The year 2020 will be remembered for many things. Among them will be a global pandemic that touched the lives of millions – or even billions – of people. But it will also be remembered for the scientific triumph of having multiple vaccines developed in record time to begin bringing the pandemic to heel. And in between those events, there was also a massive and major shift in the way much of the world works.
Due to the sudden need for stay-at-home orders to control the pandemic, workers everywhere had to adjust to working from home, many for the first time. And in the wake of the change, businesses had to create new IT infrastructures and adopt automation technologies at a rapid pace. By the end of the year, it became clear that the new arrangement won’t be going away soon.
And that new reality is reshaping what the global workforce will look like in the near-term. It’s having the effect of accelerating some preexisting trends, while it’s also creating some all-new ones. For workers, this means that it’s time to reevaluate their goals and plans to prepare for the new future of work. Here are four ways technology is changing the labor market as we speak.
Location Isn’t Everything
If you examine the layout of any major economy, you’ll notice that they all share one thing in common. It’s that they tend to organize themselves into hubs. In the United States, for example, the west coast dominates the tech industry, the east coast dominates the financial sector, the energy sector is a fixture of the gulf coast, and manufacturing centers dot the mid and northwest.
But technology has now changed all that. In all but the most physical labor-dependent industries, workers can now live just about anywhere and find work in any industry. Experts in the financial sector, specifically, believe that remote work technology is enabling a great decentralization that will result in businesses adopting radically different office footprints. That means people from all over the country will soon have access to some of the highest-paying jobs in the nation.
Cybersecurity is the New Must-Have
Even though the business world had their hands full before the pandemic in seeing to their digital security, the new threat landscape is much more concerning. With millions of people now working outside the corporate business network security umbrella, it’s only going to get worse. And that means cybersecurity professionals are going to be in unprecedented demand.
For that reason, experts in the field will be able to find work wherever they choose to live. And because technology also makes it possible to earn a master’s level degree in cybersecurity from anywhere, their path to the top of the industry is much easier, too. But their challenges in the coming years will be immense. We’re approaching a time where cybersecurity is a concern for organizations of every size and description. And the bad guys have the upper hand at the moment.
An Infrastructure in Need of a Refresh
There was another tech-focused consequence of the changes wrought by the pandemic. It was that the global internet saw some of its largest daily traffic increases ever. Network providers of all sizes, from small regional ISPs to enormous tier 1 networks saw their infrastructures pushed to the brink. Things got so bad that big streaming providers turned to quality throttling to keep the internet from seizing up.
And things aren’t going to get better by themselves. With more people continuing to work from home (even after it’s no longer mandatory), a big shift toward eCommerce that most expect to become permanent, and the coming wide rollout of 5G wireless networks – the internet will need some upgrades. That means big tech firms and ISPs will be calling for a new generation of network engineers and administrators to build an expanded internet for the rest of the 21st century.
Calling all Blockchain Developers
Last but not least, the pandemic unleashed a flood of development in the cryptocurrency industry. Some of it was a response to a perceived need for stateless financial systems, and some was a matter of homebound devs having more time on their hands. Whatever the reasons, though, interest in cryptocurrencies has never been higher – as Bitcoin’s surge past $36,000 amply demonstrates.
And all of the activity translates into huge opportunities for blockchain developers, who now have a second chance to create a real financial revolution after the spectacular flameout of the ICO craze. This time, however, it’s DeFi leading the charge. And that means qualified blockchain developers are sitting at the beginning of a new golden age of crypto development. And it wouldn’t be surprising to see them surge back to the top of the most-wanted tech professionals list as they did in the mid-aughts.
A Whole New World
The thing to recognize here is that none of the workforce trends identified here is a surprise. It’s just that they’re happening sooner and in a different order than anyone predicted. As is often the case in the world of technology, sudden innovations, as well as market-driven demand, is the real fuel that drives things forward. In this case, what we have is a confluence of events that sees technology reshaping the way businesses work and the products consumers demand at the same time – and nothing like it has happened before.
For workers who can read these tech-driven trends and act on them, though, the future is bright. And those who don’t will be at a competitive disadvantage it won’t be easy to overcome. The only real question is, which group do you plan to be a part of?