We are so caught up in the chaos and busy-ness of our daily lives that it is hard to consider our short-term futures: next week, next month, even next year.
What will your life be like in 8 years, in 2024?
Why should you care a whit about that today? Your ten-year old son or daughter will be 18 in 2024, ready to enter college. Your current career will be transformed dramatically, no matter what it is. That is why you should care.
BLS Projections: 2014 – 2024 Job Growth and Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides a wealth of labor and employment statistic, including the monthly jobs growth estimates and unemployment rate estimates.
While no one can accurately forecast the future, in the BLS 2014 – 2024 employment projections of the fastest growing occupations a few trends jump off the page:
- Medical occupations dominate the list
- Almost all fast growing occupations require a Bachelor's degree
- Many require a Master's degree or higher
College is a Must, not an Option
When I graduated high school in the mid-70s, everyone discussed the option of attending college and getting a degree. Some of my friends preferred to become electricians, plumbers, mechanics, and welders – planning to earn incomes now instead of waiting 4 years.
Flash forward 40 years to 2016 and most electricians, plumbers et al need training equivalent to an associate's degree to be successful. The new paradigm is that college is a must, not an option. In 2024 it is estimated that almost 20% of all new jobs will require a Master's degree.
Lifelong Training and Multiple Careers
When I graduated college as an engineer in the late 70s, a common thought was, at last, I am done with studying and can get on with earning a living. Here again, rapid advances in technology have brought us another paradigm shift: a college degree is just the beginning of your training, not the end. Professionals must not continuously train and learn new skills to stay current and relevant in their careers.
Careers is the relevant word as most people today will have 5 – 7 different careers during their lifetimes. Some will greet that news with enthusiasm and anticipation, others with horror. I have already had several careers: aerospace engineer, telecom project manager, business consultant, inventor, and now entrepreneur. I believe that the crucible of technology and continual change brings stress, but also personal growth and fulfillment. When you can't change the direction of the winds, adjust your sails – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Why it is Great to be an Inventor in Today's Economy
Now for some good news. There has never been a better time to start a small business than today. Access to technology tools, software, applications and infrastructure are virtually limitless and affordable to just about everyone.
Need to build a prototype for your new invention, but have no clue how to do so? No problem, you can find a prototyper who has that expertise. I found someone in Shenzhen, China who easily built my first cat toy prototype with just a few conversations and PowerPoint diagrams. Have an idea for a new killer app, but you never coded a day in your life? No problem, you can go to Upwork and countless other websites and find people with those skills.
Most corporations have come to reluctantly realize the truth of the maxim Innovate or Die. Over 60% of Apple's revenues come from iPhone sales, a product that didn't exist prior to 2009. But, most corporations are terrible at innovation. The corporate mantra of that's the way we have always done it is ubiquitous, whereas move fast and break things is popular only at Facebook.
Companies must innovate with new products to stay relevant and profitable, but they are terrible at innovation. What is a company to do? Increasingly, companies look to independent inventors for new, innovative products. This provides an opportunity for an inventor with a fantastic new innovative product to license it to a corporation that needs that new product to grow their business.
If successful, the inventor can collect royalties from product sales and spend time working on other things. Maybe he or she can quit their day job. It's very risky, it is not easy to do and most inventors fail. But I did it. Maybe you can too.