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Metaverse jobs: Myth or reality?

Updated: Jun 24

Have you considered a role as a metaverse research scientist? What part of your résumé demonstrates that you have the skills to take on a metaverse job?

The first electronic television was invented in 1927 by Philo Farnsworth who was 21 years old at the time. Early televisions were bulky and expensive, and viewed as a novelty. People worked more, read books, socialised, and they listened to the radio. Initially, some wondered who was going to sit around and look at fuzzy images on a tiny screen when there were so many more important things to do!

Shy of a hundred years on, we are having remarkably similar conversations about the metaverse - the next generation of the internet which promises to revolutionise the way we live, work, and play. The avatars are clunky, it’s viewed askance by many, and who’s going to roam around in these virtual spaces when we can sit down and have a real cup of coffee?

The Future is Here

Accelerated by the pandemic, most of us are in fact moving in the direction of the metaverse. In the past two years, all of us have participated in more than our fair share of videoconferences. We have undoubtedly saved time on commuting (and reduced our carbon footprint), but most would agree that the experience remains a poor substitute for meeting someone in person. Now imagine a scenario where you are interacting virtually, but the experience feels as if you are present in the same room.

Many of us have migrated some of our shopping online. Suffice to say it doesn’t always work, as online shopping lacks the engagement and visualisation that’s possible when, for example, you try on an outfit at a retail store. The metaverse offers the possibility of a superior experience that combines the power of search engine-based discovery, with an immersive experience.

Let’s say your favourite band is performing a concert twelve time zones away. Instead of merely watching the concert virtually (as you might have during the pandemic), imagine feeling as if you are right there in the arena, in the midst of the cheering crowd.

It’s actually not too much of a leap from where we are today.

While early Metaverse applications were in gaming, a growing list of companies including Audi, Gucci, McDonald’s, Adidas, Samsung, Nestle, Christie’s, Coca Cola, and Boeing are staking out positions in this brave new world. IKEA has launched an augmented reality catalogue app that allows shoppers to see what a piece of furniture would look like in your home before you decide to buy it. Banking giant J.P. Morgan has become the first bank to enter the metaverse.

Meanwhile German startup software company VRdirect helps large companies do business in the metaverse by providing virtual solutions that encompass sales and marketing, manufacturing, training, and human resources. For example, Siemens uses virtual reality to enhance the effectiveness of environment, health and safety training for employees, while global manufacturer Cherry uses virtual showrooms to drive sales and strengthen their brand.

The birth of the television spawned an entire ecosystem of jobs and careers that did not previously exist. Likewise, the metaverse will create demand for jobs that are barely suggestions today. In the metaverse, there will be a need for ecosystem developers, hardware builders, cyber security and safety experts, even world builders (now that sounds like a fun job!)

In order to have a functioning metaverse, many components including technology, legislation, and financial systems need to converge. Here’s where the ecosystem developer comes in, lobbying partners and governments to ensure interoperability and scaleability.

Hardware builders integrate the virtual world with cameras, sensors, headsets, and other devices that simulate tactile experiences.

The internet in its current incarnation is rife with risks as it is. The metaverse will need cyber security and safety experts to enforce rules and create a safe virtual world for everyone.

While some of these jobs may seem farfetched today, it’s instructive to look back at recent history to see just how quickly new jobs have emerged. In 2013 - less than ten years ago - LinkedIn examined data from over 259 million members to identify the 10 most popular job titles that were nowhere to be found in 2008. On the list were jobs such as IOS and Android developers, data scientist, big data architect, social media intern, and digital marketing specialist. Today, all of these jobs are pervasive.

Prepare for the Future Today

While the metaverse may be in its infancy, it will no doubt continue to evolve. And whatever your views on the metaverse, the pattern is clear - new jobs are likely to be created at an astounding pace.

The onus is therefore on us to keep reinventing ourselves for the future. We should expect that a large number of metaverse jobs will become available within the next few years. Are you ready?

A version of this article was originally published in The Business Times on May 15, 2022.


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