ‘happiness’ and how our approach would change by 2050. The hope would be that an increase in the use of technology could make our jobs easier and more efficient, and thus free us up to work less and spend more time on other things that matter most in our lives.
Looking on the internet I soon came across an article published by Psychology Today about whether the world would be happier by 2050. The author, Chris Barrington-Leigh, an associate professor at McGill University who specialises in empirical and quantitative assessments of human well-being, set about exploring what the range of ‘change in life satisfaction’ could be between 2017 and 2050 and what kind of policies might be responsible for the changes.
To do this he looked at data from the World Happiness Report over the past 13 years and considered policy objectives that improved material outcomes (represented by income); and those policies that affected the quality of social interactions (represented by having friends and family to count on, freedom, trust in the government and whether individuals help others).
The results, unsurprisingly, showed that policies that had focused on material outcomes led to only a modest difference in happiness levels. Those that affect social engagement however, created a feeling of belonging and community – and thus could influence our future happiness much more, both positively and negatively. Looking at the positive side, the implementation of these policies could potentially lead by 2050 to the quality of life around the whole world being as good (on average) as it is currently in the 20 happiest countries.
The article concludes that if we want the ten billion human inhabitants of the world in 2050 to be living lives as fulfilling as those currently experienced in the happiest 15% of countries, we need to focus on how we treat each other rather than how much we consume.
And how can we go about this? Well, in the 21 Days to Happiness course we’ve explored activities such as giving to others, positive speech, gratitude letters and using your strengths. All of these are focused on how we treat each other, so why not revisit them for yourselves and give them a go!