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The Biggest Workplace and Career Predictions for 2015

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Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

Freelance work, marijuana legalization, and immigration will all influence the jobs landscape

As you make your career and workplace plans for 2015, you might want to consider these predictions:

Further conversion of full-time, benefited jobs, to part-time temp work, internships, and volunteer “positions.” A 2014 study by Elance-oDesk found that 53 million Americans are now freelancers; that’s 34% of all U.S. workers. Career Builder’s just-released forecast for 2015 suggests that will increase further:

Twenty-three percent of employers expect to recruit part-time works over the next 12 months, up six percentage points over last year. While various factors will influence this trend, 14 percent of all employers stated they will likely hire more part-time workers in 2015 due to the Affordable Care Act.

The hiring process will get even more rigorous. Not that long ago, most job openings were filled based on a resume, cover letter, and a half-hour interview or two with a boss. That process is dramatically lengthening: It may start with a work-sample assignment to be included with the job application, and three to five rounds of interviews, often including an all-day run through a gauntlet of interrogators, followed by a thorough background check to verify reported information, identify criminal record, etc. The process can take months.

The lengthening is due, in part, to the increased costs of employing an American: in addition to the Affordable Care Act, there are increases in the costs of Workers Compensation, Americans with Disabilities Act, EEOC, Medicare, Social Security, and Family Leave Act (paid leave in some states), and expanded employee rights to file grievances against employers.

More workplace wellness programs. A healthier workforce is a more productive one. So workplace wellness programs should burgeon. For example, wellness apps such as GetHealth provide employees with, for instance, peer support and prizes for exercising more and for losing weight, perhaps including a competition between work groups.

More students will opt out of liberal arts bachelor’s degrees. Statistics about the rampant un- and underemployment among student-debt-buried liberal arts graduates will likely motivate high school graduates that can’t gain admission to a designer-label college to consider such post-high school alternatives as:

· inexpensive community college career preparation programs,

· the free or low-cost Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCS)—aggregated mainly at Coursera, edX, and Udemy,

· on-the-job training, for example, in entrepreneurship at the elbow of a successful small business owner,

· enlistment in the military to get taxpayer-paid career training. This will be seen as a more attractive option because it’s widely thought that the U.S., in coming years, is less likely to get involved in wars.

The trend away from liberal arts bachelor’s degrees will accelerate as President Obama likely replaces his everyone-to-college push with some touting and funding of short-term career training programs.

Marijuana legalization. Pot legalization will likely expand to more states, maybe even nationwide. Of course, that will increase jobs in the pot industry—Big Tobacco moves to weed—but because of demonstrated increases of serious physical and mental health problems and car accidents, jobs will also burgeon for psychologists, drug counselors, school drug educators, paramedics, car insurance adjusters, and lawyers and HR people developing and administering new policies regarding marijuana in the workplace.

More “Corporate Social Responsibility.” Corporations, whether out of benevolence and/or the media’s and college classes’ messages that corporations are Bad Guys, will likely reallocate ever more money that previously would have been reinvested in the company or distributed as dividends to shareholders and to spending on “social responsibility” efforts, for example, foundations and other charitable donations. So jobs in corporate social responsibility should increase. That trend is visible as one watches TV ads. It seems an increased number are touting their non-profit initiatives.

Ever more employees will work at home. Employers will increasingly encourage telecommuting because:

  • It reduces the amount of office space required.
  • The advantages of having all employees in one building have been diminished by the ready availability of free- and low-cost videoconferencing.
  • Ever more work product can be transmitted over the Internet.
  • Computers, phones, and wearables are ever more capable.
  • In ever more companies, the workforce is distributed across the country or worldwide.
  • Many employees prefer to work at home to avoid the ever lengthening commute to what often is a noisy, open workspace.

Hiring related to immigration. President Obama’s Executive Order regarding immigration and promised passage of “comprehensive immigration reform” will, unless Congress stops him, mean an increase of 11 million legal Americans. Career and workplace implications:

  • Government will hire many people to supervise the probably labyrinthine legalization process.
  • Unlike previous waves of immigration, this cohort will not have been screened for diseases. So there will likely be significantly increased funding for health care for the poor and for public health initiatives. Bilingual health care professionals should find the job market felicitous.
  • The increased supply of legal people doing work common among immigrants such as landscaping, carpentry, cement work, and other blue-collar occupations will drive pay down in those fields.

Full relations with Cuba. President Obama’s move to liberalize relations with Cuba will likely be followed by additional such orders or legislation resulting in full relations. That should create jobs in the travel industry, import/export, as well as for immigration specialists.

Marketing jobs will be relatively plentiful. The increasing costs of hiring an American and competition with global companies will likely motivate U.S. firms to reallocate more money to marketing to drive sales. Especially in demand will be employees who can derive valid business decisions from customer data, for example, from Facebook and Instagram. Also, traditional ads are losing impact, so demand will increase for experts in “native advertising“—advertising embedded in non-commercial-appearing content—for example, “promoted articles.”

Landing a job in the corporate world should ease, but toughen in non-profits and government. College and the media are leading many people to feel antipathy toward corporations. More such people will seek work in the non-profit and government sectors. That should make it easier to find a job at a for-profit but tougher in a non-profit or government.

Increased focus on transgender issues. Believing that gay marriage and other gay rights initiatives have developed sufficient momentum to become national law, activists and media will redirect some effort to abetting the rights of transgendered people. That should increase jobs for employment attorneys and counselors specializing in the transgendered.

In 2016 or 2020, The Revolution. This is my long-shot prediction of the year. A number of trends make a socialist revolution more likely, possibly just in states already leaning that way such as California, Massachusetts, and New York, but possibly nationally. This is likely to be a peaceful revolution, one in which more candidates who explicitly or by policy are socialist, will be elected. Here are those trends:

· The increased difficulty in finding decent-paying work.

· Crushing student debt that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy.

· Building on the Occupy Movement and the protests following the Michael Brown and Eric Garner deaths, activists will increase demands for “social justice.”

· The media’s increasingly replacing reportorialism with “social justice” activism. Note, for example, the extensive and positive news media coverage of President Obama’s loosening restrictions on relations with Cuba and the quantity of attention, mainly positive, given to Congress’s most liberal members as presidential candidates: for example, Elizabeth Warren and the explicitly Socialist Bernie Sanders. Even CNBC, which many perceive as relatively conservative, now has a primetime lineup that makes capitalism unseemly: The Shark Tank, American Greed, The Car Chasers, and The Profit.

· Demographic changes: immigration and a long-standing higher birth rate among the poor.

· Many of the trends reported in this article involve an increase in redistribution. Paradoxically, the greater the redistribution, the more the masses, the 99-percenters, are likely to feel entitled to a bigger piece of the pie and thus more likely to foment The Revolution.

The takeaway

Do any of the above warrant incorporation into the plans for your career or workplace?

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. specializing in education evaluation from U.C. Berkeley and subsequently taught there. He is the author of seven books and an award-winning career coach, writer, speaker and public radio host specializing in career/workplace issues and education reform. His writings and radio programs are archived on www.martynemko.com.

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