Since I began doing my syndicated workplace column more than 15 years ago, I've often interviewed Gerald Celente, founder of The Trends Research Institute, about workplace trends in the coming year.
When I spoke with him recently, he told me that a large newspaper that normally also interviews him wouldn't be doing so this year. The reason: the reporter who usually did the story had taken a buyout package and the newspaper was now too short-staffed to have someone talk with him and do the story.
What a depressing way to start the year, I thought. Another journalist who has basically been forced out of an industry that is struggling to survive.
Still, Celente and I spent some time talking about career trends, and there are some bright spots on the horizon. So, if you're thinking of finding a job this year, founding a new business or making making a career change, here are some trends that you should be aware of, according to Celente:
* A heavily-armed criminal class means more people are afraid of what is out there. Surveillance equipment, gates, bars, anti-theft devices, attack dogs, security guards, indentity theft products and anyone or anything that promotes "protection" will be in demand.
* There's room for the little guy. The failure of large institutions (government, corporate, medical, education and religious) means that there's room for entreprenuers to move in. Celente says the key is understanding the delivery of goods and services "with price points that appeal to the 'affordable sophistication' sector of the marketplace. "
* Demand for "smart" goods grow. The old adage of "waste not, want not" will be seen as a "sensible solution for enhancing the quality of life and building a more prosperous future." Conservation experts will be in high demand, and schools teaching these skills will attract more students. There will be an entreprenuerial explosion in goods and services that offer a way to reduce fuel and utility bills.
* Return to the neighborhoods. Communities that offer opportunities for workers to live and work in a small-town atmosphere will be greatly appealing, as more people are burned out and fed up with long commutes and the daily rat race.
* Appeal of natural remedies. Anything that is deemed "naturally healing" to the body, improves the mind is danger free and can be self-adminstered will continue to thrive. Physicians who "teach" their patients to become healthier will attract patients.
* Being tuned-out will exact a price. Spending more time on social networking sites instead of keeping abreast of the world's events and news through books and the news will hurt workers' abilities to understand how current events will affect business trends, decreasing their value to an employer.