Where are the jobs?
Today, most are in the service sector. And that’s the forecast for tomorrow, too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, service jobs will continue to outpace employment in all other sectors for the next quarter century.
Let’s put some figures around that. Three service industries that will see an incredible 7.5 million new jobs by 2026 in the U.S. are healthcare and social assistance, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality. In fact, the bureau says more than 90% of the 11.5 million expected new jobs to be created by 2026 will be in service-providing industries.
Does Service Industry Equal Bad Jobs?
Ugh, service jobs? Don’t most service jobs offer low pay, casual shifts and next-to-no opportunity? No, actually. The fact is, many service sector jobs pay very well and are practically immune to automation or offshoring.
How much did you pay your plumber to install that new toilet and sink? What is the likelihood that a robotic electrician will come to your home to replace your 1950s wiring? Ask the same about the nurse practitioner you visited recently (instead of an MD), or the horticulturalists who designed and installed the plan for your new garden, or the chef who cooked up an amazing restaurant meal for you and your friends. All service jobs. All in demand. All well paid.
In short, the service sector is about supplying intangibles rather than goods. The sector is one of two major sectors in the U.S. economy. Reference for Business offers these sub-categories where the service jobs reside:
- Transportation, communication and utilities
- Wholesale trade
- Retail trade
- Finance, insurance and real estate
- Public administration
- Other services.
When you drill down further, the service sector is something you’d come into contact with throughout your life. Teachers, nurses, housekeepers, tour guides, lawyers, mechanics, tax agents, hairdressers, hoteliers, zoo keepers and gardeners are just some of the few trades and professions offering “services.”
Dead End? Just The Beginning!
Even so-called “dead end” service jobs have value. I prefer to call them “stepping stone” jobs to something better. Low-end service positions give unskilled young people a point of entry where they can develop workplace skills, a network, and eventually move up to something more challenging and rewarding.
The Service Sector Served Me
I’m speaking from experience. My stint as a chef served me well. After several engaging years of striving to perfect the art of cookery, I felt satisfied with my accomplishments and was ready for more. If working in kitchens taught me anything, it was that being a successful chef involved more than cooking. I also needed to learn about team work, marketing, customer relations, people management, and running a business. So I went back to school, eventually completing a master of business administration.
At first, I feared the years spent out of school would put me at a disadvantage to my conventionally educated peers. Instead, I found that the self-confidence and operational problem-solving abilities I’d developed through my culinary apprenticeship and work experience gave me unique perspectives and a point of difference in the classroom.
My stint as a chef wasn’t a “dead end” for me. I wasn’t settling for a mundane job. It was a great teacher, preparing me for bigger and better things. And it certainly didn’t close the door to academic learning and other possibilities.
So, don’t be so quick to dismiss the service sector. It offers more than you’ve probably been told, and it beats pulling the covers over your head and letting opportunity and life march by without you.
By Nicholas Wyman, Forbes Contributor.