Jul 6, 2010

Career Opportunities for the Future

This is a follow-up to my posts "More on Career Recommendations" and "The Energy Descent Future", both of which have little to do with socionics but contain information that could be important for developing career and business opportunities that both fit your personality and will be in demand in the future. So, this post should be at least as useful as more traditional discussions of what careers are suitable for different personality types. The shortcoming of such discussions is that they assume that the job market will continue evolving in the same direction as it has been over past decades. There are a number of reasons to suppose that this will not be the case.

My comments below are based on the expectation of an energy descent, or reduction in total energy available to the economy, due to the exhaustion of cheap fossil fuel sources. There appears to be no way to avoid an energy descent, and probably no way to avoid a drop in economic output as a result. The energy descent has likely just begun, and there is no end in sight.

There will be winners and losers in the new economy that will take shape as fossil fuels are phased out (whether through high prices or centralized measures). People who align themselves correctly with the underlying trends stand to gain, while those who try to play by old rules will lose.

In general, the losers will be any goods or service industry that is heavily dependent upon cheap fossil fuels to function (whether directly or indirectly). That means:
- international trade
- large corporations
- administration and management personnel
- bureaucratic structures
- industrial agriculture
- automobile industry
- federally funded science
(and many others)

In general, the winners will be small local businesses and entrepreneurs who are the first to occupy vital niches in the new economy.
- locally produced goods
- traditional home builders and home retrofitters
- people who build useful things in their garages
- mechanics who can build useful things out of cars and other machinery
- scrap material collection and trading
- people who can convert lawns into gardens
- local organic farmers and backyard gardeners
- plant nurseries and seed banks
- people who know how to set up and run non-mechanized aquaculture, animal husbandry, and small-scale agriculture
- people who have means of transportation allowing them to trade goods across modest distances (5-100 miles or so)
- family doctors and dentists who have their own equipment
- local chemical labs (think insulin and other critical medications)
- people who can solve local engineering problems, such as stabilizing riverbanks, building waterwheels, hooking up solar panels, etc.
- security guards
- teachers of practical trades

This is just a partial list. There will be tons of these opportunities, and much of this type of work may be under-the-table at first, unless government regulations are rapidly adapted to changing conditions (very doubtful).

People who are primarily employed in the first group may experience a long period of increasing disappointment and shattered expectations before finally making the transition to the second group. Those who foresee these changes are able to provide useful services or goods from the beginning will be in a great position to benefit from the new opportunities available.

UPDATE 4/3/2011:

I just came across a great article that goes into greater detail on the professional opportunities of the future with thinking along the same lines as my own. It's got quite a few good ideas:


IEI-Fe said...

hey, Rick. I am IEI who has lots of pluses. Im sort of musician, Im good at design (web/motion/everything else), I love architecture and many other things... What could I do in that future society? I mean if internet is leaving us, how am I going to build colorful motion (Flash) websites? that is gonna suck. and what about revolutions and rock music?

Ричард said...

Well, there will probably be more demand for musicians than ever, since part of relocalization is that people will spend less time consuming the cultural products of the most powerful worldwide sources (i.e. current pop stars) and more time satisfying their aesthetic needs through local sources (i.e. your neighborhood band). This is bad for the international music industry and good for the vast majority of musicians who currently have to fight to get any audience at all.

Architecture? Homebuilding will always be relevant, and local builders will have increasing amounts of work to do.

Flash website graphics? Hm... I wouldn't bank my future on that career choice.

Anonymous said...

Heh, so there's at least some future for entertainers and home-maintainers. That's reassuring at least.

You say federal-funded science will take a hit, but how about science focused around developing new sources of energy? Here in Australia we've always had a really strong focus on sustainable development, and from that at least it seems intelligent and inventive individuals would be in high demand for developing new sustainable technologies.

Ричард said...

>> "You say federal-funded science will take a hit, but how about science focused around developing new sources of energy?"

I would be cautiously optimistic and prepared for unexpected funding cuts. If the budget is shrinking due to economic decline and a shrinking tax base, funding cuts will affect many areas in reverse order of priority. I'd like to believe alternative energy development will be among the top 2 or 3 priorities, but we'll see if that is actually the case.