A brake light failed on my Volkswagen; the only failure in two years. At the dealer’s while waiting for the mechanic to find a new one and fit it, I had a chance to a look around the workshop.

It was quiet. Very quiet. The mechanics were clean-handed and their overalls were surprisingly free of grease. If you have ever looked under the bonnet of a modern car, you’ll begin to understand why. Fifty years ago, cars needed the oil changing every 1000 kilometres, and different oil for summer and winter. Engines had to be ‘run in’ and the maximum speed they could go only slowly increased between oil changes. Today cars come from the factory with lubrication that lasts for 12 months and the view under the bonnet is mystifying: there appears to be only black plastic boxes under there.

As I watched, mechanics handled computer keyboards to diagnose faults and tune engines. I could not help but wonder where this was leading. In another few years can we expect new cars to roll out the factory gates with engines that will need no attention for five years? Already the easiest most effective piece of tuning you can do to a modern car is replace the microchip that controls the engine. Will engines soon be so high-tech that the local garage will never need to work on them anymore, and would not know how to if they did?

As I mused on the future of the automobile, my thoughts moved on to the mechanics. What will they be doing in the brave new world of sealed high-tech super-efficient engines of the twenty-first century? Not working as mechanics is probably the answer.

When I started working in publishing some 30 years ago in London, journalists wrote their stories on manual typewriters using sheets of paper making copies with carbon paper. After the editor had run his red pencil over the sheet, it was sent by courier to the printer. Printers were skilled people with salaries that reflected this. Type was forged from hot liquid metal on massive and complicated machines in the “compositing room”. From there the type, in the form of lines of reversed metal - like old-fashioned typewriter keys, was passed on to yet more skilled people who worked with back-to-front pages of magazines all made from metal. It was hard, dirty work in the print room. It was a profession that required a long and complicated apprenticeship and a profession that was very well paid indeed. In fact the printers were better paid than the journalists and their jobs were more secure… or so they thought.

Today modern publishing offices no longer ring to the clatter of typewriters: Printers have sent their hot-metal machines to the scrap yard, along with the men who used them. Computers do it all today. The stories are written, spell- and grammar-checked on computers. The editor and layout artists build the whole publication on screens. When they have finished they send the complete publication electronically to the print works, anywhere in the world, and the printer simply makes printing plates – by computer of course.

Many jobs, professions and careers have already gone or changed out of all recognition. How does your working future look? On the bright side, if you do not like your present career path, take solace in the fact it will likely not exist in the future.

Jobs have always been lost to changes in technology and fashion. Today these changes are much faster. It is now impossible to leave school, start a career and after forty years retire having worked in one single branch of industry or commerce. Experts talk of a career change every ten years becoming normal. Emerging technologies are no long-term help either. I recall in the 1950s that the TV repairman he used to visit our house once a month to replace a valve or something in our family’s 9 inch black and white single channel set. Homes with a TV set were rare then, today 98% of homes have at least one, but how many make a living repairing TV sets?

We will always need shop assistants, won’t we? Not if you want the cheapest prices. Recent years have seen EPOS (electronic point of sale) scanners at supermarket checkouts. You already weigh your fruit and vegetables, so why not checkout your whole shopping basket yourself? Simply buy emptying your shopping cart over a ‘wall’ with a scanner in you will soon be doing the checkout assistant’s job.

Expert retail advice is reflected in the prices you pay. But if you can learn more from the Internet about a potential purchase, than from a shop assistant, you will begrudge paying extra for such ‘advice’.

Hairdressers then? Already one can buy a home trim-kits and there is a whole generation of men who like their heads shaved with these. It only needs waste-length hair for women to come into fashion and hairdressers will have to diversify into other lines.

The oft quoted ‘roof tiler’ could be replaced by factory-made roof units, just as stairs already have been. And rooftop repairs made by remotely controlled robots.

Hopefully computers will never learn to write newspaper articles.