The employment landscape could look very different in 2030.

That’s according to Chris Matz, general manager of Menards in Farmington. He wore a different hat on Thursday during the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce Business and Community Luncheon – speaking not on his work at the home improvement retailer.

Instead, Matz was invited by the chamber to speak on “embracing technology” – and the impact the ever-evolving technological world will play on future employment.

Candy Zarcone, public relations coordinator for the chamber, introduced Matz to those in attendance and noted she heard the presentation at Mineral Area College on technology and the impact it is predicted to make on life and employment in the next 10 to 20 years.

Matz has worked for Menards for 15 years – working at seven different locations in three states. He has worked in management for 10 years and Zarcone said his management philosophy is that a company’s employees are their most valuable asset.

His interest in technology and its impact on the future is an ongoing personal interest, Zarcone said.

Matz said it is evident technology is here to stay and he noted the assimilation it’s made into today’s society.

Jobs in the future, Matz believes, will be largely based in the technology field – something he said can be hard to accept by certain individuals.

“I’ve had discussions with several folks who have no interest with smartphones, computers, things of that nature,” he said. “But, it’s not a phase. It’s not going away. We have to realize we have to adapt to this or we are going to be facing dire circumstances … not only as a community, but as a nation and a world.”

Matz used the smartphone as an example of how certain items are now contained within one phone.

“You had a calculator, you had a road map, you had a camera,” he said. “They’re all on here now. You can literally look everything up.” 

He noted the advances in education made possible through technology.

But, he said, it is important to hold on to interpersonal skills which can be lost through the electronic way of life.

Examples of the slow assimilation of technology into the work world were presented by Matz and included the use of drones for farming, self-service check-out lanes and fast-food order kiosk – with cashier and wait staff jobs taking a “catastrophic” hit. He noted a statistic from money.cnn.com stating 80,000 fast food jobs will disappear by 2024.

He shared a statistic from Oxford University stating 40 percent of the current jobs in the United States are on pace to be phased out by 2030 – with four out of 10 jobs reassigned to automated bots by that time, according to fortune.com.

But, he said, jobs for those to maintain, fix and program the equipment will grow.

“We just have to educate ourselves as well as our youth to go into those fields,” he said. “…as those fields go away, other fields will start to advance” noting the importance of a willingness to learn new skillsets.

Fields which are safer include nanny, counselor, clergy, chef, executive leader and soldiers – but Matz believes discussions of using drones in the battlefield is becoming more commonplace.

Matz also spoke on the ride-sharing company Uber and the exploration for the use of driverless vehicles.

“Driverless cars are not just a ‘Jetsons’ TV show anymore,” he said. “This is something that is going to be hitting us … and hitting us quickly.”

Matz noted 2030 is said to be a “D-Day” for a huge push in the areas of driverless vehicles – noting the tech giant Google is also exploring the possibility.

He said changes in the workplace have evolved as well. Just five years ago, Matz said, associates with their cell phones on the sales floor at his company would receive a disciplinary action.

“Now, you can’t do your job without your cell phone on you,” he said. “You have to use the store’s app that can scan a product right there. You can tell how many you have in the store and how many all 306 other locations have just by using your smartphone and scanning the bar code.”

In addition, the online store for his retailer is the number one store in sales company-wide.

“We have stores that do tens of millions of dollars,” he said. “The online store blows them all away.”

Matz said he requires his managers to take part in a training called “Generation Differences” – bridging the gap between the four generations working together.

Keys toward success in the future include keeping ahead of the game, adaptability, flexibility, resourcefulness, training/continuing education and diversity.

Matz also shared a strategic battle plan to prepare for the changes in the years ahead, which includes education, continued training, business modeling and motivation.

“Motivating has to be at the top of our list of tools that we use,” he said. “Everybody in this room is a leader in some way, shape or form. We have to continue to lead from the front and let everyone know this is something they don’t just have an option of learning.

“If they want to be successful in the United State in the year 2025, 2030 and beyond – this is something they have to get on board with and we can teach them.”

Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or srobinson@farmingtonpressonline.com

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