Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Predicting the Future

Similar to the end of World War II, 1989, 1990, and 1991 were major watershed years. The most momentous change was the disintegration of the Russian Empire which actually began more than a decade earlier; 1989 merely confirmed it was over.

While communism did not end, it did undergo some radical transformations that may alter its ideology, structure, tactics, and following forever. More importantly, the political and economic changes taking place in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central America, and China will result in a fundamentally restructured international environment for government and business. It will also result in new job opportunities in countries that were previously closed to non-communist societies.

Certain trends for international employment are evident based on knowledge of past patterns, current needs, and predictions of future developments in a restructured international arena. We see nine broad trends developing during the next decade:

  1. A changing world order attendant with new populist regimes in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of new nation-states; renewed economic rivalry between the U.S. and Asia; continuing poverty and political turmoil in Third and Fourth World countries; and the expansion of drug wars and terrorism in the Third World will result in new public policy initiatives and hiring emphases within government as well as among consultants, contractors, nonprofit organizations, and research groups.

  2. Eastern European as well as Third and Fourth World countries remain major political, military, and economic trouble spots during the next decade due to a combination of ethnic strife, factionalism, poverty, and the incapacity to develop because of ineffective bureaucracies, lack of organizational and political capacity, and economic turmoil..

  3. Government employment within the Defense Department declines substantially but remains steady and increases somewhat for other government agencies that extend their missions into newly opened countries.

  4. "Cold war careers" decline substantially while criminal justice and legal careers increase markedly in response to changing international realities.

  5. Jobs with the Defense Department, defense contractors, and the United States Information Agency as well as amongst traditional intelligence agencies decline as priorities shift to combating illegal drug trafficking and terrorism.

  6. A large number of international job opportunities open up in communist and ex-communist countries.

  7. Developing Third and Fourth World countries require greater international assistance as the economic situation in many of these countries worsens.

  8. International jobs require more and more specialized and exotic skills, with a preference for individuals with technical and organizational skills.

  9. As more and more businesses expand their operations abroad and as many newly industrialized countries encourage continuing foreign investment and trade, the 1990s will become an explosive decade for multinational corporations, small businesses, and individual entrepreneurs seeking a piece of the rapidly expanding economic pie in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and the new nations in the former Soviet Union.
  10. International education and the travel industry will experience major growth throughout the 1990s in support of increased business expansion abroad as well as in response to a steady demand to visit new and exotic places.

These changes have important implications for those seeking international job and career opportunities. We see eleven major trends for the coming decade that will affect the way individuals approach the international job market:
  1. More international job opportunities will be available for those who know where the jobs are and how to find them.

  2. Greater competition will arise for international jobs as more and more individuals pursue international careers.

  3. With few exceptions, most international jobs will require highly specialized and technical skills.

  4. Educational preparation for international jobs should focus on combining language and area studies skills with marketable technical, business, and entrepreneurial skills. Some form of international experience prior to entering the international job market will also be helpful, be it in the form of an internship, study abroad program, or travel.

  5. Large corporations based in the U.S. and operating abroad will have few international job openings for entry-level workers because international jobs with such companies are part of a promotion hierarchy in which only highly experienced personnel are sent abroad for assignments for which local nationals are not available. Expect few job opportunities with established international firms that already have talented local staffs running their operations.

  6. The easiest and potentially most rewarding way to break into the international job market will be via nongovernmental and volunteer organizations working in developing countries or through educational institutions and the travel industry. Many jobs with these organizations require few technical and linguistic skills. The most important skills will be entrepreneurial in nature.

  7. Fewer traditional job opportunities will be available in natural resource exploration, manufacturing, infrastructure, and development in such ''favored" places as Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and much of Western Europe. Jobs in these countries will increasingly require business, trade, and entrepreneurial skills. Such jobs, however, will be available in less desirable and remote locations in Africa, South Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Contractors and consultants specializing in rural and urban infrastructurefrom dams, roads, and electrical and irrigation systems to public housing, water and sewer systems, mass transit, and waste disposalas well as local government services will find numerous job opportunities as population pressures place continuing strains on underdeveloped infrastructure and public services. Engineering, architect, construction, and public administration skills will be in demand.

  8. The most effective international job searches will require networking skills for developing job leads and identifying vacancies. Responding to publicized job listings and using international "placement" services will be the least effective approach to finding an international job. The ubiquitous "connection" acquired through networking will prove most effective.

  9. International career patterns will remain unstable and unpredictable as individuals frequently move between short-term jobs in different country settings.

  10. 10. Many international jobs, especially in Third and Fourth World countries which are home to nearly 80 percent of the world's population, are increasingly dangerous given increased political instability and terrorism in these countries.

  11. New job opportunities in Eastern Europe and the new nations of the former Soviet Union will be disappointing as the economics in these areas continue to founder and become major losses for foreign investors. The greatest number of new job opportunities will be with businesses in the rapidly expanding Asia and Pacific Rim regions. Western Europe and Latin America will also offer many job opportunities for enterprising job seekers.