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From Dundee to Outer Space: 21 places defining the future of work

From Dundee to Outer Space: 21 places defining the future of work

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The Coronavirus pandemic has changed how we all live and work and reports already suggest we will see a mass movement out of previous economic hubs such as London. That’s why Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work’s latest report, 21 Places of the Future has set out to define where the new roles it predicts will make up the future of work, will appear.

In 2021, we’re on the precipice of stunning advances in new technologies and new ways of working, living, eating, drinking, entertaining, creating and innovating new businesses, which, like the assembly line a century ago, are fuelling the workforce of tomorrow in cities and regions all over the globe. For a variety of reasons – adversity and necessity, situation and circumstance, a lack of anything better to do, an abundance of ‘greenfield’ and ‘brownfield’ spaces where the young (in age and spirit) can experiment and, most importantly, locals are determined to take control of their future – these places could, over time, become the new Manchesters and Detroits and Silicon Valleys of the 21st (and 22nd) century.

The 21 places defined

Cognizant developed a methodology to pinpoint these 21 places that are fuelling the future jobs market. This was based on three key factors which enable the success of a place of the future. These are quality of colleges and universities, access to private capital and a supportive local government. Factors building on these foundations include lifestyle, physical infrastructure and affordability of a place. The featured places are also often anchored on one key technology, concepts or communities, for example cybersecurity, sustainability, FinTech, digital engineering or virtual workspaces.

The Northern light – Dundee

In the UK, the spotlight falls firmly on Dundee. Cognizant identified the Scottish city as a cutting-edge tech hub. This small city is creating a culture of innovation.

According to the report, the city has been elevated onto the global stage thanks to its £1 billion waterfront redevelopment which includes the V&A Museum that is helping the city to achieve its reputational overhaul. Yet Dundee forged its identity as a hub of creative design and technology long before this by being home to a comic book industry that inspired many artists. Perhaps more surprising is Dundee’s play in the e-sports world, known for the video games ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and ‘Lemmings’ which were created here. The city’s Abertay University was also the first in the world to offer a degree in computer game design in 1997 – the result of a collaborative effort between the university and the games design sector.

A snapshot of the places of the future

Outside of the UK, some of the other places that are defining the future of work in 2021 and beyond include:

  • Israel (the new Silicon Wadi): A melting pot of ancient and modern, traditional and progressive, east and west. Encompassing these dichotomies are the two distinctly diverse names attributed to the country: ‘The Holy Land’ and ‘Silicon Wadi’ (‘Wadi’ meaning ‘Valley’ in Arabic). Especially when it comes to cybersecurity, the original Silicon Valley faces fierce competition from the Eastern Mediterranean, for while the entire world struggles with cyberthreats, Israel is light-years ahead.
  • Tallin: We are all familiar with Skype, ordering a cab from Bolt or making an international money transfer with Transferwise. Tallinn, a.k.a., the Silicon Valley of the Baltic and world-famous in certain circles for its singing festival and marzipan, is also the capital city of Estonia, which ranks among the top three countries in Europe in terms of the number of startups per capita, according to Funderbeam.
  • Da Nang: A central coastal city that once acted as the US airbase during the Vietnam War, Da Nang is making strides towards becoming an eco-smart urban area, a hub for startups and innovation and one of the most liveable cities in Asia. Even after a mid-summer outbreak of COVID-19 resulted in the immediate evacuation of 80,000 tourists and short-term losses to the local economy, Da Nang remains an attractive destination for international companies. More than just a tourist hotspot, Da Nang is all about growth – massive growth – and it’s poised to become an investment destination for the world. Rampant construction and incipient skyscrapers are proof of a new Da Nang in the making.
  • Sacramento: California’s political power is cantered – literally and figuratively – in Sacramento. During the First Industrial Revolution, the city was famous for its namesake river, which, at its confluence with the American River, formed the westernmost terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad and the Pony Express, and launched a thousand ships upstream to the mining camps of the Gold Rush in 1849. But history and politics aren’t Sacramento’s only forte. Filled with charming turn-of-the-century buildings, the city has undergone a renaissance that could propel it and its environs well into the future. With its leading-edge green-energy infrastructure from its community-owned utility district, reenergised connectivity with the University of California at Davis, a thriving pre-pandemic food scene (billing itself as the farm-to-table capital of the world) and a revitalised downtown core – when the contagion abates, Sacramento will flourish once again.
  • Outer space: 50 years on from Neill Armstrong’s moon landing, outer space exploration remains in its infancy. But that’s set to change. Welcome to the roaring ‘20s: Space is a new frontier of exploration and innovation of ‘new worlds’ that will rival the Age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Moon, Mars, space stations and space hotels will become ‘places’ of the 21st century.

Euan Davis, Associate Vice President, Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, EMEA, said: “The resulting 21 places identified in the report form a roadmap for businesses, government and people to learn from the success of other places that are booming. This means the hubs of the future are no longer the obvious success stories of London, New York, San Francisco and Sydney, but instead are forecast to be the likes of Lisbon, Nairobi, Da Nang and Tel Aviv.”

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