7 Ways Tech is the Leading Edge of Change for Work and Society


Here are the work and tech trends that I’ve been tracking. If you – or somebody you know – is contemplating a career move, or if you’re thinking about updating your skills, this is worth a read.

1.Digitalization and the American Workforce (Source: Brookings Institution)

The number of jobs with high digitization scores quadrupled, from 5% to 23%, between 2002 and 2016.

  •  The number of jobs with low digital scores plummeted, from 56% to 30%
  • Nearly every occupation is seeing increased digitalization, including previously low-digital jobs, such as social and human service assistants.
  • Obtaining these technical skills creates a pay differential—a salary of $72,896 for high-digital jobs vs. $30,393 in low-digital occupations.

Pittsburgh, Charlotte, and Washington, D.C., standout for their focus on inclusive technological education and training.

  •  Cities are encouraged to focus on how software and IT industries are changing all industries e.g. retail, healthcare, office administration, and mechanics.
  • Everyone should be fluent in basic, everyday tech and the enterprise software that’s running the bulk of American offices.
  • Digital adoption and computerization is one of the biggest drivers of change and economic outcomes of our time, similar to the Industrial Revolution.


2. Automation and AI are eliminating jobs but also creating jobs – and in some very surprising places e.g. farming. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics biennial report)

The top 3 job creators for the next 10 years:


  • The biggest growth in total number of jobs with hundreds of thousands of positions for personal care and home health aides forecast to be created in the coming decade.


  •  The two fastest-growing occupations are in renewable energy: solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine service technicians. But these areas employ a small number of workers.


  • Statisticians and software developers are needed to build the machines that replace traditional manufacturing jobs. One area that is especially hot: fulfillment centers for online retailers.
  • The most surprising math opportunities are in farming where precision agricultural technologies are being utilized. Overall, as farms get larger, the number of ag-tech workers is expected to grow.

Read on below for more on the surge in jobs related to bitcoin, top “side hustles”, WeWork’s newest acquisitions, and how the workforce has changed over the last decade.


3. Bitcoin-related jobs are booming – up 82% in last quarter


Not only is Bitcoin skyrocketing on the stock market (almost $12,000 as I write this vs. $6250 a month ago), Bitcoin-related jobs are the fastest growing on Freelancer.com. LinkedIn also reports a more than 500% increase in the listings of skills pertinent to cryptocurrency.

Jobs listed most frequently:

  • Designers of new types of cryptocurrencies
  • People to create new cryptocurrencies and write proposal plans for technologies employing blockchain
  • Cryptographers (coders who scramble plaintext into ciphertext) – up 59% in the third quarter

Besides bitcoin job listings, other top employee abilities that companies sought were:

  • Adobe InDesign
  • 3D design
  • creative design
  • web language HTML5
  • e-commerce platform WooCommerce


4. How the U.S. workforce has changed over the last decade (since the Great Recession began in 2007) (Source: Pew)

A smaller share of Americans are in the labor force.

  •  In December 2007, 66.0% were employed or actively looking for work.
  • As of 2017, 62.7% were employed.
  • Reasons for the decline: retiring boomers, more years spent in school, fewer less-skilled jobs, “flight from work” especially among men (an estimated 524,000 jobless reported not actively looking for work because they’re discouraged about their prospects).

There’s more gray in the workforce.

  • Workers 55 and older make up 23% of the total labor force up from 18% at the start of the Great Recession.
  • 35- to 54-year-olds now account for 41% of the labor force, down from 46% in 2007.

The unemployed are out of work for longer.

Quick reminder: The government data only count you as “unemployed” if you don’t have a job and have actively looked for one in the past four weeks and are currently available for work.

  •  Of the 6.2 million Americans who were officially considered unemployed in October 2017, more than 1 million (16.5%) had been out of work for a year or more vs. 9.1% in 2007.

The shift toward service jobs continues, though more slowly.

  •  84% of all private-sector nonfarm jobs are classified as service-providing, up from 81% a decade ago.
  • The share of jobs in goods-producing sectors – mining, logging, construction and manufacturing – fell from 19% in 2007 to 16% in 2017.
  • The number of goods-producing private-sector jobs has fallen by 1.8 million since 2007; over that same period, the economy added 10.5 million service-sector jobs.
  • The health care and social assistance sector was the biggest single contributor to that growth, adding 3.6 million jobs for a gain of 23%.

A 2016 Pew Research Center analysis found that the job categories with the highest growth over the past several decades tend to require higher social skills, analytic savvy and technical prowess. This reality is not lost on U.S workers, the vast majority of whom say new skills and training may hold the key to their future job success.


5. Half of millennials – and a quarter of boomers – have a “side hustle”

GoDaddy’s research found the leading reason for people to have a side hustle is the need for more money.

  • Online selling is the leading hustle for both age groups.
  • Boomers more likely to tutor students or consult; millennials more likely to do something involving clothing and accessories.
  • Half of millennial side gigs and 31% of boomer hustles involve selling items on and offline.
  • Millennials bring in slightly more each month than baby boomers ($258 vs. $234)
  • 70% of millennials use a dedicated website and/or social media to promote their side hustle, versus 36% of boomers.
  • Demonstrating the increased normalcy of side hustles, 41% of millennials have shared it with their employers without fear of managers reacting negatively to their second gig.
  • Baby boomers spend 15 hours/week on their side hustle, while millennials spend 12 hours.
  • For many, the side hustle is more enjoyable than their main form of work.
  • 52% of those with side hustles hope it will soon turn into their day job.


6. Northeastern Launches “Semester in Silicon Valley” entrepreneurship program

This highly experiential program lets students take courses in entrepreneurship and business while working at local startups, launching their own businesses, and networking with alumni and other professionals in the area.

Students in the first cohort have raved about the program.

  • Tian Xia, a second-year student from China with a combined major in computer science and business, enrolled in hopes of one day starting a company.
  • In class, he is developing a digital platform to help construction companies improve communication throughout a project.
  • Outside the classroom he is interning two days a week at TeleSense Inc., an IoT company that provides real-time monitoring of food quality and safety.


7. WeWork is rapidly building a community-based lifestyle brand


Going to the office isn’t what it used to be and no company has capitalized on this more than WeWork.

  • Expanding its “community building” mission, WeWork has begun a handful of “co-living” spaces that offer some of the same perks as its offices.
  • They’ve also recently acquired the online social network Meetup and the Flatiron School, which provides online and offline classes and training.


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