Taking a close look at the current and future state of careers is a good idea, whether you’re just starting college and trying to pick out a major, or you’re already ensconced in a job and contemplating the long-term possibilities. If the industry you choose to work in is not one that will be in great demand in the future, then you may find that path at a dead-end, with high levels of competition, low pay, and no long-term prospects. Finding the right fit for your skills, personality, interest and experience can take a lot of trial-and-error—so do your research before committing. Otherwise, you may finally find the ideal position and then find yourself out of a career when the entire field loses relevance.
For example, if you were planning on a becoming a journalist, think again. Ranked the worst out of 200 jobs in the United States, a newspaper reporter is a position that offers low pay and almost no future. On the other hand, if you enjoy working with numbers or science, there are quite a few career options for you to consider. Take a look at this infographic by Cedar Education Lending before making a decision on your major or career of choice.
This infographic was created by Marcela De Vivo, founder of Gryffin Media, in cooperation with Cedar Ed Lending. See something that interests you? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Last week I led a webinar on behalf of FastCo Exist, the website of Fast Company where I am one of several resident future thinkers in their Future Forum. We had about 150 people tune in from around the world as I discussed the future of work and jobs. We’ve been addressing both the future of work, and jobs of the future in recent blog posts. Several people in the webinar asked for my slides, and here you go.
Where will future jobs come from? There are few questions that I get asked more than this one. It is becoming generally accepted that the fall off in jobs that came with the great recession in the States and the age of austerity in Europe, may not come back, at least not in the same numbers and at the same quality and pay. People going back to work as the recession has wound down have often ended up in jobs that pay less and are lower level than the job they lost. Is this the future?
I personally recall two other times, after the recessions of the early 1980’s and the early 1990’s when the conventional wisdom was that we had entered a new era of jobless growth. Each of those times the conventional wisdom was wrong, and new inventions, new economic opportunities and an expanding global economy eventually produced huge numbers of new, good jobs. Still, might this be the time that the prediction of a jobless future comes true?
I do not think so. I believe that history is more likely to repeat itself and produce unprecedented levels of employment in the coming two decades. But I use the term employment carefully, because I do think that the nature of work is changing, a lot. Define a job as going to work for someone else, doing work you are largely instructed to do, for a given time each day and each week, in a position that is going to last for many years, in exchange for which you receive “security” in the form of pay and health care and retirement benefits. That world is indeed disappearing. What is different looking ahead is that employment will be more individualized, more stint-based, more oriented toward entrepreneurship and solopreneurs, and in most cases require an up-skilling of more of the workforce.
This requires a re-thinking of many things. Jay Ackroyd points out that the required re-thinking is broad in scope:
If we’re entering a world of job-shifting entrepreneurship, with high-risk/high-reward opportunities for the talented and diligent,* then we need a government that provides a foundation for that world. That means not just a really solid set of social insurance programs independent of people’s jobs, like health care and pensions, but also a stronger basic infrastructure.
Pull optical fiber to every post office and set up public wireless. Give everyone a bank account at the Fed. Restore access to inexpensive higher education. Stop the copyright and patent madness. The best public policy in Tommy’s [Thomas Friedman] world would eliminate the parasitic monopolists choking off innovation and opportunity.
We are not there yet, but should go there. Interestingly one of the institutions focusing on jobs is the Federal Reserve Bank of the U.S. They have been charged with a mission by their directors to help the nation focus on how to develop the workforce of the future. To that end one the things they have been doing is to sponsor and host conferences on future workforce training. I’ve had the opportunity to provide keynote speeches to two of them, last Fall in Kansas City, and in January of 2013 in Atlanta. The latter was a special gathering of the Presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. That program was not recorded, but the earlier event in Kansas City was video recorded, and highlight videos were produced. You can see several of them here.
My keynote speech that kicked off that conference was excerpted in the video below. Fast forward to the 7:50 mark if you want to see what I had to say about the digital native generation and the knowledge value economy and what they mean for the future of work.
Here in the U.S. it is an article of faith that the economy is driven by entrepreneurs – job creators in the current political parlance. And there is no question that the U.S. maintains an entrepreneurial culture.
But, something is happening that may represent an emergent trend. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrates that the years 1993 to 2001 were peak years in the creation of new companies. It is not surprising that new company “births” fell off after the dot com bust in 2000, increased a bit in 2004-2006, the peak of the debt bubble, and then fell off a cliff with the arrival of the recession in 2007. The fall off in new company formations is the steepest in the history of this data series. At the same time, company deaths kept climbing.
But that is not the emergent trend that I see. Deeper in the BLS report is news that new companies are not hiring as many people. This may reflect only the lack of demand in the current economy. But I suspect something more is going on. The kinds of new companies being created now in the information space simply require fewer people to accomplish the same amount of work as a few years ago. Many other enterprises, like event management, are not info tech businesses directly but still rely heavily on information jobs. They too can accomplish more with fewer people.
I wonder if we we’ll ever see an info tech company again that grows as large as a Microsoft in number of employees?
It seems today that we are entering a permanently different, and maybe more frugal, approach to economy. In this video I pose questions about the future status of national and global economy, and also about the changing nature of jobs in terms of availability and longevity. I have lived through enough recessions now, and enough warnings that this time we will see a “jobless recover” to be careful about making that forecast again. But, as with many forecasts, at some point they often become correct. Replacement of work with technology along with the continuing integration of the global, as compared to local, workforce are causing chaos in regular assumptions about jobs. Of course, the flood of cutting government jobs at this time is part of the picture as well. But, ultimately when the economy finally returns to “normal” whatever that is, I do think we will be in a different job’s landscape than we’ve seen before.
Writers at the Economist and CNN are wondering about the future of jobs as well.