In the past, when the job market tumbled, laid off or downsized workers could reasonably expect to get their old jobs back when the economy recovered. They might have to take a position with a different firm, but there would still be demand for their skills and experience. The scary thing about today’s unemployment crisis is that the majority of the jobs that have been lost during the recession, particularly manufacturing jobs, are gone forever.

Economic analysts are warning that high unemployment could continue into the next decade because many unemployed workerIndustrial Revolutions do not have the technical skills needed to drive the increasingly digital workplace. Already, many of the jobs that previously relied on skilled labor or human oversight of automated processes have become fully automated. In the not too distant future, economic seers expect industrial plants to be staffed solely by computer engineers. Even in fields as people-oriented as hospitals and medical services, technology is replacing people as record-keeping, pharmaceutical management and medical testing go digital.

The changes now occurring in the U.S. job market are so pervasive and broad in scope that many analysts are referring to it as a new industrial revolution. And just as automation completely changed the world at the beginning of the previous century, the digital revolution is changing our world today. In practical terms, it means that unemployed American workers cannot afford to dwell in the past and cling to the hope of finding the kind of job they lost. It also means that workers who are currently employed cannot count on their job being there in the future.

America’s job market is in the midst of a paradigm shift. To protect their livelihood, America’s workforce is going to have to be proactive about diversifying their skills and creating employment opportunities.

Next time: How Zoondy can help