The only certainty is that nothing is certain!
And this goes with jobs as well.
Thus Andrew McAfee, co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, suggests that the increased productivity from sophisticated machine and computing power will lower prices and reduce the need of certain professions.
Thus an estimated 40-50% of jobs will be extinct within the next 20 years.
Let’s see the job loss forecast in the foreign languages industry:
1. Language Teachers
Thomas Frey, senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute says that teachers as such are unlikely to become extinct. However, free online learning is revolutionizing teaching models.
For example, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) currently offers more than 2,000 courses online and there have been more than 130 million downloads.
The Khan Academy offers a similar number of courses, and downloads exceed 100 million.
Consequently, in the future there will be fewer teachers and professors.
The good news is that there will be more coaches, course designers and learning camps.
2. Interpreters and Translators
The nuances of language make voice interpretation difficult for computers. So far.
In an article for BBC News, Kevin Rawlinson wrote that he found various Google language apps to be helpful but awkward in practice.
But according to The Economist, which cites the consulting firm Common Sense Advisory, sales in the language interpretation industry are approaching $37 billion each year!
This implies that Google and other leading technology firms will continue to attempt to perfect their tools. So they can grab the largest pie slice in this industry.
Therefore one day soon, the need for interpreters could disappear.
Concluding, the term “extinction” might be too strong.
These professions will disappear in terms of absolute numbers of jobs, but not as specific professions.
Both of these professions may live longer as niche activities: coaches, off main stream language teachers, legal system interpreters or old school learners not willing to be “wired”.
And they will provide enough for the few best professionals in this niche.