Best of CoBiz: Jobs for the future

I enjoy reading Tom Frey’s articles on jobs for the future. As usual, I’m sure he’s right on some things and not on others, but that is the fate of all prophets. Most people, though, are focused on their immediate future. Here is my take on the jobs winners and losers for the next 10 years.


1). Health care. Realistically, even with all the frothing at the mouth by the right, the Affordable Patient Care Act (Obamacare) is NOT going to be repealed or even altered very much. Most Americans like most of the provisions. This means that millions of previously uninsured people will be dumped on a health care system that already does not train enough medical personnel. Think of it, health care workers (including doctors and, especially, nurses), as job security.

2). Medical devices. Not only is the Affordable Patient Care Act here, but so is old age for a bunch of us. And many of us have sports injuries that will cause problems as we age. Need a new hip? No problem! Medical device personnel also have pretty much guaranteed job security.

3). Alternative Energy. Even with “drill, baby, drill” we’ll run out of fossil fuels. In fact, many credible scientists say that this is already happening (here is more on that). All of the easy drilling sites have been used. It will take more time, energy and money to get oil out of the ground. So, alternative energy has a future. People will still want to drive and heat their homes.

4). Oil and Gas. As great as alternative energy is, it won’t fully replace oil until all of the oil is gone. So, for the next 10 years, look to O&G to be a rich field for jobs, especially as gasoline reaches $10 a gallon. But beware. The extraction system called “fracking” will almost certainly be banned in many states, if not federally. Stay away from the fracking industry, and look at more traditional companies that don’t obtain their oil through this controversial and environmentally damaging method.

5). Technology. We are in the middle of a tech boom. Those with skills with technology, especially the newest technologies, will not be hitting the unemployment lines. In fact, in some areas of technology they are still giving signing bonuses because they have twice the jobs available as qualified workers. Find out the technology trends and what is “hot,” and get yourself trained in one of those fields.

6). Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals. Biotech goes hand in hand with my comments on health care and medical devices. This also goes for pharmaceuticals. The U.S. is one of the very few countries that barely regulates pharmaceutical prices. Look for this to change in a few years, but, for right now, their lobby is strong and so are their balance sheets.

7). Temporary and contract workers. Companies are increasingly going to a flexible labor force. This means more people will be working short-term temporary assignments rather than full time jobs.


1). Manual Labor. While there will always be a need for plumbers and carpenters, the day of the well-paid assembly line worker are long over. Unions or no, robots will replace almost all assembly line workers. As robots become more versatile, look for most unskilled labor jobs to go away. And this isn’t the far future. This is reality now.

2). Social services. As governments and insurance companies cut support for mental health care, you’ll see two things. 1). More homelessness (as many of the homeless are mentally ill). And 2). A glut of psychologists, social workers, psychotherapists, and so on.

3). The military. While we’ll always need a military, we just can’t afford “boots on the ground” in half the world anymore. Technology, again, will increasingly replace the “grunt.”

4). Management. Even executives are being cut. Management has been thinning out for years. Expect this to continue.

Expect salaries of all but the top executives to get smaller. Expect income inequality to grow. If you are able, seek retraining in a winning field. Next week, the things that America needs to do now to prevent permanent unemployment.