The School That Prepares Israelis for the Jobs of the Future

Boost Academy trains students for professions that will be in demand later, not now

3-D-printed heart engineered by Tel Aviv University scientists.
Tomer Appelbaum

Do you look at your young child today and imagine him or her one day as a re-wilder? Or maybe a computer-personality designer or an expert in engineering human body parts?

If these professions seem exotic or something out of “The Jetsons,” think again. The job market in Israel and around the world is changing fast thanks to the breakneck pace of technology development. Professions once in demand are disappearing and new ones are emerging.

In Israel, the government has pledged to help workers adapt to a changing job market, and the private sector is on board. One place where Israelis can get the training for the jobs of the future is Boost Academy, which started up a year ago at a Petah Tikva campus as an arm of the human resources company Pilat.

>> Read More: Israeli scientists just printed the world's first 3-D heart. Can humanity now produce all the organs it needs?

“We’re aiming to train people based on the 15-15 model, meaning professions that will be here in the next 15 years that could pay 15,000 shekels [$4,200] a month or more,” said Idit Biton, who heads the academy. “There are a lot of professions that lack skilled workers today, but that’s not where we are. We’re training people for the professions of the future.”

Boost Academy is using the research of Prof. David Passig, a futurologist and associate professor at Bar-Ilan University whose work has identified the jobs that will be most in demand in the future.

His 30-year predictions are for professions like neurological implant technician and human organ engineer, but those jobs are too far in the future for anyone to get training now. The Boost Academy focuses on a more limited range of professions that Passig says will be in demand in the medium term.

Boost recruits students from two sources. The first is Israeli businesses that want to get their employees up to snuff with the changing business environment; for example, banks that are closing branches as more clients use online services. The employees who once served as tellers now have to sharpen their digital banking skills.

A service robot in a hospital in Thailand.

The other group of recruits is anybody, whether young or old, looking for short, nonacademic courses that prepare them for professions where demand is just starting to grow. One example is the job of community manager.

“A community is a group of people with a shared interest that doesn’t have to belong to the person who organized it,” Biton said. “Communities exist today for shopping and sharing. The virtual world is growing and taking over our lives so that community management will itself become a profession in high demand.”

A community manager will need the management skills to operate the community, expand, build loyalty and have business skills as well because at the end of the day the effort will have to be run as a business. Companies like WeWork already employ non-virtual community managers, but in the future the focus will be online, Biton said.

Unsurprisingly, technology-focused professions rule the roost at Boost as digitization penetrates more areas of business and society, and almost everyone will have to be conversant with it. Thus the role of cybersecurity expert, which today is already important amid increasing numbers of cyberattacks. But in the medium term, this job will be a critical part of all organizations, big and small, with a stress on identifying and preventing hacking attacks.

Another emerging profession is data scientist – not simply the person who gathers and catalogs vast reams of data, but someone who knows how to use the information to make strategic decisions. Boost’s course is designed for students with a technology background but can be adapted for those without one, Biton said.

Passig predicts that many of the jobs of the near future will combine technology with softer skills relating to art and psychology. One example is personalized-computer designer, a job that might seem ridiculous but actually will be critical as people increasingly rely on robots.

“Service robots like Siri will have a big place in our lives,” Biton said. “The people who program them won’t necessarily be people with a background in psychology, and they won’t know how to design robots with complete personalities and sensitivity to how to manage relations with the people they’re helping. I don’t doubt that there will be huge demand in the future for integrating technology and psychology skills.”

Others jobs that will mix hard and soft skills are digital architecture, virtual reality designers and 3D printing designers, she said.

As the amount of data keeps growing, so will demand for data storage experts who can sift through critical and useless data. “Every child will have data – images, videos and documents …. There will be demand for storage solutions far more advanced than the primitive cloud computing and server farms we rely on now,” Biton predicted.

Drone pilot is another rising profession – people with the skills to manage the aircraft for use in delivering packages, spraying fields with pesticides and doing things no one has even thought of yet.

Outside the field of computers and data, a future profession will be energy warehouse expert, a person with expertise in storing and distributing energy from renewable sources. Others will be engaged in waste engineering for recycling and repurposing trash, while re-wilders will restore sites where human activity has destroyed the environment.

In the health care industry, there will be jobs for medical navigators who help patients find their way through health care options, services, technologies and treatments. Doctors will need specialists in remote care. Human organ engineers will help design artificial body parts with the help of 3D printers.

Last week, scientists at Tel Aviv University provided a taste of things to come when they printed the world’s first 3D heart complete with blood vessels using personalized “ink” made of collagen.