2 Billion Jobs Could Disappear By 2030

March 6, 2012  |  

As if there wasn’t already a shortage of job opportunities in America right now, futurist Thomas Frey predicts that as many as 2 billion jobs could disappear by 2030.

Noting that the United States has already lost much of its manual labor force because of outsourcing to other countries, Frey says technology will likely be the culprit in the next wave of depleted jobs in the next 18 years.  There are five industries that are expected to take the biggest hit: the power industry, Automotive Transportation, Education, 3D Printing, and Bots, but with the changing infrastructure, new jobs—thankfully–will be created as well.

The most interesting of these areas is education. Online classes have become a common offering from most colleges and the University of Phoenix allows thousands of students to earn degrees virtually each year. The rise of iTunes U and the Khan Academy are expected to lead the way in this digital education. iTunes U offers more than 500,000 courses from 1,000 universities that have been downloaded more than 700 million times and they are absolutely free. Khan specializes in math and science, offering more than 2,400 courses that have been downloaded 116 million times. This trend has interesting implications for the future of education as classroom teachers get replaced by downloadable learning modules, not to mention the elimination of horrifically expensive student loans to get a degree. It’s not unfathomable that self-education by way of online training could become the norm, especially now that iTunes U is moving into the K-12 space and MIT is currently looking into developing similar education models.

It’s scary to think about the American workforce changing so rapidly within a short period of time but it’s really not unlike other times in our country’s past like the industrial period. Still, the effects of so much dependency on technology have yet to be seen.

What do you think about the idea of strictly virtual education or driverless cars like the one Google has already created? Will technology lead to a positive work force shift or a negative one?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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