Earlier this week, the Lt. Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, said that in the future, "65% of grade school kids are going to have a job that hasn’t been invented yet.” If the past has taught us anything, though, it's that most yet-to-be-invented jobs will never actually exist.
While it sounds like one of those made-up statistics, Newsom's estimate actually comes from a 2011 book about brain science by Cathy Davidson. She contends that we should be teaching our children using radically different methods so that they can compete in a bold new job market, one that's just over the horizon and filled with futuristic-sounding work. While she may have a point, predicting what jobs will be common 20 years hence is quite the guessing game. And it's one we've been playing—poorly—for decades.
The 1982 book The Omni Future Almanac took a stab at what the job market of the future might look like. The book has a handful of predictions for jobs that were rare in 1982 and actually fairly common today, like "copyright law analyst" and "computer games programmer." But for the most part, the jobs are simply a reflection of ideas that people of the 1980s had about the future. While cryogenics lab assistant is certainly a job that exists, they're not nearly as common as they were predicted to be. Nor are there many holograph designers here in the year 2013. Or space geographers.