9 Workforce Trends Worth Knowing

In 1999 I coined the term “Perfect Labor Storm” to describe the multiple factors working in concert to create a critical shortage of workers.  At that time the situation was a bit different – more jobs were being created than we had available working age adults.

workforce trends to watch Well 16 years later, the Perfect Labor Storm is still alive and growing. While its consequences are still the same- employers struggling to find enough qualified workers. Today we have enough “bodies” but the quality and quantity of skills required is much more advanced. Today we have enough workers to fill every job and still have a surplus. The problem is that not every worker has the skills for the jobs being created.

What follows is a list of trends that every employer (and job seeker) should know. While the exact number or percentage of jobs is off a few digits or the timing is not exact, the trends are real. They are changing the future of work and the workplace as you read this. While the exact timing of the Perfect Labor Storm is always a work in progress, the path on which we are headed is inevitable.

1. Cheaper, better robots will replace human workers in the world’s factories at a faster pace over the next decade. Only 10 percent of jobs that can be automated have been taken by robots. By 2025, machines will take over 23 percent of jobs.

Source: Boston Consulting Group


2. Sophisticated algorithms could substitute for approximately 140 million full-time knowledge workers worldwide.

Source: The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation,  Frey and Osborne


3. Jobs employing up to 47 percent of today’s workers are likely to disappear by 2033.

Source: Trends Magazine, November 2013


4. Workers aged 55 and older will make up approximately 26 percent of the labor force by 2022; up from 14 percent in 2002 and 21 percent in 2012.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


5. Four out of 5 CEOs worry about availability of key skills

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP


6. Only 42 percent of executives believe that students entering the workforce are prepared for the available jobs; even worse, only 45 percent of these young people think that they are prepared. Maybe worst of all, 72 percent of education providers believe the young people are prepared.6.

Source: McKinsey and Company


7. Thirteen (13) percent projected increase in STEM jobs from 2012 to 2022

Six (6) percent projected increase in STEM graduates 2011-2019

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP


8. More than 80% of manufacturers report a moderate to severe shortage in highly skilled resources.

Source: Manufacturing Institute


9. The business community must face the reality that there is little slack in the U.S. labor market. As skills shortages grow, businesses will need to begin raising wages to attract and keep workers for the long term.

Source: Edward Gordon, Imperial Consulting Group


Ira S Wolfe


  1. […] (in 9 Workplace Trends Worth Knowing,) Ira Wolfe wrote about the troubling statistic between recent graduates (Millennials) and their […]