UPfront: Top 10 Workforce Predictions

Right on cue on January 1, North Carolina-based futurist Roger Herman sent us his top 10 workforce and workplace forecasts for 2003. Though more relevant to the US market you’ll recognise many of the trends that underlie his predictions.

He concedes that this year’s forecasts are “necessarily tentative because of the wild cards that may be dealt”, like war for instance, and then suggested the truly interested should look out for his soon to be released e-book, Wild Cards: Playing with Less than Full Deck. But for now, his predictions include:

1. As the economy picks up, employers will face the most severe shortage of skilled labour in history. Unprecedented churning in the labour marketplace will begin by mid-year. Skilled labour shortages in the United States will move even more jobs to other countries, where workers will improve their skills to perform new tasks.

2. More people will become independent contractors, selling their services to employers on project or set-term basis. This movement will expand the work of specialised staffing firms and electronic job boards.

3. As the economy picks up, employers who have treated employees badly during the tight economy will be in serious trouble. More workers will leave, laid-off employees won’t return, and fewer applicants will choose to work for them.

4. Workers fortunate enough to have found their preferred work environment will tend to stay longer. People will seek stability, but may change jobs more frequently in their search for their personal Employer of Choice.

5. Corporate training and education will accelerate to accommodate new employees and the redevelopment of existing staff. The demand for vocational education will begin to grow as people realise the increasing need – and higher income – for skilled workers.

6. Portable benefits will come into vogue, as employees negotiate individualised compensation arrangements with employers forced to be more accommodating.

7. Fewer people will retire completely. Retirees will move into jobs in other fields, start their own businesses, and engage in other activities to remain active and productive.

8. Re-emphasis on telecommuting will inspire substantial changes in where and how companies do business. Space allocation and management styles will shift to accommodate this flexibility.

9. Employers will be more selective in hiring. Culture “fit” will become as important as skills, experience, and attitude.

10. Leadership development will take on new importance, as employers discover serious inadequacies. Senior executives who do not demonstrate leadership qualities will be asked to leave. Up and coming managers will be expected to learn and practise leadership skills before being moved into senior or even mid-level positions.

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