By Dean Whittaker

What if your assignment was to recruit work for the companies already in your community? How would you go about doing it? Where would you start?

Hampton Road (Virginia Beach/Norfolk), Virginia, where 75% of their work is related to Department of Defense spending, is experiencing a similar quandary as they face the looming budget cuts. What is threatened is the loss of WORK.

My first thought was, “Well, who has work that needs to be done?” Using a future scenario process, I began considering what the trends are that are impacting work. What are the social, technological, economic, environmental, and political trends, and what opportunities do these create in the short and long-term?

Next, I took these trends and put them into a grid from least likely to most likely to occur and from lowest impact to highest impact. Selecting those trends that are most likely to happen and will have the biggest impact, I identified several important factors, but here are the top five trends. They are: 1. Cyber war likely, 2. Robotics in the home, office, hospitals, senior centers; 3. Devaluation of the dollar by 20%, 4. Climate change creates extreme weather patterns, and 5. Government becomes increasingly dysfunctional. By writing a future scenario of each of these five trends, I began thinking about what opportunities for work are created.

Now, let’s take a look at one of these trends: Cyber-war likely. Actually, we have been engaged in a cyber-war since at least 2006 when the U.S. put a virus in the Iran Nuclear material refining centrifuge causing it to malfunction. What type of work does a cyber-war create? Cyber Security is one. The recent news stories of high profile breaches of security at Facebook, Google, Apple, and many others has begun to gain public attention. According to, BotRevolt, there are 556 million victims of cyber-crime per year with over $110 billion lost. What is being stolen is your data. It is sold and re-sold. Your PayPal account data is worth $62, banking credentials $25-$35, credit card $25-$35, driver’s license $20, and credit card number $1-$10.

Therefore, Cyber Security is big business and will require a great deal of work to be done. Despite the cutback at Department of Defense, the Cyber Security budget has been increased by 12%. Lockheed and other Defense contractors are advertising for cyber security specialists, especially those able to launch a cyber-attack. Securing our national power grid, air traffic control system, refinery operations, financial system, and others are being given top priority.

Enough of the scary stuff…the point being that, as you can see, there will not be a lack of work in the cyber-security field for some time to come. This is just one of the areas that the future scenario process helps us see and consider the opportunities these trends will provide to identify work to be done.

The next steps in the process is to determine who needs to have this work done, who can do it locally based on occupational clusters, when, where, and how. Stay tuned as we continue to explore the idea of recruiting work rather than companies. Your feedback on this concept would be greatly appreciated. What do you think?