We see another job revolution taking place now and into the coming decades due to industry change, just like we experienced during the industrial revolution. However, this is one is driven by technology. Exponential technologies like AI, robotics and automation are predicted to replace many jobs currently filled by humans. In addition, new inventions will make old technology obsolete, and many industries will be digitized and democratized.
The McKinsey Report states that 15-30% of jobs could be displaced by 2030.
However, it does not mean jobs will disappear entirely, they will be replaced by new jobs in new industries. This means that the needs of society will continue to evolve and those who wish to have success in the future job market, we must continue to evolve with society.
But, before we look at what this could mean to your industry or career path, let’s look at the good news…
We’ve Been through Massive Industry Change Before
Human ingenuity and technology is a never-ending, ever-changing dance toward progress and a new way of life. And with each new wave of innovation, old technologies and industries have fallen away. But…
EVERY SINGLE TIME industries have died new ones have been born.
We said goodbye to the “milkman”, switchboard operators, lamplighters, elevator operators… then later record manufacturers and video store clerks.
Ice used to be the largest industry in the united states. Yes, ICE – like the ice cutters they show in the Frozen movie. That is, until refrigerators were invented. The ice industry spent many years trying to convince people that refrigerators were dangerous, in attempt at saving their jobs. It is understandable, but aren’t you glad you don’t have to store your food in a damp hole in the ground?
The Horse and Buggy industry was once one of the biggest industries around the world. It employed people who built and sold the buggies, wheels and horse gear, the drivers and repair mechanics, and those who maintained the dirt roadways. Then, there were also those who bred and reared the horses, ran the stalls, and trained them. Within a few decades of the introduction of motorized, gas-powered automobiles, the entire horse and buggy industry was completely gone. Electric cars are now doing exactly the same thing to gas-powered cars. We can all agree that we would not want to go back to having our streets filled with horse poo.
More recently we’ve seen the almost disappearance of bookstores, photo film, the postal service, and printing presses. Soon we will see the disappearance of cashiers, truck drivers, parking attendants, gas stations, wired telecom services, and most department stores.
As those industries fade in to history, new ones will rapidly emerge, including urban farming, robotics, 3D printing, digital education, information products, alternative energy.
How will this next wave impact the job market?
There are 4 main ways that technology is disrupting industries and the careers within them. However, in each situation there are also new opportunities being created.
1) Humans are Being Replaced
When most people think about changes happening that impact the job market, the first things that comes to mind is robotics, AI and automation. This is the most obvious area for rapid changes. Not only manual, repetitive tasks can be displaced by technology, intellectual ones can too, like services provided by many in the legal, analytics, and medical field. In fact, the McKinsey Report states that 50% of current work activities are entirely automatable and that another 6-10% could have at least 30% of their activities automated. While many jobs that exist today will become less in demand, jobs in these fields are soaring. In fact, there is a common phenomenon now that companies are having trouble finding trained workers in these high tech fields. Retooling your education could open up a world of opportunity.
2) New Technology Makes Old Ones Obsolete
In the examples I have before about the refrigerator and the automobile, every new leap forward leaves behind old ways. Sometimes it’s a rapid change but other times it takes a long time. For example vinyl records have been around for 100 years. At first, eight-track came and whet, but vinyl remained… then cassette tapes came and went… but vinyl remained… then CD’s came and the vinyl industry died over night. Now digital music has completely changed the music industry, including dramatically reducing the usefulness of CDs.
But, the music industry is a great example of how these changes open up new opportunities. While the old way that successful musicians made their money, record sales as well as radio airtime, have dramatically reduced, there is a resurgence of interest in live music events. Even more importantly, YouTube and online digital music sales platforms have made it possible for unknown musicians to monetize their small following or even become internet sensations and dominate the music industry. Justin Beber is a great example, as he started out on YouTube. This gives musicians a path to success without relying on a small number of highly controlled record labels that use end up keeping the fast majority of an artist’s earnings.
