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1980s

The eighties saw the rise of personal technology, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the global embrace of shoulder pads. But, in a fast-changing world, how did our occupations reflect the state of a society in flux?

1980s
1980
1981

The first IBM-PC is released. [2]

Keypunch Operator

Keypunch Operator

Keypunch operators would punch holes in cards as a form of data entry – for example, to record employees’ working hours. With the rise of personal computers, the job became obsolete.

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1982
1983

The compact disc (CD) goes on sale for the first time in the UK.

Motorola releases its first ever commercial mobile phone, the DynaTAC 8000X [3] - costing £2,639.

Switchboard Operator

Switchboard Operator

In the early 20th century, switchboard operators connected almost every call. By the 80s, the process was almost completely automated.

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1984

Across several regions of the UK, British miners go on strike to protest the closure of coal pits.

Colliery Viewer

Colliery Viewer

A colliery viewer would manage the overall output of a mine. Coal-mining was a prominent British industry at the start of the 1980s, but these jobs began to disappear as the industry went into decline.

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1985
1986

The first PC virus, known as Brain, begins to spread.

Anti-Virus Software Developer

Anti-Virus Software Developer

As computers became more popular, new jobs grew around them. Anti-Virus Software Developers began to develop programs that could protect computers from malicious virus attacks.

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1987
1988

For the first time, the sales of CDs exceed the sales of vinyl records. [4]

Record Press Operator

Record Press Operator

These operators tended to the machines that pressed an impression of a master disc onto vinyl. Most vinyl factories shut down after CDs became popular in the 80s. [1]

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1989
Job Titles Important Events
1990s

The 90s saw the dot-com boom, a UK recession and the opening of the Channel Tunnel. And in a decade notable for both poverty and growth, some long-established careers came to an end. At the same time, technology and culture lead to the birth of jobs that are still around today.

1990s
1990

QuarkXPress becomes the most popular software for publishers around the world. [6]

Typesetter

Typesetter

Typesetters manually positioned letters for printing presses. [5] These jobs dwindled as desktop publishing and digital typesetting became prevalent.

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1991
1992

Prime Minister John Major introduces the National Cones Hotline.

National Cones Hotline Worker

National Cones Hotline Worker

After a spate of motorway delays, a national hotline was set up to deliver information on roadworks. Workers would answer enquiries and allow motorists to report unnecessary cone placement.

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1993

The Mosaic web browser is released, making the World Wide Web more accessible.

Ceefax Engineer

Ceefax Engineer

The world’s first teletext service, Ceefax, broadcasted sports results, recipes and other information through TV sets. Ceefax and the jobs supporting it died out as the internet became more popular.

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1994
1995

The Cones Hotline is shut down. Out of 17, 000 calls to the service, only five resulted in cones being removed. [7]

1996

Take That (boyband phenomenon) breaks up.

Take That Counsellor

Take That Counsellor

Teenagers, distraught by the break-up of boyband, Take That, threatened suicide. The government responded by setting up a counselling helpline.

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1997
1998
1999

Apple releases the first personal computer with Wi-Fi (Air Port). [8]

User Experience Designer

User Experience Designer

As computer technology and the internet became more accessible, user experience became more important. User Experience Designers work to make technology as intuitive as possible.

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Job Titles Important Events
2000s

The 2000s saw wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a global economic crash, and the birth of YouTube, Myspace, Twitter and Facebook. And as the intense technological advancement of recent decades continued, there were dramatic changes in employment too.

2000s
2000
2001
2002
2003

Amazon launches free shipping for orders over £25.

Dot com picker

Dot com picker

As e-commerce became more popular, new jobs were created. A dot com picker would pick out items to be sent off to shoppers who had made online purchases.

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2004

Dixons becomes the first UK company to stop selling VHS players. [10]

Video Store Clerk

Video Store Clerk

These clerks would help people to rent films in video stores. However, video stores were hit by the changing formats of home entertainment and slowly disappeared during the 2000s.

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2005

PC World announces that it will no longer sell floppy disks. [11]

Technology Evangelist

Technology Evangelist

For new technologies, an ‘Evangelist’ will inform, educate and promote the gadget to gather support and enthusiasm from the public.

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2006
2007

The iPhone and Kindle are first released.

App Developer

App Developer

As mobile phones became more advanced, companies began to make small computer programs (called apps) that can be installed on them. An App Developer creates these programs.

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2008

The UK falls into a recession.

Insolvency Accountants

Insolvency Accountants

As the UK’s recession hit, many companies folded. This branch of accountancy was one of the few beneficiaries of the recession, and it experienced an increase in business. [9]

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2009
Job Titles Important Events
2010s

Since 2010 we’ve had the drama of Brexit, the debut of the iPad, and the death of David Bowie. But in this period of intense change, some surprising new job titles emerged, mainly from the technology sectors.

2010s
2010
2011
2012

Facebook discloses that its profits jumped by 65% to $1 billion in the previous year. [14]

Chief Listening Officer

Chief Listening Officer

With the rise of social media, companies became interested in what the average person was saying. Chief Listening Officers track all press, social media and public conversations about their company.

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2013

Digital Overlord

Digital Overlord

In an increasingly crowded digital space, professionals resorted to whacky names in order to stand out. A Digital Overlord has similar responsibilities to a Website Manager, usually overseeing the content and functionality of a company website. [12]

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2014

Deloitte research reveals that millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025. [15]

Millennial Generational Expert

Millennial Generational Expert

As millennials grew into workers, they became more influential in business. Experts began offering consultations on how to communicate with people reaching adulthood in the early 21st century.

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2015

The population of London reaches a record high of 8.6 million. [16]

Walk on Water Architect

Walk on Water Architect

As property prices in London continued to soar, people sought new housing solutions. These architects design properties that float on water. [13]

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2016

Britain decides to leave the European Union in the historic ‘Brexit’ vote.

Minister of the Department for Exiting the EU

Minister of the Department for Exiting the EU

The UK government launched a new department exclusively dedicated to Brexit. By 2018 it had over 300 staff, including high-ranking ministers who would oversee different areas of the transition.

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2017

The UK tech sector is reported to be growing faster than the UK economy. [17]

Scrum Master

Scrum Master

A Scrum Master coordinates development teams working on software. As software became an integral part of commerce, the position became essential in many large organisations.

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2018
2019
Job Titles Important Events
Future jobs: 2020 and beyond

Nobody knows what will happen in the future, but the past has shown us that interesting new jobs are created every year. Here are a few roles that may come into existence as technology and life continues to change.

Future jobs

Digital Memorialist

Digital Memorialist

People in the future will be remembered by their digital footprint after they pass on. A digital memorialist will sort through the deceased’s online memorabilia, purging anything embarrassing and leaving the best memories behind.

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Extinction Revivalist

Extinction Revivalist

In the future, bringing back long-gone animal species could help to regulate our ecosystems and educate the next generations. An extinction revivalist will specialise in using fossilised DNA to re-create the animals of yesterday.

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Digital Locksmith

Digital Locksmith

In the future, locks might respond to fingerprints, voice commands or pheromones – good news if you’re prone to losing your keys. But no technology is perfect, so digital locksmiths will be there to help people who get locked out.

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Space Exploration Guide

Space Exploration Guide

As commercial space flights become a reality, holiday activities will no longer be restricted to Earth’s surface. A space exploration guide will accompany people on tours into Earth’s outer atmosphere, providing commentary and comfort.

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Privacy Consultant

Privacy Consultant

As technology continues to become more intertwined with our lives, new concerns over personal data will arise. A privacy consultant will help people to safeguard their sensitive information to their chosen level of privacy.

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