If your job can be done cheaper some place else in the world, it will be. And if it can be done by a robot or software, it will be. So it might be time to take a look at some other options, according to business and media futurist Robert Tercek. He sat down with AOL for a chat about the future of employment on This Week in Careers, and came up with ideas that will make your head spin.
"No matter what you're doing, there is somebody somewhere else in the world who is willing to work harder for less pay, and is already on the job. You might not know it, but they're already competing with you," he cautions.
This may sound harsh and appear to close a lot of employment doors forever, but it opens many more, says Tercek, who lives on the cutting edge of the professional world. He's either launched or pushed forward companies such as MTV, OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network), Sony, CBS, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Paramount and Activision. He's also advised superstar experts like Oprah, Anthony Robbins, Suze Orman, Dr Mehmet Oz, Jean Chatsky and Deepak Chopra on using the latest technology to stay ahead of the game.
"You have to be looking over your shoulder," Tercek advises. "This is an exciting time, with certain sectors poised for growth, and I see great opportunities ahead if you're not too fixated on preserving the past."
So how do you know if your current employer is too fixated on the past? Tercek says if they're too set on doing things "the way we've always done it," they're probably in trouble. Businesses simply can no longer rely on what worked well before. If you don't see your current employer focusing on new ways to solve problems, but instead they are insistent on sticking to what's tried and true, it's a sign they're going to fall behind the companies that are fresher and more flexible and nimble. You might start looking for a job with a more forward-thinking company, because the old one probably won't be around much longer.
So which fields will be hot in the future?
Energy -- "The world is consuming energy at a tremendous clip -- we Americans consume about 25 percent of the Earth's energy right now, and the rest of the world is going to grow to that level of consumption," explains Tercek. "We have unabated desire for energy, and alternate energy is a great field to go into. Most big energy companies can't find fossil fuels anymore, so they're looking for alternative energy sources."
Health Care -- Tercek says that this sector comprises about 20 percent of our economy right now, and it's clearly set to grow. "But if we continue on the path we're on, it's likely to bankrupt state and maybe even national governments. So there is pressure to find new ways to deliver health-care services more efficiently. That's a great opportunity."
Robotics -- This is less obvious, but tremendous advances are being made. Tercek cites Google, which has a fleet of robotic cars that have gone some 200,000 miles without human drivers, gathering data for Google Maps. Surgeons are operating with the aid of robots. "Robots are starting to permeate our economy," he says, "which is going to displace some old skill labor, because those jobs won't be done by humans any more." But someone has to create the robots, right?
Information: We're swimming in information right now -- it's all around us at every hour of the day and night, and has become so ubiquitous that many people just take it for granted. But Tercek sees a whole world of jobs opening up that involves managing that information. He says there is opportunity in the storage of data; in the retrieval and search for data, in the analysis of information and in its filtering and delivery. Everything you see has gone through multiple steps from creation to delivery, and you'll find all sorts of jobs in that process.
So basically, it comes down to the theory that there's no such thing as standing still -- you're either moving forward or falling behind. Change is never easy, but it can certainly be invigorating and force you to grow. And you can always rely on experts like Tercek to help you keep up.
Next: 10 Careers of the Future
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