My Predictions for 2006
By Marty Nemko
My goal here is to offer predictions that might inform your decision making in the workplace and in choosing a career path.
Of course, it’s oft said that he who lives by the crystal ball eats broken glass, but my annual predictions in previous years have been reasonably on-target. I must admit that’s partly because my predictions are rarely radical—they’re usually predictions of extant trends that I believe will accelerate. I’ve found that rarely do things radically change from one year to the next. The moderate nature of my predictions come also from my nature--Constitutionally, I’m somewhere between an early adopter and the average resident of Peoria. That puts me in a good position to predict things that will affect the mainstream. The accuracy of my past predictions may also be the result of the procedure I use in developing them. During the first days of January, I create a list of predictions based purely on my synthesis of what I’ve read, heard, seen, and experienced. Then on January 10, by which time, most prognosticators have rendered their annual forecasts, I read dozens of sets of predictions from a wide range of sources and, as a result, modify my own. What you see here is the result.
Webconferencing will grow. Webconferencing is getting ever easier to set up, and the quality of web-based video conferencing is rapidly improving. At the same time, mid and late adopters are getting more comfortable with the idea of virtual rather than in-person meetings. News the Career-Minded Can Use: If you’re a manager who traditionally has had people fly and drive in for meetings or trainings, consider trying out a state-of-the-art Webconferencing service such as WebEx. (www.webex.com.).
Nuclear will boom. The nuclear (George, that’s “nuclear,” not “nucular,”) threat from Iran or North Korea will burgeon, forcing an at-least symbolic increase in U.S. nuclear weaponry. On the peaceful front, the U.S. will move closer to building its nuclear plants in decades because of American desire for energy independence from Persian Gulf nations and anti-American Venezuela, plus reassurance from the techies that new-generation nuclear plants are remarkably safe. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Jobs in the nuclear industry should be plentiful, as will be jobs in the oil and gas industries. (The latter is not a prediction. It’s long-standing fact. See my blog post of Jan. 7, 2006.)
Search will expand. Google enjoys a reputation as a premier employer involved in creating important (and cool) projects. So, I’m not surprised to be hearing, again and again, that some of the world’s most capable people are applying for jobs at Google—for most openings, it receives hundreds of strong applications. Ultimately, the best company is the one with the best people, so I believe Google will continue to be the leader in search, staving off the upcoming challenge from Microsoft and Yahoo!. Extending that leadership, I predict that in 2006, publishers--with author permission--will decide to allow Google to index all its books. As a result, Google users will be able to read segments of a book up to a page or two in length for free, with additional amounts requiring a fee, to be split among bookseller (Google), author, and publisher, just as in traditional book sales. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Consider working for Google. Google most often hires software developers, but like other companies, also employs accountants, HR people, marketers, etc. Another implication of the boom in search is that the demand will increase for information brokers, self-employed people who are masters at using search engines and other resources to unearth needed information for clients.
Toyota hybrids rock; U.S. cars roll. Hybrid cars will grow in popularity as gas prices remain high and environmentalism-as-religion grows, but in 2006 and 2007, none will be as popular as the Toyota Prius because of its extraordinary gas mileage in a futuristic looking, surprisingly spacious and powerful, and rock-solid reliable car. By 2010, the inexpensive and sometimes downright sexy Chinese cars yet will become reliable enough to generate significant sales in the U.S. Meanwhile, U.S. carmakers such as GM, which is losing $25 million per day, will have an ever tougher time competing as they continue to sign union contracts that give its average worker $27 an hour plus thousands of dollars per worker in health insurance ($5 billion in total) and a pension most people can only wish for (GM has $86 billion in its pension fundt), while granting them security of employment despite U.S. cars’ high defect rate. I predict that as the US airlines that recently declared bankruptcy, GM and/or Ford will declare bankruptcy in late 2006. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Work for Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, or a Chinese car manufacturer. Buy stock in Toyota; sell stock in GM and Ford.
