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Where the Jobs Will be in
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There are no new jobs to be had in the new economy. At least no new jobs that go by the traditional “nine-to-six with guaranteed annual pay hikes, medical policies, and superannuation benefits” norms. The contours of professions will be increasingly molded by the immutable forces prevalent in the new world order. Forces underpinned by hypnotic socio-economic trends that have steadily built up in the past decade or so.
One of the most telling socio-economic events of the decade with profound social impact has been the collapse of the housing industry and credit markets in the developed economies, setting off a macroeconomic chain of events culminating in the global recession of 2008 and 2009. In many economies, real estate has depreciated by over 10 percent a year since 2007, and is projected to fall between 0.5 and 1.5 percent on average over the next five years. Countries such as Spain and Ireland have seen severe contraction in construction output and employment. Real estate prices in Germany and Japan have been depressed for long now. In the US and the UK, tax measures have failed to arrest the correction in house prices towards fundamentals. Delinquency rates on commercial mortgage-backed-securities have peaked to record highs. 2.3 million homes in the US are already in foreclosure, with 3.3 million more at risk and an additional 5 million saddled with underwater mortgages. $566 billion in commercial real estate debt in the US will mature in 2010 and 2011 while the UK will see around £160 billion mature between 2010 and 2015. Rebounding real estate markets in the Asia-Pacific region and Canada have been dampened by policy responses to concerns of over-heating. Clearly, the housing sector worldwide is going nowhere in a hurry.
This seemingly scorched landscape throws up an entire collage of fresh green shoots in terms of opportunities. Manpower skilled in mortgage services will increasingly be in demand to cater to the valuation, credit risk assessment, debt restructuring, refinancing, component services and collection requirements that are poised to explode. Fund management skills will be much sought after in investment fraternities targeting emerging economies. Within the emerging economies themselves, given the latent need for low cost housing at scale, there is an untapped potential to provide lease management and on-demand house repair services including project management, masonry, plumbing and electrical work. Consequently, graduates and skilled workers who would have hitherto been unemployed now find themselves at the cusp of better times.
A second sector that has emerged as one of the predominant themes in this decade is energy. Growth in emerging economies is purported to fuel a sustained upturn in commodity demand growth. China, for example, has rapidly increased its share of global commodity demand, its oil demand spurting by 14 percent in the first half of 2010. Half the production increases to meet the global oil demand growth has come from non-OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) nations. Upstream investment projects worldwide are poised to inject a 1 percent per year expansion in production. Consequently, petroleum engineering, drilling, oil extraction and recovery will require incremental staffing to support cranked up production schedules. Entrepreneurial focus on renewable energy ventures should create additional job opportunities.
The shale gas revolution across the US, Canada, Argentina, India, China, UK, Germany, Poland, Sweden, and Australia promises to catapult natural gas into the big league of energy markets as a competitive primary source. Technology advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal completions, and infrastructure requirements in the form of pipelines, rigs and service companies dictate proportionate intake of human resources and widespread spawning of energy consultants. With energy prices recovering faster than corn prices, several large US ethanol producers are back in business, signaling healthy growth trajectories for bio fuel production and increased employability of personnel qualified to man these facilities. Focus on reduced carbon footprint of corporates, communities and ecosystems will witness the genesis and evolution, on a global scale, of two rarefied breeds: carbon consultants and compliance specialists.
Cloud computing and crowd sourcing:
The third of these overarching socioeconomic phenomena is actually an amalgamation of two identical and disruptive developments that need no introduction. Cloud computing and crowd sourcing. Today the internet connects customers, corporations and individuals. The imaginable tomorrow sees the internet becoming the corporation. Cloud computing and crowd sourcing represent two irrepressible forces accelerating the possibility of this tomorrow. Both bring in agility, cost effectiveness, location independence, scalability and solution optimization to business models while requiring no ownership of the assets that produce the services or solutions. While one harnesses “unowned” computing assets to provide business enablers, the other derives from the creativity of “unowned” human capital to solve business problems requiring intelligence.
Looking forward, cloud computing will spawn progressively higher demand for skills in research, network architecture, and software engineering for API (Application Programming Interface) development and data security in traditional IT powerhouses such as the US, India, Russia, Israel, China, Western Europe and Canada, while countries such as Finland, Sweden and Switzerland can additionally look forward to a deluge of server farm installations owing to their favorable climatic conditions, thereby creating demand for data center management professionals. On the other hand, crowd sourcing opens up, in particular, creative requirements to all who can and should get a shot. This translates to more opportunities for ad professionals, marketing whiz kids, copy writers, content developers, commercial artists, gaming and animation experts, translators and communication specialists. Combined with cloud computing solutions, it delivers creative power to the doorstep of the individual. A freelance web designer, for example, can employ an Adobe SaaS solution to execute a digital branding proof-of-concept and ably compete with large firms. A small boutique marketing firm will be able to bid for lead generation projects with an Oracle CRM On-Demand deployment at much lower operating costs as opposed to outright purchase of a CRM suite license. Innovation begins where asset ownership ends.
Exponential proliferation of digital storage technology, data transmission and processing speeds completes the quartet of predominant trends of the decade. With computing speeds doubling every two years, hard disk storage costs halving every two years and optical network capacities doubling every nine months, it requires a quantum jump in prevalent technology every now and then to sustain these breakneck progressions. Wavelength division multiplexing, for instance, improved the capacity of a single optical fiber by a factor of 100. However, these quantum jumps and the exponential improvements come at a cost to the producers of such innovation – R&D, manufacturing and testing effort that has only increased steadily and will continue to increase with each new generation of technology. Correspondingly, this will necessitate more and more brainpower for semiconductor research, VLSI design, network engineering, standards and protocols formulation, memory management technology, screen technology and allied domains.
The caveat to this apparent abundance of job opportunities is that hiring decisions are going to be more deliberated over than ever before. Corporations have not forgotten the hurt caused by going into the recent global meltdown with excessive redundancies or unduly narrow role definitions. The days of the single-play specialist may well be over, at least in the foreseeable future. One may need to wear multiple hats and wear all of them well – this may become the order of the day rather than a luxury. Compensation packages may well become more dynamic and less predictable. The jobs of tomorrow will belong to those who adapt best to these new times and newer expectations where currency is the new normal.
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Chillibreeze's disclaimer: This is a contributed article and was published on Chillibreeze in January, 2011. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views of Chillibreeze as a company. Chillibreeze has a strict anti-plagiarism policy. Please contact us to report any copyright issues related to this article. The relevance of the facts and figures cited (if any) could change after a period of time.
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—About our writer:
"Hemanth holds an MBA in Strategy and Marketing from IIM Calcutta and is a Certified Advance Finance professional, with over 10 years of experience in business strategy, strategic finance, communication and consulting. He works for a multinational firm and is based in Bangalore. His writing has straddled business, finance, marketing, economy and occasionally current affairs. He has experience in writing articles, business blogs, web content, marketing collateral, ad copy, case studies and newsletters."
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