My blog post last week focused on the changing nature of the job market with particular reference to emerging careers. The flip side to this, of course, is that whilst some careers emerge, others will lose favour causing many people to panic about the future of the industries that they are working in. This raises an important point to us as advisers, and as workers. The fact is that every industry is evolving and every job, over time, will change. Rather than panic, we should focus on understanding how these industries are changing and the opportunities that these changes present.
Fact – the high street is not what it used to be. The growth of online shopping has meant that whilst there will not be so many people employed in the future as retail assistants, there will be an increased need for customer service staff to work for the internet retailers that have stepped in to replace the shops. And whilst the rise of self-service checkouts in supermarket may also contribute to the declining need for people working on the shop floor, inevitably it will also mean an increased demand in technology and engineering specialists to design and service the equipment that performs these tasks.
As more people subscribe to online newspapers and publications, print journalism may not be the area that the long-sighted careerist will choose to specialise in. However, the industry itself is still very much alive and entrants, as well as existing professionals, are wise to equip themselves with the skills needed to survive and navigate the world of digital journalism. This not only includes knowledge of the main software skills required but also specialist areas such as online security and an understanding of web analytics to ensure that articles are reaching the target audience.
Well before the end of this century it is expected that fossil fuels will be completely depleted, leaving the current oil and gas industries largely redundant. But this will be replaced by the need to develop alternative energy sources, so experts within the fields of solar, hydro, geothermal, nuclear and wind power, for example, will be much in demand. This creates opportunities not only for a whole new generation of engineers and technologists, but for the entire work force of sales staff, administrators, finance staff etc. that will need to develop as these energy sources become prominent and new companies emerge.
Undoubtedly, technology is making dramatic changes to the ways we access information. The role of the mousy librarian in the horn-rimmed glasses is certainly on the way out, but being replaced by a tech-savvy workforce who can skilfully help users navigate a paperless library. And it’s not just written information that is being affected by technological changes. Consider, for example, the current role of the dispatchers in the logistics industry, whether its taxis, couriers, ambulances or commercial vehicles. We are already seeing evidence of verbal information services being replaced by smartphone apps which are well able to do the job currently done by people.
Despite 70% agricultural land coverage and fertile soils, the UK currently produces less than 60% of the food that it needs. Recent farming crises in the UK such as BSE, swine fever and foot and mouth have had an impact on both production and export, and the industry has (understandably) had huge problems attracting a new generation of workforce as profits have been squeezed. Yet the rise in demand for organically farmed food, and the growing popularity of local farmers markets means that the industry, for the first time in a while, has reason to be cheerful, at least on a smaller scale. The organic food market is growing rapidly and tapping into this is will be essential for future success.
The travel industry is a classic example of how retail services are a dying art. High street travel agents may be being replaced with niche online booking services, but this is an industry that is changing in many other ways too. The growth of eco-tourism is providing new opportunities both abroad and at home, as travellers worry about the impact of their carbon footprint. And, at the opposite end of the scale, the not-unrealistic option of space tourism is likely to be with us sooner than we think and the opportunities there will be, quite literally, endless.
And these just are 6 random examples. For every industry and job sector will have its own story to tell of the changes it is going through. What is important to focus on is that for every occupation that becomes obsolete, there are many others waiting to step into its shoes. Showing flexibility, networking effectively, and taking advantage of training opportunities will be crucial skills in ensuring that our clients stay employable, up to date and on top of trends.