Last week, we looked at five employment sectors that seem to be good sources of opportunities for new graduates and those returning to the market after a pandemic break. This week, we’re looking at five more sectors, pointing out opportunities, and sounding cautionary notes. Once again, we are not quantifying our forecasts because of market uncertainty.
The five employment sectors we are covering include manufacturing, administrative services, wholesale trade, financial services, and logistics.
Manufacturing touches every aspect of our daily lives. Almost everything we use has been manufactured in some way.
The challenge for those of us who want to work in manufacturing is that products, ranging from iPhones to clothing, are made overseas. Just look at the labels on the gadgets in your pocket and on the clothes you are wearing.
Yet there are manufacturing jobs in the United States. Japanese manufacturers assemble cars and trucks in this country. Aircraft are manufactured here. You have probably flown on a Boeing airliner many times. Boeing has several large factories in this country. And, it has been widely reported, the largest semiconductor chip manufacturer, a Taiwanese company, is building a factory in the US.
So, if you want to work in manufacturing, there are factories in this country. But you will probably need sophisticated skills to work on technological products.
Administrative services have traditionally been the backbone of many businesses and industries. Office support services, for example, have played a crucial role in keeping things running smoothly. Without efficient administrative staff, important paperwork would be lost or delayed, and meetings and schedules would be disorganized.
Many administrative jobs can be readily automated today. Voicemail and chat-bots handle many functions once performed by receptionists and other assistants. And many of us use a calendar app to track appointments and meetings. The trend is so evident that we placed several kinds of office support roles on our “Economic Endangered Species List” in our Guide to the Post-pandemic Job Market.
Nonetheless, recent graduates and clients returning to the workforce after COVID are landing administrative roles. Based on Department of Labor statistics, and discussions with clients, medical administrative staff are in high demand. The jobs cannot be outsourced because doctors and patients need to work onsite with assistants and administrators. And would you return to a doctor’s office if a robot announced “the doctor will see you now?”
Administrative roles have not disappeared yet in other industries either. Instead, job leads I have seen suggest they are being combined with other roles that generate revenue, such as inside sales. A customer service job lead, for example, may read “customer service/ inside sales.
And efforts to replace specialized customer service staff with an AI have reportedly been problematic in some cases. For example, according to a news report, an eating disorder program tried to replace its CS staff with an AI but found the AI gave callers bad and potentially dangerous advice.
Administrative roles are a great way to learn the nuts-and-bots of a business, and the jobs still exist for the time being. Recognize, though, that many support jobs can be done by offshore remote workers or automated entirely.
Essentially, wholesalers purchase goods from manufacturers and then sell those goods to retailers. The business-to-business (B2B) nature of wholesaling and the volume of transactions that take place makes it an integral component of the supply chain and contributes significantly to the overall economy.
Many of us got a crash course of sorts in the supply chain’s importance during the pandemic, when we could not get products we needed.
Wholesale trade jobs would seem like a good fit for those with B2B skills, but there is an issue in some industries. Specifically, some businesses are subject to “disintermediation,” where manufacturers can sell directly to their retail customers using websites or apps. It is easy to do in some industries, while others have technical, logistical, or legal barriers to disintermediation. So, when you consider a job opportunity at a wholesale distributor, research whether the distributor, or middleman, can be readily eliminated in that business.
The financial services sector, including companies such as commercial banks, investment banks, and insurers, is an essential pillar of our economy. Businesses of all sizes, as well as individual consumers, rely on financial services to achieve their goals. Similarly, both individuals and businesses need insurance to guard against risk.
Relatively new fields related to financial services, such as data science, cybersecurity, and building websites and apps are creating fantastic opportunities for those with the right skills. But a traditional entry-level role—bank teller—is on our economic endangered species list. How often do you do a transaction at a teller window anymore?
We learned during the pandemic that logistics, including transportation and warehousing, are crucial components of any modern economy. The transportation industry moves goods and people efficiently and safely from one point to another, whether by plane, truck, train, or ship. Warehousing, on the other hand, involves the storing and distribution of goods, ensuring that they are available to consumers when and where they are needed.
While we hear a lot about the potential for autonomous trucks to move goods without drivers, and even drones to fly small packages to their final destination, neither of these technologies are ready for prime-time yet. They may not be ready for years so a career driving trucks, dispatching cargo, ow managing and owning a trucking company may be fine for now. However, I’ve been told that robots drastically reduce the need for workers in warehouses, so these opportunities may be limited in 2024 and beyond. Although we cannot make reliable quantitative forecasts about the job market in 2024, we urge jobseekers to ask about the impact of new technology and other market forces during their job market research, and at their job interviews.