Jobs of the future

In the age of big data and artificial intelligence (AI), our world is more numbers-led than ever and maths skills are equipping us for the careers of the future.

Maths and emerging careers: why maths is so important for the jobs of the future

We hear over and over again how important and valuable maths is, and there are plenty of reasons why that’s the case. But here’s a big one: maths will equip you with the skills needed to excel in the data-driven jobs of tomorrow. 

From information collected by NASA rovers on Mars, to the hundreds of hours of YouTube videos uploaded every day, or the data captured by supermarket loyalty cards, the amount of digital information we generate is mind-boggling. One popular estimate puts it at 1.7 MB every second for every person on Earth, or about 2.5 quintillion bytes every day.

The modern phenomenon of all this data and how we process and use it is called ‘big data’. Big data has been dubbed the oil of the 21st century. Just as oil was a resource that we used to power the machines of the Industrial Revolution, data (aka numbers!) will power the smart machines of today and tomorrow.

Think driverless cars using artificial intelligence (AI) to navigate roads and traffic safely, sensors creating more sustainable and efficient cities, and search engines getting better at answering all of our questions!

The language of the modern world

All this data also means career potential for anyone with the skills to use it. 

Maths skills may have once been associated with a career path to becoming a teacher or an academic, but in our technology-driven world, strong foundational maths is highly sought after and increasingly valuable. 

‘Maths is the universal language of the modern world,’ said Australia’s former Chief Scientist Alan Finkel AO in a speech in 2018.

And the numbers on maths in future jobs add up. 

Australia’s National Skills Commission used real-time job advertisement data to identify 25 emerging occupations in Australia. At least 14 of the 25 new occupations advertised with increasing frequency in 2020 were strongly data-driven.

They included jobs specifically in the field of data analytics (data analysts, data scientists, data engineers and data architects), but also other categories including health (biostatisticians), jobs stemming from emerging business practices (DevOps engineers and logistics analysts), regulatory jobs (such as risk analysts) and jobs in online engagement (such as digital marketing and user experience analysts).

Maths is the universal language of the modern world.

Looking ahead

These emerging occupations identified by the National Skills Commission drew on jobs being advertised today, but what about emerging and ‘disruptive’ technologies likely to make such lists in the years to come?

One such example is blockchain technology, which uses decentralised databases and is secured by cryptographic algorithms. A well-known application of the technology is in cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin. 

According to Australia’s National Blockchain Roadmap published in 2020, demand for blockchain-skilled workers is ‘substantial’, growing rapidly, and significantly outstripping supply. 

And as numbers and algorithms are at the heart of blockchain, it follows that being fluent in the language of mathematics will give an edge to the blockchain workforce of the future.

So next time that question ‘Why is maths so important?’ pops into your head, look around at how much technology and data and numbers rule our world, and the kinds of jobs they’ll lead to, and the answer should be pretty clear.