6 Skills that are Becoming Obsolete: How will You Reinvent Yourself?

During the industrial revolution of the 18th century, many people were terrified of losing their jobs. A movement of people, who called themselves the Luddites, organized protests and destroyed machines in factories.


Today, some say that we are entering a new period of job destruction. Similarly to the industrial revolution, technological progress is threatening vast professional categories and bringing back old fears. Many current professional skills won’t be needed anymore in the future. It will be more efficient to let machines work for us. What are some skills that will most likely become obsolete by 2050?


1) Handwriting


You can’t deny it: nothing beats the sentimental value of a handwritten postcard or letter from a friend. Cursive calligraphy can be beautiful! Despite all of this, handwriting is a skill that is destined to become obsolete.


Did you know that in Finland, a country with one of the most advanced educational systems, children are not being taught how to write anymore? Yes, in 2015, handwriting classes were phased out of the curriculum of Finnish schools. This foreshadows a new future in which handwriting will be an exotic skill.


2) Operating mechanical machinery


Many dangerous professions that require workers to operate mechanical machinery will be automated, requiring fewer and fewer people to produce the same amount of output. Today machines exist that can operate under minimal human supervision and carry out incredible feats. See for yourself this machine that can lay bricks:


The phenomenon of automatization, however, is not only limited to the construction industry in which machinery is required to lift heavy weights. The transformations taking place in the manufacturing industry and in the agricultural sector are also amazing:

3) Memorizing Facts


Does your present jobs require you to memorize facts that can be easily googled or retrieved from a database by performing a simple search? Phone numbers? Dates? Names? If yes, that you’d better learn something new. Mnemonics used to be an art in the past. Today,the real skill is how to look up information and store it in the most efficient manner.


As Einstein said, “never memorize what you can look up in a book”.


4) Translating sign language into speech


People who can translate sign language into speech have a unique skill. They bridge the communication gap that exists between people with speech and hearing disabilities and those who are fortunate enough to be able to use all five senses. Thanks to sign language translators everyone can understand each other.


Students from the University of Washington have invented a glove with motion sensors that can translate sign language gestures into spoken voice. This is fantastic news for people with speech disabilities! Perhaps, not such great news for those who studied countless hours to learn sign language.


5) Web Development


Let’s face the fact, developing websites has become easier and easier. There are countless Content-Managment-Systems and Frameworks that have vastly simplified the process of setting up a website. The times of having to code from scratch are gone.


True, some knowledge of HTML and CSS is still required to set up a web page, however, this knowledge is minimal as compared to a decade ago. Web development, which is regarded as a knowledge-based skill, is not a safe bet for your future career.


6) Sales Skills


With more and more people purchasing things online, with the rise of automatic checkout systems in supermarkets, airports, public transport and many other locations, being able to sell things in person is becoming a skill on the way to extinction. It might be a bit grim for people to realize that one can easily purchase things today, including groceries, without ever having to face a human being.


Selling is not a dead skill, however. It has simply transferred to the digital domain. Online marketplaces resort to scientific methods to sell more and better. User experience tests and A/B tests are performed in laboratories. Some companies go as far as performing fMRI scans of the brains of test users. This allows them to measure how much satisfaction consumers feel when interacting with a specific product or user interface. The goal? Selling more at a lower cost!


Which other skills do you think will become obsolete by 2050? How will people reinvent themselves?