Preparing for the future job market

A job seeker listens to a potential employer at a career fair in Denver, Colo.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

TESS VIGELAND: So if you're either out of a job or in a job that may be scarce down the line, you need to prepare for the future. That may mean a return to school or simply deciding on something else you'd like to do. As part of our weeklong series "The Future of Jobs," Adriene Hill of the Marketplace Sustainability Desk joins us. Hi Adriene.

ADRIENE HILL: Hi Tess.

VIGELAND: So when we talk about the jobs of the future, how far out are we looking at this point?

HILL: Well not that far. A decade away maybe. But a lot is already changed and in the process of changing.

VIGELAND: So for the folks who are out of work, maybe college students considering a career, where should they start looking?

HILL: Well there are three big areas. Health care is going to have tons of jobs in the future as baby boomers just need more health care. These are jobs that can work for young people and for career shifters. There will be jobs inspired by new technology and scientific advancements, the sort of gee whiz jobs. And then service jobs are expected to grow, especially work that isn't easily replaced by a computer sent offshore.

VIGELAND: Um, like radio hosts?

HILL: Radio hosts, I think, are no computers.

VIGELAND: No computers. It is a gee whiz job though, isn't it?

HILL: It is.

VIGELAND: All right. So good jobs are coming back. We can all rest easy it sounds like?

HILL: No, sorry. Not yet. Some careers and fields will add jobs. But a lot of the middle-class jobs we have now are going to be squeezed out for good. Production and manufacturing jobs, for example, paid well but have been and are going to keep disappearing. And some economists think we're going to end up with sort of an hourglass-shaped economy. The good jobs at the high and low end, and not a lot in the middle.

VIGELAND: So how does someone currently in a job, or looking for a job, wind up at the top of the hourglass?

HILL: Where we all want to be, right?

VIGELAND: Exactly.

HILL: Education, adaptability, and more education. Opportunities will be really good for people who have specialized skills, who are good communicators and problem solvers, but you're going to need at least a college degree. And in today's job market and the job market of the future, you're going to have to be super flexible. Add to your skills sets, the list of things you're willing to do at work, because if you aren't somebody else will be.

VIGELAND: That sounds kind of intense.

HILL: Yeah. You might want to think about some other skills than hosting, Tess, maybe singing, the little music breaks?

VIGELAND: Oh, I think we'll spare everyone that. But really, what does this mean? How do job seekers, those of us with work, prepare for that future?

HILL: Well, I think the job market we have now is a job market that requires a lot of thought and planning and just forward looking. I mean, it's been the case for a while that people don't join up wit ha company and work with that company forever. Now we move in transition. And I think now and in the future we're going to have think harder and earlier about what those transitions are going to be and how we sort of want to get to that next job. My guess is that a lot more of us are going to wind up taking extra classes, improving and learning new skills. And the bottom line: It's going to be super-duper competitive. The best-trained people are going to be the people who win.

VIGELAND: All right. Thanks Adriene. Now, we were talking earlier and you've built a web tool to help folks navigate the jobs of the future?

HILL: Sure did. We've created what we're calling the Future-Jobs-O-Matic. Gee whizzy, huh?

VIGELAND: I like it.

HILL: Which has a future of more than 250 careers.

VIGELAND: Including radio?

HILL: Well, including reporters. Don't ask it's bad.

VIGELAND: Oh no. Adriene Hill with our Sustainability Desk, thanks so much.

HILL: Thank you, Tess.

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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