Posting questions received from registered participants for ACS Careers Industry Forum teleconference by Bill Carroll. Please share your thoughts on this discussion topic.
"With the rapidly occurring changes present in the world today, how is it possible to forecast out to 2015 and beyond?"
I'm not sure who to quote--Yogi Berra is a good possibility--but he was right when he said, "Making predictions is difficult, especially about the future." Actually, it's easy to make predictions. The trick is being right.
There are only two ways to predict the future:
1) Things will go along largely as they are with some linear or quasi-linear extrapolation of the situation today
2) There will be a fundamental change or discontinuity
What we've seen in the last year is a discontinuity. The endless string of announcements of new petrochemical plants driven by cheap natural gas in parts of the world has slowed due to a shortage of capital. Demand is down, marginal plants also close, people deleverage and prepare for the personal worst.
Some things haven't changed. Developing countries still want to develop. There is an expanding need for materials and energy. We need smart people to figure out how to get us from where we are to where we need to go.
It is no less true that the developed world is aging, and that is also true for those who work in the chemical industry. There is a crying need for discovery and innovation, not least in the areas of energy and pharmaceuticals. I suspect that we're in for a couple of rough years in both employment and economy; but even with that said, there are opportunities out there.