Jan 2, 2013
Emily McMackin
Emily McMackin
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Creativity, Critical Knowledge Most Valuable Skills for Jobs of Tomorrow, Study Says

Science & Technology: medical research lab tech

What will be the fastest growing jobs and industries in 2013? Economists have their share of predictions, from jobs in health and personal care to those in customer service and retail, but one thing is certain: The most secure jobs of the future will be those that cannot be easily automated or programmed for a robot to do.

For college graduates and other potential employees looking to enter (or reenter) the workforce, the key to navigating the tepid job market won’t be getting the right degree or landing a particular job; it will be applying their skills and education to fields that require a high level of knowledge, creativity and critical thinking.

A recent Forbes article explores research from a 2012 study published in the Cambridge Journal of Economics, which found that Americans working in creative class jobs had less of a chance of being unemployed than those in the service sector or working class jobs like construction or manufacturing. Co-authored by “The Rise of the Creative Class” author and urban studies expert Richard Florida, the study takes an in-depth look at the jobs people do, the skills required to do them and how this affects their employment rates.

Since losing 8.4 million jobs since between January 2008 to December 2009, the U.S. economy has shifted more toward a “knowledge-based creative activities,” the study’s authors note. Even with the push to bring some of these jobs back through reshoring and other investments, technology is replacing most routine jobs — not just in manufacturing plants, but also throughout the production and service industries.

Other highlights of the study include:
•While post-recession unemployment rates of retail and other service workers, and those in construction, manufacturing and other production fields was 9.3 percent and 14.6 percent respectively, creative class workers fared much better, with an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent after the recession officially ended.

•Unemployment among college-educated creative class workers was 3.2 percent after the recession, compared to a 5.9 percent among college graduates in service class careers and 8.7 percent among grads in working class careers.

•Even for creative class workers with no college degree, the post-recession unemployment rate was lower, at 5.7 percent compared to 10 percent among service workers and 15.1 percent among production workers with no degree.

According to Forbes, this study illustrates the need for more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs in schools and training in disciplines like web design and robotics as well as other up-and-coming technological careers. It also highlights a key attribute both employees and employers need to succeed in the future economy: an entrepreneurial spirit. The article poses this question:

The customers of the future will either want products and services that can be purchased at the rock-bottom prices automation allows — or offer something special, that only humans can bring. What types of highly customized service, unique expertise or cutting-edge skills do you have to offer?

Do you agree with the findings of this study? What type of skills are the most important for workers to develop to succeed in the current and future economy?

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