Commercials come to the Net. With ever more of us using computers with broadband connection, ever more Web sites will force us to watch commercials before being able to view our desired content. That, of course, is particularly likely to occur on sites with in-demand content, for example, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and who knows, maybe even US News and World Report. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Get in on the ground floor of this trend by: 1. Learning what makes an effective Webmercial. One way to start is simply to watch some and ask yourself, “What about this Webmercial makes me want to or not want to watch it? What, if anything, about it would motivate me to buy from that advertiser?” 2. Deciding whether you’d rather: a. work for an ad agency that could or already develops Webmercials. b. For your current or future employer, work with an ad agency to create Webmercials. c. Be an ad salesperson specializing in Webmercials.
Apple will start rotting. Its profits are too dependent on the IPod. Competitors will likely bite into Apple’s dominance of the MP3 market. In addition, IPod sales will be sliced because IPods have now been around for more than four years—hipness declines with age. Cool-hungry teens and 20-somethings will have moved onto the next fad. Apple will be additionally sliced by Microsoft’s new operating system, Vista, which slice Mac sales. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Apple stock could be eaten to the core. It’s still in an uptrend, gaga over IPod sales and hype. Sell when it drops more than 10 percent. Also, work somewhere else, for example, the reinvigorated HP.
Ever more job openings will be for temporary positions. The ever faster pace of change means that companies need fewer full-time permanent employees and more short-termers with the precise skills to complete a specific project. Employers also prefer temp employees for a reason they less readily admit: temps are less likely to sue for wrongful termination, because the employee was informed, upfront, that the position was temporary. Companies also like temp workers because the benefits costs are lower--temp workers aren’t around long enough to qualify for employee paid retirement plans and other perks that go to long-term employees. In an era of historic-low unemployment, why do job seekers accept temp jobs? In part because they’re optimistic they’ll do well and the temp job will become permanent. Alas, that’s less often true than they hope. Also, they believe, incorrectly, that the free agent life offers freedom. Alas, too often it provides the freedom to be unemployed, without health insurance and without a retirement plan. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Try to convert your temp job to a long-term one (few jobs, anymore, can truly be called permanent) by letting your boss know that you appreciate working with him or her and the company, building relationships with higher-ups, and developing and/or touting skills the employer will always need, for example, sales or project management. And at the risk of sounding like your mother, come in a little early and stay a little late.
Telecommuting will rise. As traffic from the suburbs to downtown increases and more jobs can be done from home, ever more employers will allow workers to work from home, at least for part of the week. Indeed, that was salary.com’s hottest compensation trend for 2006. And why not? If an employee works at home, that’s one less desk of real estate the employer needs to provide. And with so much more work done on computer, it’s easy for employers to keep track of the home-based employee’s productivity. A final reason telecommuting will grow in popularity is that many employees enjoy being home part of the week, for example, to be with their kids. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Pitch telecommuting to your boss but think twice about telecommuting full-time. Often, if you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind when it comes time for the boss to assign plum projects. And, from home, it’s harder to build the relationships with higher-ups that are key to getting promoted. One more tip: turn off the web cam when you and your baby are playing patty cake.
Little will be done to curb offshoring of U.S. jobs. Why? The Right is too committed to open markets and the Left doesn’t want to risk appearing that it is hurting U.S. companies’ ability to compete with foreign firms, which are offshoring with impunity. Bolstering U.S. employers’ eagerness to offshore is that firms that help employers offshore are getting ever better at training offshore employees to please American employers. News the Career-Minded Can Use: If you’re a top performer—smart, motivated, tech-savvy yet with good communication skills—you probably can always count on a good job in the U.S. Otherwise, and especially if your work could be offshored, consider switching to an offshore-resistant field. Some of my favorites: audiologist, librarian, speech therapist, medical equipment technician, physician assistant/nurse practitioner, electrician, and--if you think that if you can’t beat ‘em you better join ‘em--cross-cultural trainer, who teaches offshore employees how to work successfully for American employers.
