3.1   Awareness: change happens!

Economic realities have changed in the past few decades. Lifetime job security no longer exists.

Many if not most workers can expect to change jobs every three to five years and to make major career shifts three to five times in their lifetimes. Workers across the globe are having to reinvent themselves regularly to maintain their livelihoods.

Change happens: New Realities, Trends and Events.

New Realities

The role of education in the pursuit of employment is a new reality. Good paying jobs require more education and a well refined skill set than they did in years past. Many jobs that previously required a high school education now require a two or a four year degree or even a master's degree. Indeed, when President Obama gave his first speech to Congress, he said that education and training after high school is no longer desirable. It is necessary. The reality is that career success requires lifelong learning. You can not be successful if you do not remain current in your field and ready to re-train for the emerging jobs that replace old fields of employment.  A lot of jobs that exist today did not even exist 10 years ago... data analytics for example...

Many people do not want to retire or simply cannot afford to retire. They work longer or find a new job for their retirement years. Economists had predicted that there would be tremendous labor shortages when the baby-boom generation started retiring, and that their retirements would create endless opportunities.  Although the pandemic pushed many people into retirement and set up significant element of current labor shortages - many people will have to work long past 65 to cover expenses.  

The reason for dramatic change in education and retirement is that now, more than ever, you are on your own with your career. There was a time when workers could count on their employers to provide security, healthcare benefits, education reimbursement, and retirement benefits. Those days are gone. 

It used to be the norm that employers would provide defined benefit packages. That meant you knew exactly what you would get and that the employer would keep paying for those benefits, even if the costs went up. Now most employers offer defined contributions. In other words, they will put a certain amount of money into benefits, but when costs go up, you're on your own.

With change happening rapidly and relentlessly, the new reality is that you have to be prepared to reinvent yourself and cover your own back with a continuously updated career plan

The pace of change and disruption is accelerating and it comes in many forms: technological, social, political and economic. You could show up one day at the job you thought was stable and secure, only to find out that you've been laid off. Your job may not exist tomorrow. 

The reality is that you will need to re-tool and reinvent yourself more than just once over the course of your career. You have to be ready when change happens, and you need to maintain awareness to know when it's coming. You will need lifelong education, training, and retooling.  And you will need to protect your income with at least 1 year's salary incase you lose your job. 

Watch job listings in your field to see what current employers are looking for, what companies are hiring and what industries are growing. 


Work is a moving target due to constant disruption. In the last two plus decades millions of jobs have been created and tens of thousands of workers have been left out into the cold in response to:
  • Globalization
  • Buyouts
  • Downsizing
  • Restructuring
  • Mergers
  • Outsourcing
  • Right sizing
  • Off shoring
  • Disruptive technologies
  • Meltdowns
  • Recession and Depression
  • Terrorist attacks
The list is long and will surely get longer in your lifetime.  All of the above disruptors can be described as trends that had a significant impact the labor market.

New trends are disrupting the economy:
  • The Pandemic and Covid Variants
  • The war in Ukraine
  • Inflation
  • Supply Chain disruptions
  • Global Warming
  • Political Instability
  • Immigration Policy
What is happening on the top of your news feed matters.  The labor economy is driven by the change you see there. 

A shift in political priorities can create entire industries and demand for labor... 
  • President Biden's focus on defense spending in support of Ukraine, CHIP and science legislation, covid stimulus plans, infrastructure spending, climate change legislation, healthcare spending, and student debt relief will create tremendous growth in related areas. 
  • California Governor, Gavin Newsom's 2035 deadline banning the sale of gas powered vehicles and replacing them with electrical vehicles will drive demand for EV cars and charging stations.  
  • President Trump's trade policy set goals to create a better market for American goods revived American manufacturing jobs.
  • President Obama's healthcare coverage for all created "Obamacare" and his energy policy shifted the focus from fossil fuels to alternative energy.  

The pandemic altered the employment market for a wide range of health professionals:  
  • Medical professionals - RNs, MDs, PAs, NPs, Assistants, hospital professionals...
  • Mental health providers - Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors 
  • Biotech Innovators - The rapid deployment of new medical technologies for covid treatment demonstrated the value of being ready with talent all along the continuum - research, development, production, public relations, distribution and media.  
  • Prevention services - Exercise became a recognized  critical factor in health and wellness.
The post pandemic explosion in demand for travel and leisure - a huge part of the recovery economy as services and venues reopened.  

Education investments yielded jobs for teachers, more money for research, and more opportunities for workers to upgrade their skills for a 21st Century economy. Education policies create workers for the information and service industries. With a better educated American workforce, employers are less likely to ship high tech jobs overseas.  Same with automation spending for US manufacturing.  Increased spending on US based chip fabrication operation both protects the domestic supply of chips and increases the number of high paying jobs. 

Sustainable energy is driving the demand to address environmental degradation and tackle global warming.  Employment opportunities in science and technology will continue to grow.  High paying jobs have been created in every imaginable category - electric vehicles, self-driving cars and trucks, service, transportation, manufacturing, engineering, IT,  finance - in government, industry and consulting services.

Trade policies have definitely had an impact in 2022.

The need to reduce dependence on unreliable supply chains has brought on a “re-shoring surge.” Every day another company announces they are expanding operations in the US to counter the problem. 

Global Events

Sometimes, the world-of-work will change dramatically in response to immediate global events events and crises.

The coronavirus pandemic severely impacted the airline, transportation, hospitality, entertainment industries.  But it drove research and development of antidotes and immunization as well as demand for respiratory equipment and protective equipment for medical professionals.

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the economic impact was felt throughout the country. Building supplies became more expensive in Seattle. Home insurance rates went up in Sacramento. Labor costs went up in South Dakota. Even if there had not been as much devastation, gasoline prices everywhere would still have been impacted by the closing of a few refineries.

When oil prices spiked up more than 100% in 2008 there was tremendous upheaval in many industries. There were good and bad repercussions. People thought harder about their automobile choices and where they live. They thought more about fuel economy in both decisions. Manufacturers realized that if they manufacture in China, they might lose all of the savings gained from a cheaper labor market by incurring heavy transportation costs to get their goods to market. Cheap oil allowed for inexpensive transport of goods across the globe. But once the cost of shipping a 40-foot container to the US jumped from $3000 earlier in the decade, to $8000 in 2008 things changed. And then in 2009, oil prices dropped back down.

Things happen everyday. Someone introduces a new product.  Russia declares war on Ukraine. The Fed raises interest rates. California fires, Florida hurricanes, Hawaii volcano eruptions... The ozone layer depletion, sea-level rise...  A pile of coal ash breaks free from a dam and pollutes a river. A study reports that subsidies for corn-based ethanol impact food prices. A computer battery catches on fire. Driverless cars and driverless trucks hit the road ...  Zelle disrupts banking .... Zoom creates online meetings and classrooms...

Your job is to analyze the information coming at you and figure out what it means. It can be good news or it can be bad news. Your task is to maintain awareness and to figure out what might happen next and where opportunity will emerge. When things happen, your task is to pay attention and to connect the dots.