The next 10 years will be incredibly different than from what it is right now. Even 5 years will seem like a new world. But whatever changes may come, we most certainly know that we’re going to need even more jobs to be filled than ever.
Punxsutawney Phil wasn’t the only one predicting the future Tuesday as Thomas Frey, executive director of the forward-looking DaVinci Institute, told a breakfast audience of 300 business leaders and others at Team Lorain County’s 10th annual Groundhog Day economic development breakfast that a predicted loss of 2 billion-plus jobs to automation and machines by the year 2030 doesn’t mean that many people will be out of work.
“It merely means there will be a change in the types of jobs,” Frey told the gathering at Lorain County Community College’s Spitzer Conference Center. “There are no safe industries today.”
Frey noted the speed with which industry is shifting from a physical to digital world that is, in turn, accelerating the “bell curve” nature of industries that historically move from a starting point to a peak and then decline until they disappear.
While that sounded bleak, Frey said the future promises greater opportunities in a burgeoning number of high-tech fields for people qualified and trained for those positions.
“There will be more jobs in the future than there are today,” Frey said. “The future is ours to write.”
The trick will be ensuring there is a well-qualified workforce to fill those positions, which is a major goal of a skills-based hiring system presented by the Lorain County Growth Partnership, a joint program being undertaken by LCCC and the Lorain County Joint Vocational School.
The goal of the program is to ensure that Northeast Ohio jobseekers have the skills and training to fill thousands of 21st-century jobs the unemployed or under-employed have no access to or knowledge about.
Very few employers are able to bridge the gap between workers who are skilled but may lack needed educational credentials or prior job experience typically used to screen applicants, LCCC President Roy Church said.
Employer feedback clearly indicates “it’s not that people are not ready to work. It’s ‘Are they able to work?’ ” in terms of having needed training and skills, JVS Superintendent Glenn Faircloth said.
Among the future jobs expected to be in demand are those dealing with such diverse fields as 3-D printing, drone pilots and driverless cars, according to Frey.
The number and uses of drones, which have become an increasingly bigger concern for many reasons, are expected to keep expanding.
“There will be lots and lots of drones,” Frey said in predicting up to a billion drones by 2030 to 2032.
One of the biggest uses for drones is expected to be as delivery systems for the increasing volume of goods ordered online.
Drones could also be used to respond to 911 emergencies to provide aerial images of accidents and ensuing traffic snarls and as aerial fire extinguishers to contain forest fires.
But as with any quickly growing technology, drones will also bring their share of headaches.
“You could have 50,000 drones flying over Cleveland, and there would be traffic and noise issues, as well as problems with privacy,” Frey said.
The seemingly sci-fi world of 3-D printing is another arena with seemingly limitless applications, Frey said.
Potential uses could take in the creation of food, plastics, concrete and clothing, to replicated human tissue, including skin for burn victims, and organs such as bladders, ears and kidneys.
3-D body scanners could become commonplace in clothing stores where they could develop immediate customer “wants and likes” profiles.
“It’s closer than you think,” Frey said.
During a question-and-answer session afterward, Frey was asked jokingly for his best stock tip.
“Delivery companies,” he said. “There are going to be a lot more things being delivered in the future.”