Little will be done to stem illegal immigration. Why? The Right is too eager to provide cheap labor for Corporate America and the Left is scared of alienating minorities, a key part of its base. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Work for a company or start a business that serves illegal immigrants. For example, in areas of the U.S. near the Mexican border, find work in the non-profit and government sectors that would heavily serve illegal immigrants: public schools, hospitals, and government agencies.
China’s economy will grow even faster than expected. China has the ingredients for growth: quickly increasing business savvy, an enormous, motivated, intelligent, technologically savvy, low-cost workforce, and a willingness to violate patents issued in other countries. The latter is critical to their ability to copy American and other products and sell them for a fraction of what U.S. companies must charge. So, it’s no surprise that China’s trade surplus with the rest of the world tripled in 2005, to a record $102 billion. I predict China’s meteoric rise will continue, much of it at the U.S. economy’s expense. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Consider learning Chinese and working for a U.S. company involved in joint ventures with China. Or propose to your employer or a prospective one that you would like to create such joint ventures.
E-Commerce will grow faster than ever. I’m now starting to see even tech-resistant, late adopters doing much of their shopping on the Net. I predict the contraction of bricks-and-mortar stores, especially those selling technology products and those requiring extensive floor space. That has already started to happen: For example, Good Guys, a 30-year-old electronics chain, is closing all its 46 stores. Moving forward, I predict, for example, that the number of auto dealers and Sears stores (all those floor-space consuming washing machines and lawn tractors) will decline. Conversely, I predict that the stock of Amazon.com and shippers such as FedEx and UPS will rise. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Seek employment with e-commerce leaders such as amazon.com, and with the e-commerce divisions of leading retailers, especially Wal-Mart. Buy stock in amazon.com, sell Sears.
Dems win big in 2006. The news media, Hollywood (film and TV), and the book publishing industry, significantly affect who citizens vote for. In recent years, all three have grown ever more willing to abandon neutrality in favor of promoting a liberal agenda. Hollywood has been emboldened by the media’s continued adoration even when, to serve the liberal agenda, Hollywood portrays fiction as truth, for example, some of the contentions in Michael Moore’s movie, Fahrenheit 911. The media is ever more emboldened by the public’s relative silence in the face of biased journalism—“reportorial” is a word many journalists don’t even know, let alone practice. I receive the catalogs of major publishers. The ratio of liberal-slanted to conservative-slanted books has grown to, I’d estimate, at least ten to one. The few conservative books that get published are usually written by long-standing famous conservatives such as George Will or Thomas Sowell. I predict that the media’s and moveon.org’s efforts to “educate” America will, despite an apparent small number of ostensibly competitive races, result in the Democrats gaining control of both the House and Senate. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Government job openings, already extensive, will increase further. The job market in DC, Northern Virginia, and blue and purple (a mix of red and blue) state capitals will be strong, especially for government and government contractors. The defense industry, except for anti-terrorism initiatives, will suffer serious declines.
Terrorism will increase. Likely, there will be a significant terrorist attack on U.S. soil. I must admit that I predicted that would occur in 2005 and fortunately, I was wrong. But ever growing Muslim hatred of the US combined with terrorists’ past successes (for example, affecting the outcome of Spain’s presidential election), increases further the probability of a successful terrorist attack occurring on the U.S. News the Career-Minded Can Use: I predict that jobs in the security industry, especially for prestigious firms such as Kroll will increase, and will, pardon the expression, explode following a successful terrorist attack on U.S. soil. We tend to overreact to disasters. For example, after 9/11, airplane security was massively increased while cargo ship and water supply security received far less attention. Following Hurricane Katrina, we’re focusing on rebuilding levees. So, immediately following a terrorist attack on the U.S., consider seeking employment in firms preventing the type of terrorist attack that was used.
