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The Changing Face of American Labor

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Happy Labor Day! The last long weekend of the summer — an unofficial symbol for the time of year when swimming pools close and schools open — has been a U.S. holiday since 1894.

A lot has changed since then. A lot has changed in the labor market since 1994. Or 2014, for that matter. The long weekend is a great opportunity for American workers to reflect on how labor has changed over the last century, and how it continues to evolve in changing times.

Here are some of the most recent — and most influential — developments affecting various industries.

Customer service

Given recent changes in technology and demographics, customer service representatives have become some of the most versatile workers in the American economy.

As the retail industry moves to online sales, customer service representatives are expected to keep pace with the shift. That means keeping familiar with customer service duties on the phone, in chat windows, via email, or wherever and however customers need assistance. A significant — and largely positive — side-effect of these technological developments: many representatives now have the ability to work from home.

But it’s not just technology that’s changing the face of customer service. The population of the United States is growing more diverse, and as a result, representatives in certain geographic areas now need to be bilingual to serve valued customers.

For more information about developments in customer service, check out our previous article on the subject, “Ask Aerotek: New Careers and Opportunities in Customer Service.

Warehouse

As the retail industry continues its march toward online sales, warehouses are becoming more crucial to the distribution of goods. While that means more warehouse jobs, they may not look the same as they did in generations past.

“Automation” is a word many in the job market don’t like to hear. But it’s real, and it’s coming to a warehouse near you — if it’s not there already. Warehouse jobs once meant picking and packing from stacks of goods. Increasingly, warehousing now means managing and maintaining the automated machines who do that work for us.

The rise in automation doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can also represent opportunity. Now might be a good time to look into ways to stay ahead of the curve, such as through automation professional certificate programs.

Want to learn more about how automation is changing the workforce? Take a look at an article on the subject, “Working in America: The Onset and Impact of Automation.

Construction

There’s an old saying in the Windy City: “Chicago has two seasons: winter and construction.”

But with a growing trend toward year-round construction, that may no longer be the case in Chicago — or anywhere else for that matter. The change is a result of multiple developments. One is a surge in indoor construction related to HVAC installation and maintenance, pipe-fitting and welding. Another is the increasing popularity of all-weather concreting.

What does that mean for you? Any opportunity you have to develop expertise in these year-round areas will help keep the jobs flowing through months that have traditionally been lean.

To find out more about the growing world of year-round construction, read “The 365 Day Building Season – the Hidden World of Year-Round Construction.

Engineering

With the pace and scope of technological developments, the world of engineering trades is changing rapidly. After all, engineers build the networks and systems we all rely on.

One of the most prominent recent trends is the Internet of Things (IoT), the growing grid of millions of devices that use internet connectivity to do things like activate HVAC systems or analyze traffic patterns. The IoT is growing rapidly, and it needs engineers to help build, maintain and evolve it.

Want to be a part of the IoT revolution? Find out more about the phenomenon, and how you can use it to your advantage, in the article “What’s the Internet of Things – and How Do I get Paid to Build It?

Healthcare

Employment in the healthcare sector is surging; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that one in four new jobs available between 2014 and 2024 will be for healthcare support occupations and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations. In fact, more of the economy is devoted to healthcare than at any time in history. More than ever, American workers are healthcare workers.

And there’s also been a lot of change within the healthcare industry. Remember the Internet of Things? It’s transforming the delivery of healthcare, too. Medical devices are making use of new technology to provide more insight into patient care than ever before. Employers need workers who can build, maintain and use these devices.

Want to learn more about the tide of connected medical devices? Review recent insights on the subject in the past article “Attracting and Retaining Medical Device Assemblers.

Find out more

Labor in America is a lot different now than it was when then-President Grover Cleveland signed a bill that created the Labor Day holiday in 1894. And it’s probably going to be a lot different in the near future.

Want to keep ahead of trends and develop the skills you need for a lasting career? Talk to an expert in your area: Aerotek recruiters are always available to provide advice you can use.

And if you’re looking for a job, visit our job board to find your next great opportunity. Create a free career account today to customize your search.