A survey of young people, coinciding with A-level results day yesterday, found that almost half (47%) of 16 to 24-year-olds believe they will work in a role that does not currently exist.
But less than one-in-five think they have the skills required to future-proof their careers.
In response to the study – which was carried out by defence technology firm BAE Systems – the company used a panel of futurists and technologists to predict the job roles likely to exist in 2040, and the subjects which could provide skills for those jobs.
It included roles such as an AI ethicist, who would be responsible for ensuring artificial intelligence was underpinned by robust ethics.
The panel argued that current subjects such as philosophy, history and maths would be useful for such a role, and young people should look at how such subjects could help them in the jobs of the future.
It also identified the areas of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robotics as key emerging technologies which would provide some of the best careers in years to come.
BAE Systems’s principal technologist Nick Colosimo said: “Advances in technology, engineering and science, mean the workplace of today will look dramatically different in 2040.
“Whilst it’s impossible for today’s young people to know exactly where their career will take them in the next 20 years, a wide range of skills will be useful in future-proofing the careers of young people today.
“Indeed, subjects as varied as graphic design, philosophy, chemical engineering and cybersecurity will prove valuable for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Other potential roles of the future identified by the panel included an auto adviser who provides advice on where automation could be introduced inside a company, and a virtual reality architect, who would work with virtual models of buildings and large commercial vehicles to remotely analyse when and where maintenance would be needed.
“Some of the best technicians at BAE Systems come from different backgrounds, and as future positions evolve, it’s important that school leavers embrace the element of the unknown to future-proof their careers,” Mr Colosimo said.