The job market is undergoing an irreversible transformation. The industrial revolution’s centuries-old propulsion of modern societal evolution is finally running out of steam. New technologies are replacing people as the components that drive forward movement. There’s no longer an endless supply of factory jobs and management careers for the billions of people alive on Earth today. In a world where one computer can perform the tasks of fifty-times as many humans, where will the currently unemployed and future legions of would-be professionals find work?
Chances are they will find it in the technologies and sciences.
Once upon a time you needed a pair of hands to do just about anything. Whether it was organizing archives or processing credit card applications, a human had to do it. Ever since the early 1980’s that’s been changing at an exponential pace. Every year, one or two professions became obsolete due to a newfangled machine or revolutionary software. In order to remain employed, many people had to return to school and learn a new trade. Typists became paralegals; assembly line workman became auto mechanics, et cetera.
But now even the paralegals and auto mechanics are becoming obsolete. The well of opportunity is running dry to a critical point. Add in the economic slump and resulting shrinkage of human resources across belt-tightening industries and the obvious result is an extreme shortage of employment options for present and future populations.
Those serious about remaining viable in the modern workforce need to investigate the frontiers of modern industry. It is there that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will achieve the most growth this decade. The BLS anticipates the “professional, scientific, and technical services” sector to increase by 34%, far ahead of any other category on the list. Conversely, “management of companies and enterprises” are only expected to see 5% growth in the next several years.
Consider the following: if technologies are replacing jobs, then the new jobs must be in creating these technologies. The logic doesn’t add up to the math when you factor the entirety of unemployment, but that of course is why you pursue higher education and make yourself one of the few people who can remain useful in these budding industries.
The “second industrial revolution” won’t happen overnight. Countless preexisting industries will continue to exist; they’re just expected to change drastically. These outlining sectors may not demand as much cutting edge expertise as those at the forefront of technological achievement, but they nonetheless still qualify as technical pursuits. For example, the BLS predicts that the “healthcare and social assistance” sector will grow by 26% in this decade, no doubt a reflection of massive healthcare overhauls and the demands for them. Waste management remediation follows third at 18% growth by the year 2018.
Meanwhile employment in utilities is expected to decrease by 11%. Improved industries are a double-sided coin though. It’s imperative that you consider a technical profession where the technology isn’t expected to out-do the human element. Look for industries primed to improve that still demand the interaction of human hands and more importantly the human brain.
The number of careers that were similar to those of previous generations is dissolving rapidly. In their place are few opportunities to succeed in the advancement of technologies that are themselves the replacements. But this is where aspiring professionals must look to find work. When hiring resumes to pre-recession levels, it will not likely be to the tune of the pre-recession job market. The employment landscape will be almost unrecognizable. Will you know your way around?
Ryan Sandberg is an Internet Marketer working for Growth Partner Capital with a passion for entrepreneurship, efficiency and ice hockey. He enjoys sharing his opinions/findings on finance, marketing, entrepreneurship and current tech trends.
I see your point Craig. The real thing that people entering college or preparing for it is that they should shoot for something that is hard to replace with automation. You are definitely right about lawyers and engineers. I would not want to leave those jobs up to unskilled labor or computers quite yet (maybe someday when AI hits Hollywood quality).
This isn't really new, though -- all that BLS page's graph suggests is a continuation of the same pattern: Manufacturing jobs are bleeding out while jobs are going towards services.
"Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services" is a pretty wide net. According to that BLS page, it covers lawyers, accountants, research analysts and engineers. Basically, people with much, much more education than people in the jobs that are bleeding out.
As someone who works in the IT industry I can attest to this fact. I haven't seen much of a lull for hiring in IT and we're still having lots of problems finding .Net, Java, and mainframe developers. Also, Information Security is a tough field to find people for right now. I'd suggest one of these areas as a focus if you're wanting to know what part of IT to learn about.