A changing world is never completely predictable … but it is not hard to identify a few emerging trends that have already resulted in massive change – change destined to impact the future. Success for individuals, businesses, and governmental entities will depend on how quickly new trends and changes are recognized … because some adapting will be required.

Most recognizable changes are predominately the result of pandemic trauma, population growth, technology innovation, and political discourse. But, despite their origin, they will significantly impact how we live, how businesses remain successful and how government will serve citizens in the future. Recognizing the shifts and adapting quickly is wise because surprises are rarely good. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to let change slip up slowly on unsuspecting citizens, taxpayers, organizations, industry leaders, and public officials.

As a way to avoid surprise, here are a few strong trends worthy of note.

Growth in the private sector will be languid in 2022 and likely sluggish in 2023. Jobs will require higher skills, and technology advances will dominate a majority of individual, industry, and governmental decisions. Demand will remain strong, but supply chain disruption will continue. Political unease will not cease.  In spite of the negatives, government spending will escalate and bump up to historic levels over the next two to four years.

Collaborative initiatives between government and private-sector partners will increase significantly, and that escalation will begin in 2022. That’s because of the numerous new federal funding programs that include attractive tax incentives for investors willing to participate in public projects. Public-private partnerships and many types of collaborations will flourish. That’s simply a reality.

Some negative trends will continue. Worker shortages will linger. Childbirth in 51 states will be lower in 2022 with no immediate escalation in sight. Those trends will impact future workplace shortages. Businesses and government leaders will seek innovative ways to overcome the challenges, and technology is the likely solution because of its many attractive options.

Technology advances, however good, will disrupt specific types of career paths similar to the way the advent of ride sharing created painful repercussions for many small business owners who had invested heavily in expensive taxicab certifications.

Online shopping will continue to reduce the demand for retail sales representatives, but the ease and convenience online ordering has created not only created a dependence on the internet but also an expectation of how all services should be delivered. Citizens and taxpayers now want services to be more readily available and convenient.

Technology will continue to be disruptive for other career paths. Telehealth will change the way medical services are delivered, and autonomous vehicles will eventually eliminate the need for drivers in certain categories. Robots will become delivery agents. Cameras, alarms and drones will replace some security positions., Artificial intelligence will be used for numerous activities that once were handled by people.

The pandemic caused the demise of numerous small businesses, but many citizens became entrepreneurs as a result. New start-up companies now dominate the country, and assistance is becoming available to them through banking, online training, coaching consultants, and governments. Career options are changing and will be structured differently in the future.

Innovation is alive and well, and with an abundance of opportunities for growth, equity firms and investor groups are focused intently on the multi-trillion-dollar government marketplace. They are buying, merging, consolidating, and creating companies to compete for government contracts. Competition is increasing fiercely, forcing a greater understanding of the unique culture of public sector organizations.

Rural areas in every state have suffered, but new federal funding is designed to boost many types of economic enhancements for those communities. Local government leaders in small and rural regions are launching visionary projects that will require private-sector partners. These economy-boosting and job creating projects will focus on the improvement of water, transit, clean air, renewable energy, health care, public safety, and education systems. Other projects focused on boosting revenue for cities and counties will likely be related to the construction of facilities that provide tourist-attracting events. Private-sector partners will be eligible for multi-year tax incentives for participating and investing in projects such as these.

The need for leading edge technology will always be great, but it has escalated significantly over the past two years. Innovative technology related to big data was boosted significantly by the pandemic. Mandated reporting of disbursement of drugs, vaccines, masks, and wellness equipment spurred innovation and data capture and analysis were in high demand. Big data technologies are destined to change the foundational structures of government in many other ways as well – planning, public safety, health care research, transportation, emergency management, and more.

Technology enhancements and modernization have impacted governments throughout the world. Artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and data collection solutions have all advanced to center stage. Sensors are now so ubiquitous they are almost unattainable. ‘Technology rocks the world’ became a chant – sometimes expressing success but often expressing fear and occasionally rage.

Data collection is now at the intersection of trumping privacy. Medical research, public safety databases, new voting mandates, and mobility planning – these critical citizen services will continue to require data capture and data mining. The good news for those who worry about ‘Big Brother tracking’ is that big data capture and analysis is not individual specific. Instead, it only represents combined non-specific counts that facilitate planning and research initiatives.

Population growth is already driving change at a rapid pace. Immediate needs include new school facilities, more trained educators, enhanced water delivery capabilities, power grids that rely on renewable energy sources, health care clinics that are accessible to all communities, affordable housing, greater public safety networks, and expanded emergency services.

Recognizing the critical nature of rapid growth, especially when coupled with the recent ravages of climate change, the federal government has launched new funding programs that incentivize private-sector involvement with public projects. Other new federal funding rules will contain significant competitive benefits and advantages to bidders offering value propositions relating to sustainability, clean air, equity, and diversity.

We live in a changing world, and as successful individuals, industry leaders and public officials find ways to adapt quickly, monitoring current trends will be helpful.

Mary Scott Nabers

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.