By Brittany Gebben

I recently heard a TedTalk podcast by economist Andrew McAfee that raised an interesting question, “What Will Future Jobs Look Like?” (click here for TedTalk).

McAfee talks about the impact of technology and machines now being capable of doing things they never had before while continuing to acquire new skills (understanding, hearing, speaking, writing, etc).  He also brings up the futurist-thinker’s view that we’re creating a world where there’s going to be more and more technology and fewer and fewer jobs, referred to as “the new machine age.”

These technological advances will, in the future, impact our job market.  For example, McAfee mentions the rise of self-driving cars and the future lack of need for truck drivers.  Much of what our customer service employees are doing now will also be automated and we’ll be able to have robots stock our shelves at local grocery stores.

The future looks exciting as we continue to see amazing new opportunity and the possibilities seem endless.  When machines and androids start doing jobs then we don’t have to and our labor can be focused elsewhere… but where? 

Advances in technology and the endless opportunity is admittedly exciting.  It’s also fascinating yet important to think about when you think of the impact it may have on our future jobs.  However, McAfee also mentions a great reminder as he says, “robots aren’t going to start taking over in the next year or two so Economy 101 still works”.  If you take a look at the current labor market, we’re becoming heavy on technology and light on labor and are now in severe demand of skilled labor across the country. 

Although we’re seeing amazing advances we never imagined before, with packages being delivered VIA drone within an hour, we’re not 100% there and won’t be in the next year or two, or ten, so it’s important to encourage our young workforce to gain the necessary labor skills needed in today’s current job market while staying in-tune with the ever-changing labor demand changes.

Currently job openings continue to soar, especially in skilled labor.  According to the US Labor Department, employers added 224,000 jobs in June 2019, more than triple May’s numbers.  Many states, including Iowa are reporting a labor shortage and are launching ambitious campaigns to attract skilled labor.

There is also a severe and growing truck driver shortage.  The American Trucker Association (ATA) reports that the end of 2018 was up 20% (60,000) open driver positions from end of 2017…. A record high.  These shortages of truck drivers are worse than ever and are expected to continue to rise. It’s exciting to think about the future- the amazing opportunities the future holds and what future jobs look like but also important to be aware of our economy’s current demands.  So what do we do?  McAfee says that we must, “Encourage entrepreneurship, double down on infrastructure, and make sure we’re turning out people from our educational system with the right skills.”