Watching KC and The Sunshine Band performing on American Idol on TV tonight and I realized I know that tune is telling me how time flies. I was in my early 20s when this song was on the top of pop chart. I remember how limited then in terms of career choices. They were medicine, law and accounting. Oh yes and rock stars. I hated all those three. Thinking the last 30 years we have progressed a lot, think about the fact that computer technologies and many other social technologies having been moving so fast that we sometimes have to invent "artful analogies" just to "comprehend the ... speed" of change. Unfortunately education has not advanced as far and as fast as the computer. Same thing can be said about corporate social responsibility, imagine what our societies would be like if it has advanced 20X.
This front page newspaper headline caught my attention. "Teaching, health care, finance and innovation sectors facing demand that can only grow...." First time I've seen "Innovation" being used as a career description. Interesting but a good sign. But I sill don't know what jobs it was referring to.
It is a terrible time for those who will be graduating from school this year and looking for jobs. The short-term pain aside, people need to rethink their career plan as we are anticipating another structural shift in our economy. Many of today’s jobs will not return and many will be shipped offshore. Many of the jobs that were in high demand will begin to diminish and new job categories will emerge. For young people, choosing a satisfying as well as high demand career is important. Here are some tips of what to pick:
Technology job growth will start winding down and will still have high demand on certain pockets. Software engineering and system support will not be enjoying the demand it did for the last 10 years. The most widely cited estimate by Forrester predicts 3.3M service jobs will be outsourced offshore by 2015. Roughly 400,000 of these will be IT jobs. Many engineers will move to renewable energy and this has a good chance to drive a big tech wave.
Data entry, tech support and customer service jobs will start disappearing soon (even Indian will be expensive by then). Advanced technology security (not just online) will be an exception and this one will continue to grow as new threats emerge everyday. Media is another big one that goes down fast. New job categories around “everyday life automation and simplification”, that includes design and life-support services. There will also be new jobs that are responsible for lessening the impact on the environment and sustainability.
The next phase of automation will not happened in the factories (there will be no factories left), but in our homes and in our lives. We are not talking about dishwashers and VCRs, but serious automation including robotic machines (hopefully not operating on Windows) and smart homes.
What does this mean for someone just now planning their careers or deciding what schools to go to. Proximity, personal services and creativity are the key. The creative industries will flourish, as there will be more opportunities to make money from ideas and intellectual capital. Career that requires proximity such as business development will always be safe, it is all about people and connections. The service industry will take over hard goods from a GDP perspective and jobs will range from care giving to life coach etc. The trend towards a growing aging population that is living longer is already creating high demand in products and services tailored to this demographic. AARP may become a $20+ Billion organization and employing tens of thousands of people providing services to support their members.
What about marketing? It depends. If you are one of those old school marketers you have something to worry about. If you understand many of the structural changes happening and re-equip yourself with a “social” mindset to marketing (and business strategy), you future is bright. Those mediocre marketing and advertising professional that exist today will not survive this shift. The Social Marketing Officer (SMO not CMO) is one of those roles where the mediocre and slow-to-adapt don't survive. For marketers, it means that you must keep on learning new things and acquiring new skills just to keep pace with the changing demands of a "social" economy.