ONE of East Lancashire’s major employers has shone a light on what a careers day could look like by the year 2040.

Students have been caught up over what their futures might hold with the annual GCSE and A Level results announcements over the past fortnight.

But in 20 years time the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual reality could yield a crop of job opportunities which still only within touching distance of reality.

A new study by BAE Systems, supported by a panel of futurists and technologists, has identified at least half a dozen fields for a near-future student.

An AI ethicist would be responsible for ensuring machines are programmed responsibly, attracting those interested in philosophy, history and maths. Or an auto-advisor, as robotics takes over more facets of the working environment, can be consulted on whether humans or technology are best suited to a task. Engineers and physicists might be interested.

A virtual reality architect would map out the anticipated shelf-life of land or sea platforms, which might appeal to today’s graphic designers. And as advances continue in synthetic biology and chemical engineering, a chemical farmer could deal with, for example, multi-function aircraft parts with nanoscale features.

Otherwise known as ‘chemputing’, super-strong component parts are generated which can sense, process and harvest energy, and hopefully self-repair. The skills of modern-day chemists, biologists and engineers could be harnessed.

A BAE spokesman said: “New research has found that almost half of young people aged between 16 and 24 believe that one day they will work in a role that doesn’t exist yet. But only one in five think they are equipped with the skills required to future-proof their careers. Three-quarters also feel that they are not getting enough information about careers that will be available in the future.”

The panel has suggested that those prepared to study robotics, graphic design and philosophy would stand the best chance of future-proofing their career prospects.