Fifty years ago, who would have thought computers, the Internet and the endless advancement of technology would have such an impact on what workers do today and how they do it? Finding a career in one of the emerging industries is essential for professional success.
What emerging industries are growing at a rapid pace? Which sectors of the economy will have the next spurts in job growth? And most importantly, how can professionals find a career field that will last their lifetime?
The Future of the Workforce
In more ways than one, the U.S. workforce is shifting and evolving. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) regularly makes projections and offers estimates for numerous occupations through 2024. Labor shifts are a good indicator of the emerging industries of tomorrow.
The BLS reports that the biggest shifts in jobs are happening in the health care, business services and construction industries. Those three industries alone will represent more than half of the 20.5 million new jobs created by 2020.
One of the most important drivers of the economy is education attainment. For example, the health care industry includes occupations like nursing that require a college education. Employers will continue to look for candidates with higher education, and the number of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree must rise.
The U.S. government is committed to helping workers move toward the growing sectors of the economy. The Department of Labor has several workforce initiatives underway to help the unemployed and those in search of new careers get the training they need to secure jobs. The Skills to Build America’s Future initiative is committed to attracting skilled workers to address current and future shortages in the construction industry. In 2015, President Obama launched TechHire, an initiative focused on giving Americans the education needed to attain well-paying technology jobs. Initiatives like these will help lead the way for individuals to find their way to in-demand fields.
Biotechnology and Health Care
In countless ways, health care is seeing tremendous growth and change. Much of this can be attributed to new technology, whether it’s the ease of access to medical data or advances in medicine. Much can also be attributed to the increase in Americans with health insurance resulting from the Affordable Care Act, as well as the rising demand for health care treatment from aging baby boomers.
Over the past few years, the biggest advancement in medicine has been the replacement of paper charts with electronic health records. This process, known as health informatics, has made health care tasks much easier to complete online. Making health care processes digital is one reason more Americans are receiving preventative care. Doctors have more data about patients to aid in their understanding of their overall well-being.
In addition, researchers are making strides in the field of biotechnology. There’s continued progress being made in the use of robots in the treatment process. 3-D printing offers doctors exciting options, including the possible creation of cheaper prosthetics and replacement organs.
Few companies have done more for the health informatics revolution than Epic Systems. Hospitals that use its software hold the electronic health records of 54 percent of U.S. patients. The company offers an integrated suite of health care software that manages patient care including registration, emergency personnel, laboratory management and billing. Epic’s platform allows for sharing data among staffers, doctors and hospitals. The company will continue to be on the forefront of health informatics and the sharing of pertinent medical data.
In biotechnology, Biogen is one of the biggest names. The Massachusetts-based company specializes in the discovery, development and delivery of treatments for neurological, hematologic and autoimmune diseases. The company has been named the biotechnology industry leader by the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index in 2014 and 2015, and it is among the top green companies in the world.
As U.S. officials continue to push for decreased dependence on fossil fuels, more and more government funding is going toward renewable energy. A report from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance in 2015 found that the government spent more than $150 billion on renewable energy projects over the past five years. This number will only go up in future years.
According to CNN, the number of jobs in solar energy has doubled in just five years. There are actually more people working in solar energy than at oil rigs and gas fields. The solar industry saw wages rise 5 percent from a year ago; this is double the national average of 2.5 percent. Solar jobs are becoming some of the most attractive in the energy sector.
With solar panels becoming cheaper and cheaper, they’re becoming a realistic option for both commercial and residential use. More and more Americans will adopt the technology to supplement their traditional energy sources.
The industry around electric cars is continuing to grow at a rapid rate, with total revenue for battery suppliers across the globe hitting $2.17 billion in 2014, according to the German Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research. The United States alone saw a growth rate of 69 percent in 2014, the highest rate in the world.
Several companies are leading the way toward the future of electric cars. Tesla Motors is among the industry leaders and is continuing to develop new models for production. The company has one factory in California and a “Gigafactory” in Nevada that will employ more than 6,500 people. Tesla’s leadership has inspired both traditional automakers (GM, Toyota and Ford) and startups (Faraday Future) to make a bigger investment into electric cars.
The Internet of Things
Nowadays it feels like every product is becoming “smart,” or connected to the Internet. From thermostats to refrigerators, this advancement is often called the “Internet of Things” (IoT). Simply put, the goal is to increase connectivity to improve efficiency. According to PwC, 54 percent of the economy’s top performers are investing in the sensor technology behind the IoT. It is only beginning to grow in understanding and popularity, but the IoT should become much more common very soon. Related to the IoT is the rise of the sharing economy, an economic model that allows individuals to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else. The leaders of the sharing economy, Uber and Airbnb, are changing the way people do business.
The Smart Home
Most people understand the IoT thanks to products like the Nest thermostat and Philips Hue lightbulbs. These products can often be controlled via smartphone apps or laptops. They also use data to understand when they will be most efficient. The Nest automatically knows when to turn off air conditioning to save money. These products will greatly affect how we live. As more companies begin to make more “smart” products, they will need programmers and engineers who understand this cutting-edge technology.
The Smart Workplace
Take the concept of the smart home and apply it to the workplace. This is what’s next for the IoT, as more and more companies find new ways to collect data and improve efficiency. Industrial occupations will benefit from smart integrations and workers will be able to better understand what’s happening with machines. Companies like Honeywell are using sensors to keep better tabs on the security and control of machines and relaying that information to engineers. Expect this kind of data collection to continue to be a trend throughout workplaces.
Looking Far Into the Future
The health care, energy and technology industries will drive much of the economy in the immediate future, and there are even more advancements in the pipeline. Some are in many ways still theoretical and sound like they’re straight out of a science fiction novel.
Known as the manipulation of matter on a molecular level, nanotechnology is already having some effects on a wide variety of industries. Consumer electronics companies are currently using nanotechnology to make smaller and smaller hardware for their devices.
Medical researchers have been studying nanotechnology for years and its market application could be massive. The National Science Foundation reported that revenue from nano-enabled products already reached $1 trillion worldwide in 2013. With a long list of possible applications, the growth of the nanotechnology industry has only begun to touch its potential.
Imagine being able to take a bottle of liquid and turn it into any form you please. That’s the end goal of researchers investigating programmable matter. These capabilities could have a massive impact on daily life and invent an entirely new industry. Programmable matter is essentially the Internet of Things on steroids, with an object built by countless smaller smart building blocks that can be changed at will. Researchers are exploring the idea, but its real application is probably a long way off.
Using technology to enhance the human body may sound crazy, but it is already a reality for some. Human augmentation won’t be like a cyborg movie, although it could involve similar principles. In the future, implants may replace hearing aids, for example. As with most future technologies, the applications could be endless. But don’t expect a Robocop anytime soon.
Understanding the Industries of the Future
A business professional with a strong foundation of education and experience can capitalize on these trends. At Point Park University, students gain the tools and skills they need to succeed and excel in the evolving workplace. With our commitment to developing dynamic business leaders combined with the flexibility of an online classroom, you can take your career to the next level and maintain your personal commitments. Learn how our online Bachelor of Science in Business Management or online MBA can help you advance your career today.