10 economic trends that can drive career choice

A prominent topic in the career development field, and indeed in the popular culture, are the “hottest careers of the year.” You know the headlines: “Hottest Careers of 2012,” “Coolest Jobs for Today’s College Grads” and “Present-Day Must-Have Careers.”These make for interesting reading, but they don’t represent a best practice approach for choosing careers to begin or to transition into. By the time someone gathers the training and education to move into a “hot career,” chances are that it might have become lukewarm in the meantime.I think a better approach in determining careers that may have some significant employment longevity comes from identifying longer-term economic trends. Although the pace of change is accelerating in the world of work, as it is around the globe in general, there are some directional swings that appear to be long lasting, if not fundamental, for the foreseeable future.Separating flavor-of-the month crazes from structural underlying movements can result in higher-quality career decision-making. If you are going to invest lots of time and money in preparing for a career, it’s reasonable to expect some return for your efforts.Marrying individual talents with macro changes in the economy can lead to a higher degree of employment sustainability in an otherwise fluid and fickle world.But reader beware — I don’t tell you how to convert these trends into careers for each of you individually. Without inventive and visionary thinking on your part, dovetailing your skill set and education into these sweeping changes won’t magically happen on its own.Careers with potentialJust as there are many jobs today that didn’t exist 10 years ago, there will be many niches 10 years from now that aren’t present today. Although not intended to be an exhaustive listing, what follows are 10 economic and social trends that I see as having great potential for driving career creation:• Aging population and caregiving: The ubiquitous baby boomers are now retiring, or will be soon, at a rapid rate. Health care is obviously to be impacted, but so are industries that can take advantage of relatively high disposable income coinciding with material downsizing.• Growing Latinization: The language and cultural influences of southern Europe are catching up with those of northern and central Europe in America. The melting pot is developing a distinctly Latin flavor that will affect industries across the board.• Workplace cost controls and data-driven decision-making: Getting smarter with information was beginning before the recession and has now become a field in and of itself. Opportunities abound for those who can elevate efficiencies through sophisticated means of analyzing and drawing cost-saving conclusions from data.• Globalization: Economic interconnectedness already affects our daily lives and will become only further intertwined as sovereign economies morph into new and different multinational configurations. Goods and services competing on a more global scale will require nimble, flexible, and intelligent business practices.• Wireless, mobile and cloud computing: There are no signs of technology reaching a plateau. On the contrary, the speed of innovation and the integration of new functional utilities appears limitless.• War on terror: Unfortunately, war in the 21st century may be endless. Terrorism will ebb and flow and violent conflict is now more at a citizen-vs.-citizen level rather than at a nation-state level. Security and international relations will continue to be in a heightened state.• Organic food industry: Healthy eating at an affordable price from foods grown locally is likely to continue expanding. Sustainable and high-quality agriculture is becoming increasingly valuable to more and more consumers.• Audiology: We are bombarded with sound continuously. And we have very effective means of shooting it into our ears. Tell me this isn’t going to affect the hearing of an aging noise-saturated population.• Simulation engineering and robotics: Training, education and gaming are just three activities that will benefit from more refined means of simulation. Resource, time and cost savings will arise from greater use of fabricated experiences that leave end-users with an enhanced empiricism.• Genetics in health care: A revolution is in its infancy with molecule-specific treatment of disease and super-informed healthful advice. Ancillary industries resulting from knowledge of the human condition at a cellular or deeper level is boundless.Long-term job seekers, start your engines!Bill Ryan, founder of Ryan Career Services LLC, Concord, also is a regular blogger on the NHBR Network. He can be reached at 603-724-2289 or bill@ryancareerservices.com.