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You can learn a lot by observing and asking questions. But to shake things up, you have to get real ticked off about the important things that need fixing. The dangerous alternative is complacency.

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Nationwide Skills Shortage Grows Worse

Future Hot Jobs

Technology Eliminates Jobs

Another Year Soon to Bite the Dust

Vacationing in Italy, Part 4

Nationwide Skills Shortage Grows Worse

This is not breaking news either, but it’s a problem that will only grow worse. Even though there is an uptick in manufacturing jobs, most manufacturers report a severe shortage of skilled workers. Many manufacturers that have been aggressively trying to solve the problem, but it only grows worse. But it’s not the manufacturing industry that’s affected, it’s virtually every industry from health care to all building trades (carpenters, electricians, plumbers),  construction and aerospace to technology and consumer electronics, to name a few.

In the report “Boiling Point? The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing,” 82 percent of American manufacturers surveyed reported a moderate or severe shortage of high-skilled workers. About 600,000 high-skilled manufacturing positions are open. In 2012, the Boston Consulting Group released a study, “Made in America, Again: Understanding the U.S. manufacturing Skills Gap and How to Close It,” which estimated that the skills gap in the U.S. to be smaller than 600,000, still exceeds about 100,000 workers nationwide.

From 2010 through September 2012, U.S. manufacturing employment has increased by more than 500,000 jobs, as factory payrolls grew from 11.46 million to almost 12.0 million. This recent expansion in manufacturing employment has played a vital role in helping to strengthen the overall economy as it emerged from the 2009 recession.  The percentage of manufacturing workers aged 55-65 have increased  significantly since 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  Yet, each year significant numbers of senior workers retire, increasing the demand for high-skilled factory workers.

The bad news is the manufacturing skills gap is forecasted to get worse.  The Society of Manufacturing Engineers predicts that the shortfall of skilled factory workers could increase to three million jobs by 2015 because of pending retirements of older workers and a manufacturing rebound.  The BCG study forecasts a high-skills gap in manufacturing that could approach 875,000 machinists, welders, industrial engineers and industrial machinery mechanics by 2020.  The fact remains that in a 21st Century economy dependent upon advanced manufacturing methods,   highly trained skilled employees are the heart of a thriving manufacturing industry.

We’ve yet to solve this problem, and address serious issues, the most important of which is the nationwide image of vocational training, and why our educational system has failed to change and upgrade it.  Let’s hope decision makers stop skirting this problem, and find answers in 2015.

Posted on: November 30, 2014 08:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Future Hot Jobs

As I said in my last blog, just as technology as eliminated many jobs, it has also created hundreds of new ones.  Analysts at research firm IDC predict that the amount of data organizations will be able to access will grow 50-fold over the next decade. IDC analysts said that as data becomes faster and more pervasive, existing jobs specifications will change and new will be created to adjust to new functions.  Along with new jobs, many of today’s jobs will be morphed into new ones.

Approximately 60 percent of the jobs in 2024 haven’t been invented yet, according to IDC researchers.

Based upon the above changes and others in mainstream industries, hundreds of new jobs will be created.

Below are eight jobs of the future, taken from website FuturistSpeaker.com. Many of the jobs will be created within the next decade.

1.      Seed capitalists.   In the startup business world there is a huge gulf between initial concept and fundable prototypes. This dearth of funding options will require an entirely new profession. Seed capitalists will specialize in high-risk startups. Counter to today’s investment-world thinking, if they get more than a 100 percent return on their investments, they will be docked for not taking enough risk.

2.      Waste data managers. To insure data integrity in today’s fast evolving information storage industry; multiple redundancies have been built into the system. Achieving more streamline data storage in the future will require specialists who can rid data centers of needless copies and frivolous clutter.

3.      Urban agriculturalists.Why ship food around the world when it can be grown next door? Next generation produce-growing operations will be located underground, often below the grocery stores where the produce will be sold directly to customers. 

4.      Octogenarian service providers.As the population continues to age, we will have record numbers of people living into their 80s, 90s, and 100s. This mushrooming group of active oldsters will provide a demand for goods and services currently not being addressed in today’s marketplace.

5.      Nano-medics.The medical problems most people have can be traced to a single cell or a small group of them. Health professionals capable of working on the nano-level—both in designing diagnostics systems, remedies, and monitoring solutions—will be in high demand.

6.      Competition producers. One of the hottest new trends will be to design incentive-based competitions to solve some of the world’s problems. Paving the way has been XPRIZE Foundation’s Pete Diamandis and the success of the Ansari X Prize. In the future, every major corporation will have their name on a major prize competition.

7.      3D printing engineers.Classes in 3D printing are already being introduced into high schools and the demand for printer-produced products will skyrocket. The trend will be for these workerless workshops to enter virtually every field of manufacturing, stemming the tide of outsourcing, at the same time, driving the need for competent technicians and engineers to design and maintain the next wave of this technology.

8.      Book-to-app converters.   We will soon see a form of competition brewing between books and apps. With both being information products that we interface with differently, we will begin to see a large-scale effort to convert existing books and literature into an interactive app, similar to the current effort to convert popular literature from print to audio books.

Posted on: November 30, 2014 08:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Technology Eliminates Jobs

It’s old news that technology has eliminated many jobs. In technology’s early years, jobs were eliminated faster than new ones were created.  But I’d be hard pressed to say that it is still happening. I’ve never been able to get my hands around the depth and impact of that transition from the manual and post-industrial era to a technology-centric world where many jobs were created by technical ingenuity.

Robots, for example, are commonplace in factories. I’d guess that virtually every major car-maker’s assembly line depends upon robots to do most of the heavy lifting and grunt work.  Over the past half decade, they’re being used by small manufacturers throughout the U.S.  We have a long way to go before manufacturing is once again our foundation industry. But it is making a comeback, and the movement to boost manufacturing and to make “Made in America,” the gold standard is not to be discounted.

