Betting on future work

If the age of the general manager is over, what can we bank on for the future? Like most resources, jobs – particularly for women – are valuable when they are seen to be the creators of high value (think glass-making in the 17th century, or engineering in the 19th century); when they are difficult for others, or indeed machines, to imitate (think Wayne Rooney – well, maybe not), or when they are in short supply (think of plastic surgeons). So with this in mind, where would you place your bet?

I would bet on work around renewable energy. Right now, the spend on research around renewable energy is chicken feed. As Anatole Kaletsky points out in his book Capitalism 4.0: The Birth of a New Economy, in 2008 the entire global research efforts in all forms of non-carbon energy, including nuclear power, only amounted to about double Microsoft’s spending on an upgraded version of Windows and Office, and was far smaller than the resources devoted to new weapon systems or cancer research.

That will change – and it could change very rapidly. Over the coming years, governments and public support will significantly increase for research, development and the deployment of new non-polluting energy sources. That means that entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers will certainly be in high demand in the sustainable energy sector, but the sector will also need PR and planning specialists, and indeed everything the traditional energy sector needs. In fact, there should be more jobs available in the renewable energy sector than the traditional energy sector because the renewable energy sector creates more jobs per unit of power, per unit of installed capacity and per pound invested than conventional power generation.

Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School. Her book The Shift: How the Future of Work is Already Here will be published by Harper Collins on May 13

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About our bloggers

Liz Bolshaw

Liz Bolshaw is a business journalist and editor. She has been a successful book publisher, online editor, magazine editor and publisher.

She was launch editor of the Europe-wide online community Entrepreneur Country, has published magazines for PwC, 3i, dunhill and Bafta, and launched The Sharp Edge, a magazine for and about entrepreneurs, with Duncan Bannatyne. She is a regular contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal.

Her last project for the Financial Times was as editor of the paper’s Business Education magazine.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She writes regularly for the FT on business education, entrepreneurship, and management.

Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is an associate editor and the management editor of the FT. He was City editor of the FT and editor of the daily Lombard column on British business and finance from September 2006 to December 2010.

He was the FT’s financial editor from June 2005 to September 2006, with overall responsibility for coverage of companies and markets. Before becoming financial editor, he was the FT’s comment & analysis editor, in charge of the paper’s opinion and features pages.

From 1999 to 2003, he was the FT’s New York bureau chief. He joined the FT in 1988 and has also worked as foreign news editor, UK companies reporter and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.

Pino Bethencourt

Pino Bethencourt is a professor and leadership expert at IE Business School in Madrid. She is also an author and executive coach.

Lynda Gratton

Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School.

Linda Tarr-Whelan

Linda Tarr-Whelan, former ambassador to the UN commission on the status of women, is a Demos distinguished senior fellow.