Chain Reactions

Are Plant Managers Obsolete?

As scientific polls go, this one doesn’t even register since it’s basically just one of those “here’s what we think will happen” thinkpieces designed to be provocative, rather than anywhere near accurate. Still, taking that caveat into consideration, it’s a bit of a shock to see “plant manager” on a list of the top 10 job titles that could disappear in 2012.

According to, which is doing its extrapolating based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, the number of production managers in the United States will drop from 156,100 (2008 totals) to 144,200 in 2018, for a net loss of nearly 12,000 jobs over a period of 10 years. If those projections play out, that would represent a 7.6% decline in total number of plant managers. Not exactly a sure sign of extinction, but not exactly great news, either... especially if you’re a plant manager.

The culprits of this decline are our old friends “automation” and “offshoring,” neither of which is likely to lessen in impact any time soon. On the bright side (if you want to call it a bright side), mostly laments the loss of plant jobs to such industries as textiles, computers and auto parts, apparently not noticing that those manufacturing jobs left U.S. shores years ago. So maybe this isn’t so much a story of what could happen, but in fact a late-to-the-party awareness of what’s already happened. Keep in mind, too, that CBSnews completely ignores the recent trend of foreignshoring, where other countries are opening up plants right here, in the U.S., for foreign consumption.

Though CBSnews didn’t come right out and admit it, their study also indicates that another “doomed to disappear” job title by 2018 could very well be... CBSnews reporter. Two other titles on the list include newspaper reporters and broadcast announcers... just connect the dots between those two trends, and you could project that the very persons who wrote this article are themselves short-timers.

And if you absolutely detest your boss and believe he/she is running your company right straight over a cliff, cheer up: CBSnews believes that CEOs themselves are on the endangered species list.

Anyway, here's the full list of jobs said to be on their way out:
1. Judge
2. Fashion designer
3. Insurance underwriter
4. Travel agent
5. Newspaper reporter
6. Broadcast announcer
7. Plant manager
8. Chemist
9. Economist
10. CEO

TAGS: Supply Chain
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