Peaking around the corner: future trends across industry

In our last blog post we talked about a recent discussion with industry leaders in the Seattle region—experts in the fields of manufacturing, IT, healthcare and trade and logistics—who were asked a few deceptively simple questions, the first of which was: What are your biggest workforce challenges and how are you addressing those challenges? In this month’s post, we’ll explore the second question we asked which was: What are some future trends you are seeing in your field that may seem unrelated to your search for talent, but could certainly have an impact on talent acquisition?

Once we convinced them to put on their “futurist” hat, the predictions were keenly interesting and shed light on some fascinating trends that industry leaders are seeing up ahead.

Nearly to a person, the group shared some overarching trends and traits required in multiple fields including:

  • the need for a multi-skilled worker, or a “utility worker” as one healthcare industry leader called it. Given our increasingly complex world of work (and world in general), another leader called out the need for resiliency in all fields and occupations, and in fact, wanted to incorporate resiliency training into the world of work. Being nimble and adapting to change is now simply a part of any job in any field. The days of employees stating that “things are always changing around here!” as a complaint against company culture are simply gone.
  • Another trend that one life sciences leader harnessed was the challenge of data: big data and lots of it. “So much data…how do we manage it, track it and store it?” applies now to virtually every industry.

Another leader from the Transportation and Logistics field mentioned that now “every job is a tech job,” as our world becomes increasingly automated at every level in every industry. No one in the group expressed concern or significant regard that the automation and artificial intelligence trends would have a major impact on numbers of employees or the continued need for employees with soft and hard skills, at least not in the near term. With the evolution of Artificial Intelligence and all that it implies for our world AND for the Future of Work, this opinion is certainly in the minority and does a bit of tempering to those who are feeling the dread.

Another trend external to the specific fields but impactful to each nonetheless was the fact that ecommerce continues to be on such a growth path. Each industry uses it now to varying degrees of capacity and wants to be sure they are using it most adeptly and efficiently, and with security and peace of mind as top priorities.

We at Grant Associates applaud these industry leaders for their ability to be both savvy experts in their current industries’ day-to-day needs as well as “reading the tea leaves” for what the future might have in store for all of us in the world of work. We will continue to check back with these “anchor employers” to ascertain whether their predictions of trends impacting their industry come true, to what degree, and what might be next on the horizon.


Marlena Sessions is a workforce development professional who has dedicated her career to creating self-sufficiency via careers for all people. She is the Vice-President for Public and Private Partnerships for Grant Associates, a national workforce development company that has operated nearly 80 different workforce programs in communities of all sizes.