The U.S. will take more steps toward national socialized medicine. Health care reform is in the media’s crosshairs, and, in turn, the public’s. The media presents story after story highlighting the current system’s flaws and the upsides of Canada’s socialized medicine system. Also as boomers age and therefore need more from the health care system and too often are disappointed, calls for change will accelerate. So if as I predict, the Democrats regain control of the House and/or Senate, expect to see renewed moves for taxpayer-funded national health care. I’m guessing that conservatives will go along with socialized medicine if patients remain allowed to choose their own doctor and if rigorous evaluations of individual physicians and hospitals are made public. News the Career-Minded Can Use: I believe that a graduate program in health care management with a public health emphasis will be valuable in both the near and long term.
A breakthrough in genetic testing will occur. The continuing increase in computing power combined with increased understanding of the human genome makes it likely that a breakthrough in genetic testing will occur in 2006. Perhaps it will be a blood test to help prospective parents predict the likelihood their child would suffer from severe depression, a DNA sample that would determine an adult’s susceptibility to a cancer that his father had, or a better test to help in-vitro fertilization doctors identify healthy eggs and sperm to use in helping infertile couples get pregnant. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Consider careers in the biotech industry. Fortune magazine, on January 11, rated leading biotech company, Genentech, the nation’s best place to work. Even if you’re a non-scientist, all biotech companies employee people in non-science areas, for example, marketing, accounting, human resources, etc. Yes, even for non-science jobs, biotech companies often require conversance with key biotech concepts and jargon, but you may be able to acquire that knowledge just by taking a course or two offered by a community college or a university’s extension program.
The print media will struggle. The major book publishers will cut their budgets and devote an ever larger proportion of their list to books written by celebrities and other big-name authors. They’re under pressure to stick with sure winners because although 2005 was better than 2004, the long-term trend is for fewer people to buy books: they’re able to get information from the Net and television, and because readers can now so easily buy used books on Amazon and its thousands of affiliated used booksellers. Thus, the same book can get recycled multiple times, even though the publisher and author have been paid for only one copy. For this reason, as mentioned above, I believe that most publishers will agree to allow Google to index their books in exchange for consumers having to pay a fee for reading more than a page or two of a book. Newspapers and magazines too will be forced to cut their budgets as ever more people get their news from the Internet, made easy thanks to RSS feeds, which drop news from the multiple media outlets of the user’s choice into their email box, free. And no- and low-cost online advertisers such as Craigslist, Ebay, and Monster will ever more hurt advertising revenue. News the Career-Minded Can Use: If you want a career in the media, the Internet is its present and the future. Learn to write in a style that works on the Net, create video content inexpensively for the Web, and/or.learn the art of marketing Internet content.
The Culture Wars
The trend to make men irrelevant will accelerate. Male bashing has accelerated in 2005. For example, Maureen Dowd’s New York Times bestseller, Are Men Necessary? has become a national phenomenon—to wit, the most read article of 2005 on NYTimes.com was an excerpt from that book. Supporting the validity of this trend, I see ever more male-bashing books in the catalogs of major publishers yet have seen not one female-denigrating book. Could you imagine a major publisher publishing a book if it were entitled, “Are Women Necessary?” let alone “Are Blacks Necessary?” Could you imagine such books being then showered with positive publicity by the media? Additional evidence for the anti-male trend is that, in the confidentiality of my private practice, many of my female executive clients admit to preferring to hire and promote women. In contrast, most of my male clients usually are open to hiring the most qualified candidate of either sex. Evidence of the sexism of this American trend is found in a Gallup survey of employees in 22 nations.That survey revealed that both men and women more often prefer male bosses, and the longer their history with female bosses, the more this is true. News the Career-Minded Can Use: Men should be alert to the possibility that, in some workplaces, New Girls’ Networks are as biased against men as the Ol’ Boys’ Network was against women. Try to get jobs and projects in which the people in power are mixed-gender or male-majority.
© Marty Nemko 2004-2018. Usage Rights