3) Digitization: When Formerly Physical Items Become Available Through Digital Form.
Think about it, the smart phone in your pocket has replaced the need for CDs, newspapers, books, magazines, cameras, calculators, GPS systems and hundreds more items that have dematerializes into digital apps. As the need for these physical items decreases, so do the jobs in production, delivery, warehousing, and retail. However, it’s no secret that there are opportunities to be had in the digital world. As those objects disappeared, smartphone apps, online stores, programming, information products, and a bazillion other online or digital products became their replacements – and with them came a whole new world of job opportunities.
4) Democratization: Taking Out the Middleman And Putting the Means of Production and Consumption into The Hands of the People.
The most obvious example of democratization is online marketplaces like Amazon, Ebay, Shopify and Etsy. Once, all product purchases had to come through brick and mortar stores—middle men that purchased the product, market it up to collect their fee, and sold it to consumers. Today, products are more and more being sold online. Since the costs of running online shops is dramatically less than running a store, online merchandise can be sold at a lower price. No more middle man, or at least a less expensive middleman. But not only that, it is not only the big corporations that can sell products online. It’s any person who is willing to do the work to warehouse items in their garage, peruse yard sales for ebay finds, or create their own custom products. Now individual people can participate in the buy and sell game. Product sales has been democratized. However, many other industries have been “democratized” too. For example, AirBNB has democratized hotels. Uber has democratized the taxi/transportation market. Today, individual people can turn their home or car into a means to make money by offering it to someone who previously only could rent a room or catch a ride through hotels or taxis. And this video you’re watching and the online course that it’s part of is democratizing education. Today, Universities and colleges do not hold a monopoly on higher education. Anyone in the world can learn anything from anyone else in the world, whether they’re a college professor, business executive, private tutor, or any individual person who is an expert, hobbies, or educator. Education has been democratized.
The point of bringing this up is not to express any political, philosophical, or moral argument for or against any of these things. The point is to put them all on the table so that YOU can decide how you would like to proceed, in light of this information.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do any of these 4 ways technology is impacting different industries apply to your line of work?
- Will it increase or decrease demand in your industry, and in what way?
- Can you spot any opportunities for ways you could shift your career in the direction of these new trends?
Finding Opportunities in the Marketplace
Despite increasing unemployment, there are a many fields that are actually struggling to find qualified job candidates.
One survey through Careerbuilder of HR deferments found that the biggest challenge is finding people with the right skills and that 45% of them have open positions due to inability to find qualified people.
Some of the areas that have been predicted to experience growth include:
- healthcare providers (like nurses)
- professionals such as engineers, scientists, accountants, and analysts
- IT professionals and other technology specialists
- managers and executives
- those whose work cannot easily be replaced by machines, such as educators, especially in emerging economies with young populations
- creatives, artists, performers, and entertainers who will be in demand as rising incomes globally create more demand for leisure and recreation
- builders and related professions, particularly in infrastructure
- manual and service jobs in unpredictable environments, such as home-health aides and gardeners
Of course this is just a general assessment based on a variety of reports available at this time. This list will continue to evolve, but what is most important is that you say up to date on changes that are impacting or will impact your industry. Keep your eyes out for those gaps and prepare yourself to fill them.
One way you can adapt in order to take advantage of new opportunities is to learn new relevant skills. Like we mentioned, there are many new skills in high demand and not a lot of people to fill the positions. And the good news – which we talk about more in another video – is that the education or training you need to pivot your career in a new direction is available at your fingertips, on your time, and at a cost you can afford.
This is not meant to cause alarm, it’s meant to inspire you to look to the future and know that there is a world of opportunity on the horizon.
Prepare for your future career!
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If you’re interested in learning more, we highly recommend reading the books Disrupt You! By Jay Samit and Bold by Peter Diamandis.
Resources for further reading: