Through a fundamental economic shift, some industries and vocations could prosper
By Brian Kreissl
With ongoing concerns about the global economy, debt crises among governments and individuals, austerity measures, climate change, peak oil theory, wars, famine and disease, there’s plenty going on in the world to drive people sick with worry.
Even in Canada, where up until now we’ve largely escaped the worst of the global economic meltdown, there’s plenty doom and gloom in the media. We keep hearing about the decline in the manufacturing industry, offshoring, demographic challenges, the eroding middle class and ever increasing health care and education costs.
From an HR perspective, we’re seeing declining employee engagement scores in many organizations as employers continue to require employees to do more with less. And many of the perks that typically engage employees are gone — some say forever.
What does the future hold?
Who knows what the world of work will look like even 10 years from now. Remember all those people 20 years ago who predicted the end of work as we know it?
Supposedly, computers were going to make all the important decisions, completely automated machines were going to become the means of production, and we were all going to have a whole lot more leisure time on our hands.
A few years later, however, we started hearing about the impending talent shortage with all those baby boomers about to retire en masse. Suddenly, the prospect of a severe shortage of people of working age seemed a very real possibility.
Then a strange thing happened. We had a recession — one which many pundits told us was “the worst since the Great Depression.” It took a while after the onset of the recession, but eventually not nearly as many people were talking about talent shortages.
Some even started to question whether the world of work would ever be the same again, and if we would ever get back to our former levels of prosperity — not because robots will be doing all the work, but because of fears the economy might never fully recover.
While I think the good times will return some day, it won’t come without yet another fundamental restructuring of the economy. Accompanying such changes, there’s always a certain amount of pain — especially for people in dying industries and those whose jobs are unsustainable.
I’m not an economist, but I do have a few predictions about some occupations and industries that will likely see an increase in demand, even as the economy restructures and the financial markets continue on their wild roller coaster ride.
Occupations, industries on the rise
With the aging population, it’s a no-brainer health care will likely be the place to be as boomers get older. Medical professionals and even social services workers specializing in gerontology likely won’t have much difficulty finding jobs.
While it’s been said before, skilled trades might also be a safe bet. Yet, this doesn’t necessarily mean young people would be well advised to go into traditional trades like plumbers or bricklayers.
While those are noble trades that often pay very well, in the future, I see new trades and specialties emerging that call for new skills. Some of these will relate to installing, repairing and configuring increasingly high tech equipment, while others will relate to wireless technologies or the generation of clean, renewable energy.
Anything that relates to social media — at least in the near future — seems like a safe bet. The nice thing about the explosion of social media is it will call for people with diverse skill sets, including those with backgrounds in marketing, software development, sales and even HR.
While software development will increasingly be offshored to places like India, here in Canada there will still be a demand for technology graduates who also have strong business backgrounds and communication skills. I also think ebusiness will return to the forefront as people increasingly shop for goods and services online.
Green transportation will be a growth area, as we search for alternative fuels and look to electric vehicles and public transportation to solve our transportation woes. And entrepreneurs who can create technologies and solutions that make it easier to work remotely and collaborate with colleagues globally will help ease gridlock and save on commuting and facilities costs.
Brian Kreissl is the managing editor of Consult Carswell. He can be reached at email@example.com. For more information, visit www.consultcarswell.com.