How to prepare for future professions? Which professions will be in demand on the labour market after 10, 20 or 30 years? Will our current efforts have become obsolete? Professions and the labour market in the world are changing so rapidly that children, who are starting schooling now, must be aware that they will have to fully change their profession multiple times over their lifetimes. Besides, a half of all future professions still do not even exist!

Within the framework of the Conversation Festival “Lampa 2019”, the discussion organised by the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia and “Coca‑Cola HBC Latvija” took place: “Labour market — how to prepare for future professions?”. In it, the former Minister for Education and social anthropologist Roberts Ķīlis, the businessman of the Electronics and IT sectors Normunds Bergs, the Director General of the LEC Līga Meņģelsone, the influencer Deniss Ševeļovs, and the Chairman of the Board of “TechChill” startup conference Ernests Štāls shared their thoughts and vision about the future. The discussion was moderated by the founder and manager of “New black” Artūrs Mednis.

“11 years ago, I had a chance to talk about various competencies and professions that might exist in the future. Back then, everything seemed more hopeful, creative, more optimistic and enthusiastic. Today, it appears a bit different, more grim, challenging, variable and stressful. This, clearly, is linked to what has been happening over this last decade. What to do? One thing is to give up things that will never happen. Another is creativity — to think differently than up to now and, the third — co-operation. The forth would be to know how to learn!” explains the former Minister for Education, the social anthropologist Roberts Ķīlis.

Whereas, the businessman in the sectors of electronics and IT Normunds Bergs reminds us: “Children, of course, learn physics and mathematics. Learn foreign languages. And that is the first recipe. In order for you to learn how to learn throughout your lifetime, you need to know how to read and write, you must know your native tongue and at least one foreign language, and you must know the basics of physics and mathematics! But the good news is that there will be things that will change very quickly, for instance, to name one, I would certainly be afraid to train as a lorry or taxi driver.”

From 2018 until 2022, 42 % of the high demand skills on the labour market will change. The rapidly increasing lack of labour force in Latvia, as well as technological progress and the availability of technological innovations are the trends that force employers to search new and innovative solutions. Automation and digitalisation of sectors are trends that practically all employers are now faced with in Latvia. Technological progress helps resolve the problems of lack of labour force, offers opportunities to create new jobs, which create a higher added value and thereby increase overall productivity of sectors.

“We are experiencing problems already now, and we lack labour force! The life forces employers to change many things, because there are no options really — “You must use robots.” And then we start to think what to do,” the Director General of the ECL Līga Meņģelsone assesses the situation.

Ernests Štāls “Yes, in fact, there are things that are already being replaced. You find an app and complete tasks faster. I think that is the case — you never know when an algorithm or a robot will replace what you are doing. And there are people, who believe that, for example, if I am a doctor, then that’s completely different, but no — we already now have an algorithm, in which, by entering hundreds of cancer images from various stages, it will be much better at arriving at a conclusion than some “expert”.”

But how could we assess an influencer as a profession in the future? Will it see its time of glory? Normunds Bergs believes that overall it is the opinion leader. It is also a priest in a church, to whom people listen. “A person, to whom people listen, usually is a person with experience or knowledge, and, if you have achieved something in life, then you know what you are saying. The big difference is in the fact that not enough people with a sufficient amount of knowledge are participating in the digital environment, while young people are more digitally inclined, therefore there are more sprightly people, who simply fill in the niche.”

“Of course, at some point, we will be living in a world, where everything will be robotised — we are now starting to talk about the post-work world. I believe that in 50 years we will experience it all, well, in Latvia, perhaps in 70 years, but we will. As regards sectors that might be relevant, it is the service industry. I remember that in Latvia we experienced problems when we introduced self-service cash registers, while our neighbours already had them. The same with voting with an e-signature. Latvians seem to have some sort of inner resistance, because people are afraid to lose their jobs. Before the politics and society’s thinking in Latvia change, nothing will happen,” the influencer Deniss Ševeļovs expresses his concerns.