Without question technological innovation has made its mark in transforming banking, back-office operations, call centers, travel agencies and online retailing has eliminated jobs in shopping malls through the nation. And an increasing number of utilities are replacing meter readers with digital meters that are programmed to collect information, generate utility bills, and even send alerts if there are power outages.

Another interesting twist that’s happened fairly rapidly was the adoption and acceptance of self-service. Many large retail, food, and home-supply chains are replacing humans at checkout counters with self-service computers.  In some stores, many customers are upset and frustrated when they can’t find human beings to check them out and tally their bills. It’s a matter of habit. A computer does it faster, but pre- and older baby boomers feel more secure knowing a human being is overseeing the checkout process. They don’t realize or refuse to believe that computers are less likely to make errors.  A 2013 report from the Oxford Martin School’s Program on the Impacts of Future Technology concluded that 45 percent of American jobs are at high risk of being taken over by computers within the next two decades. The report said the change will take place in two stages.  During the first stage, computers will start replacing people in highly vulnerable fields such as transportation/logistics, production labor and administrative support.   Many sales, services and construction jobs may also be lost.  Next, the rate of replacement will slow because of problems with harder-to-automate fields like engineering. Then a second wave of computerization, which depends upon perfected artificial intelligence solutions, will take place. This could potentially eliminate jobs in management, science and engineering, and even the arts.

How fast will the above take place? While techie pundits and think-tank gurus say it’s just around the corner, I’m not sure where that corner is.   While many of the above changes have or are in the process of taking place, many won’t take place for several years because they’re difficult to implement. What new jobs are on the horizon? My next blog will list many of them.

Posted on: November 30, 2014 08:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Another Year Soon to Bite the Dust

With the holiday season underway, and the New Year in spitting distance, this is the time to think about the past and present; the significant events of 2014; and what’s ahead for 2015.

I’m going to try and do the impossible and present both subjective and objective viewpoints.  Not easy, but as a blogger and reporter, I can pull it off.  I’ll put my reporter’s hat on when presenting facts, statistics and quoting surveys and studies; and then slip my blogger’s hat on when editorializing and presenting Bob Weinstein’s viewpoint.   I can’t lose.  Forgive me, if I sling some psychobabble around. If the psychologist and consultants can do it, why can’t I. The only thing missing are shrink credentials such as a doctorate or a master’s in social work.  But don’t knock real world experience. Reporters get that as soon as they start covering a beat. And I’ve had more quite a few.  Not by design or master plan, but by sheer accident, luck, randomness or whatever explanation resonates.  I wouldn’t hang the events of my life on fate. That sounds too mysterious and incomprehensible. I’ll stay clear of finding spiritual roots for the successes and failures of my life. I feel more comfortable finding tangible, provable reasons to make a point. It’s not because I’m not a spiritual person—which is difficult to define—or because I’m an atheist, agnostic, nihilist, or oddball disbeliever. The point is my religious beliefs do not influence my opinions.  That’s a realistic stance, is it not? Suffice it to say, whether reporter or blogger, my goal is to back my assertions and opinions on news events that support my observations. 

Here are the issues I plan to cover over the next few blogs: The state of the economy; Events that shaped 2014; Emerging, breaking stories that will be big in 2015; and I’ll even include hot and cold jobs: Jobs that will be hot next year and the future, and jobs that are on their way out.  If there is a one powerful leitmotif impacting and influencing the present and future workplace, it’s “change”,   the complex process that improves, upgrades, revamps or scraps outmoded methods and replaces them with new and better ways of doing things. 

Since many of the big changes that took place over the past few decades were spurred by technological innovation, hundreds of jobs have gone the way of the Edsel. The flip side is technology has created many new jobs to replace them. What are they, and which ones will bite the dust? Find out in my next blog.

Posted on: November 30, 2014 08:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vacationing in Italy, Part 4

Here are some recent survey results about how Americans feel about vacations, and more upsetting, their fear of taking advantage of the vacations they’ve earned.  A survey conducted by the research firm Harris Interactive found that American employees use only 51 percent of their paid vacation time. The survey also found that 61 percent of Americans work while they’re on vacation, overriding complaints from their families. One-in-four said they were contacted by colleagues about a work issue, and one-in-five were contacted by their boss.  The survey’s analysts concluded that Americans are become more fearful about taking time off.

Another survey conducted by Harris Interactive for travel website Expedia found that Americans failed to take advantage of four vacation days within the past year, twice as many as the prior year.  That translates to more than $500 million lost vacation days a year.

The statistics are plentiful.  More important than the actual numbers is that they all come to the same conclusion.  Another study concluded that approximately 40 percent of Americans fail to take advantage of vacation time they have coming to them.  And still another one hung its conclusions around a “post-recession work-martyr complex”, which said that many workers feel as if they’re shackled to their desks, aka, their jobs.

There is no shortage of studies to cite. But they all essentially say the same thing. Americans are hung up on their jobs, so fixated that they can’t allow themselves to enjoy their lives.  They’re likely a minority, but their numbers, nevertheless, are significant.  The important point is that their obsession transcends the importance of taking of themselves, but they’re likely to say that they’re doing it for their families. And often, they use their family obligations as an excuse for their obsessive behavior about their jobs. 

I sound like a shrink.  I apologize for that. But from what I observe, we ought to think real hard about our values, and what’s important to us. Sure, our jobs and careers are important. And taking care of our loved ones is an undeniable priority. But a lot more factors play into our life equations. What are they? They’re different for everyone. But don’t you think we should find out what they are?   

Posted on: October 31, 2014 02:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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