A global business futurist is putting his money on the six most in-demand career paths of the future - and unsurprisingly, health and wellness is one of them.
Uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has had wide consequences - and not just financially. Independent research of 4000 Kiwis annually conducted by Nature for online jobs website SEEK found as a result of the pandemic, 55 percent were more aware of their mental health.
Just over a third (39 percent) of Kiwis surveyed agreed their mental health was affected and a quarter thought the most helpful career advice would be improving their mental health and wellbeing.
COVID-19 alert levels have disrupted routines, forcing Kiwis to work differently. Although each situation is different, SEEK psychologist Sabina Read says as home and work have become more blended, workplace wellness has diversified.
There's now a lot more jobs available within the health and wellness industry - and demand for advice on improving work-life balance.
"On [the] SEEK NZ website, you'll find listings such as 'wellness retreat manager', 'healthy lifestyle advisor' and a myriad of listings for mental health support workers," Read said.
Futurist Morris Miselowski says although technology is the most obvious candidate for future growth, careers focusing on helping people live their best lives will be the biggest trend hitting the global job market.
"While there will still be a need for people who can code, these types of skills will be cooling down and making way for those who can integrate tech and humanity," Miselowski says.
Health and wellbeing, mental health, aged care and physician (surgical) assistants are among the top fields he picks will be the way of the future. But he also expects 'virtual influencer teams' and 'robotic-to-human experts' to become sought-after.
1. Health and wellbeing
As people increasingly take charge of their health and wellbeing, Miselowski expects the sector to keep growing.
"The health and wellbeing sectors will be growth industries - we're increasingly taking wellbeing into our own hands, including when it comes to caring for our elders and we're learning to be more discerning in this age of information," Miselowski says.
Jobs available in this field include health and wellness coaches, physiotherapists, personal trainers, nutritionists and dieticians.
2. Mental health workers
COVID-19 alert level restrictions including social distancing have caused feelings of isolation.
Miselowski says this has shone a light on the message that mental and physical health go hand-in-hand.
There's a wide range of jobs available in mental health, from telehealth counselling to senior policymaking. On Wednesday, the SEEK NZ website showed 1198 jobs within the mental health field.
3. Aged care
Thanks to an aging population and an increased focus on at-home care, Miselowski says this is likely to put pressure on health services, requiring them to expand.
In addition to fields such as physiotherapy, he expects more demand for people who can help with everyday living: gardening, preparing meals, driving and delivering supplies.
4. Surgical assistants
As training to become a qualified specialist surgeon can take up to 15 years, Miselowski says physician (surgical) assistants are likely to be more in demand, as they can be trained in less time.
Physician assistants (PA's) may do patient exams, order and interpret tests and imaging, diagnose and order treatment, develop management plans and review patients. Depending on experience and requirements, they can also assist in surgery and perform minor surgical procedures. This type of role may currently be referred to as a registered nurse, operating theatre nurse or theatre team leader.
5. Virtual influencer teams
Lil Miquela ('Miquela') is a virtual influencer with over three million followers on social media platforms, including Instagram.
A Japanese virtual rock star who holds sold-out concerts, Miquela could be making up to £8.96 million (NZD$17.3million) per year, according to The Mirror.
Building and branding virtual influencers is poised to become a sought-after career in the future, according to Miselowski. But he says simply knowing how to code is unlikely to fill the brief. Expertise in marketing and psychology could help.
"These personas, who update as often as real-life influencers, are established on the basis of detailed intel on what audiences respond to, both appearance and behaviour-wise," Miselowski says.
6. Robotic-to-human experts
Requiring a mix of skills including IT, psychology and consumer behaviour, robotic-to-human experts specialise in bridging the gap between humans and technology.
"It can involve influencing habits and purchases through in-app experiences, voice command tech and programming tech to deliver a unique experience or recommendation specific to each time, situation or place," Miselowski adds.
According to SEEK New Zealand's February employment report, the number of advertised jobs nationwide was down 2 percent year-on-year. Industries contributing to the highest growth in job ad numbers month-on-month were retail and consumer products, trades and services and construction. On Wednesday, the trades and services, information and communications technology and transport and logistics sectors had the highest number of jobs advertised.