As we begin to explore our inaugural Imagination Matters theme, Future Work, the Institute of Imagination (iOi) team have been reflecting on what we first imagined we would be doing in our working lives.

There are careers available now that were just developing or didn’t exist when we were at school, and with the prediction that in just over a decade, 85% of people will work in jobs not yet invented, there’s an even greater rate of change between the careers our children might imagine and the reality.

We share our early career ideas, how these jobs have already evolved, adapted to new technologies or possibility disappeared altogether and we imagine what these jobs could look like in the future.

Annie Duffield, Head of Marketing and Communications

I wanted to be an Archaeologist. Inspired by the romantic stories of Howard Carter’s excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb – the curses, the mystery and the subsequent research into the artefacts discovered, I imagined myself crawling around a pyramid with a magnifying glass and a brush, Temple of Doom style. But of course, the reality of Archaeology today is vastly different than my childhood fantasy. There’s still meticulous excavation and recording of finds, but there’s also scientific resources and techniques available that bring the past to life in a way that was not possible 20 years ago.

I imagined myself crawling around a pyramid with a magnifying glass and a brush, Temple of Doom style.

Take, for example, recent reconstructions at the British Museum. CT scanning of mummified humans and animals has enabled a deeper understanding into religious practices. In 2016, a mummified crocodile was scanned and using visualisation software, a detailed 3D picture of what the inside of this object (excavated in 1893!) looked like was produced. Even the contents of its stomach, small animal bones and stones, were reproduced using 3D printing, allowing researchers and the public the chance better understand the ritual involved in the final hours of this crocodile’s life.

Elsewhere, in southern Spain, professors from Bournemouth University have employed the use of drone photography to map out the site of a 10th Century Islamic Palace. Furthermore they’ve been analysing and understanding the providence of soil samples using portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, bringing the lab to the excavation site in new ways.

So with all these advancements in the field already, what does the future hold for archaeology? In the near or more distant future what will Archaeologists be excavating? As our digital footprints increase, will they be delving into digital pasts, exploring collective memory and emotion from the traces we leave behind across our profiles, news sites and commentaries perhaps? Museums have already started collecting digital records – for example tweets from the London Olympic Games in 2012. Could the physical world become so known, explored and documented as technology develops, that the role Archaeologists play will shift to something entirely different? We can only imagine!

Jennifer Coleman, Director of Development and Communications

When I was first asked the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ at primary school I remember being very confident that I wanted to be a Jockey. I had never ridden a horse but felt sure it was the right job for me. As I grew older (and taller) my interests changed, and by the time we were choosing work placements at secondary school I had a passion for graphic design, so secured a two-week placement at an advertising agency in Southampton.

In this small agency in the 90s the focus was on print advertising. I watched as images of boats were digitally manipulated to improve the after shots post hull cleaning for a magazine ad (the deceit of which ultimately motivated me to work in the charity sector!), but much of the way they worked was paper based.

Many of the hard skills I learnt quickly became irrelevant, it is the soft skills that have stayed with me.

I learnt about story-boarding, audience insight and client management – all of which are still highly relevant today – but online advertising and social influencing, which are mainstays of advertising today, were nowhere to be seen. Many of the hard skills I learnt quickly became irrelevant, it is the soft skills that have stayed with me.

With the dominance of online shopping, the increase in personalisation and the emergence of VR and AR there is no doubt that the role of graphic design and advertising will continue to evolve apace. There are also bound to be a dozen other developments that will soon be making waves but that haven’t been invented yet!

Tom Doust, Director of Experience and Learning

As a child I was never far from a Lego® brick: building new worlds and imagining new places. I often dreamt of Lego® factories or large pits of Lego®, a land of Lego where the bricks would be ubiquitous and any colour would be available. I was desperate to work for Lego®.

I often dreamt of Lego® factories or large pits of Lego®, a land of Lego® where the bricks would be ubiquitous

While the Lego® brick is timeless and it looks and functions much like it did when I was a child, changes are afoot at the best-selling global toy. Against the backdrop of rapid technological change and the growth in robotics, the company knows it can’t stand still. New toys like the LEGO Boost and WeDo are packed with sensors, motors and use bluetooth to enable connectivity to a device where the Lego construction can be programmed and coded.

Lego® has a bold strategy for the future: to cease manufacturing Lego® bricks by 2025. Recognising the rapidly changing digital environment, the company is also thinking about environmental sustainability. The toy market is being disrupted in other ways with the emergence of startup companies like Technology Will Save Us who are recognising that children want toys that challenge them to be creative and inventive and tap into electronic materials (circuits, LEDs, synthesisers). They are creating a #FUTUREINVENTORS community of children who are creating new incentive products.

Children today can still dream of working for Lego® but also creating their own product as a startup or tapping into the Lego world using their own entrepreneurial creativity. There will be a void to fill from 2025…


Posted by:Imagination Editor

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