Who is Southern oregon? The Growth Challenge
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FOR FORUM INFORMATION CONTACT
The Chamber of Medford & Jackson County
101 E. 8th St.Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847
WRITTEN BY
Rebecca Scott, copywriter and owner of RJS Writing Service. She creates blogs, articles, website, and social media content. With a background in writing, marketing, digital advertising and social media, her passion is writing content that jumps off the page.
January’s Forum focused on how different forms of growth will challenge Medford and the Rogue Valley in the decade to come. Presented by Jon Roberts, a principal and managing partner at TIP Strategies, much of the information struck a poignant chord with the audience. Roberts’ presentation began by showing the stark differences between people with a higher education and those without. He explained that people without a 4-year degree had a 4% unemployment rate, while people with at least a bachelor's degree were at 2.1% unemployment. “But why is there such an emphasis on college graduates?” Roberts asked. A college degree has become a stand-in for workforce reliability, Roberts explained, using the manufacturing industry as an example of this trend. Manufacturing dropped from 25% to 9% of all jobs in under 50 years, he said. “What could be completed manually can now be done better by machines, so manufacturing companies are looking for people with a higher education degree and more intellectual skills.”
To emphasize that rapid change is not a modern phenomenon, Roberts showed two slides of 5th Avenue in New York City — the former taken in 1900 and the latter in 1913. In the first picture, a single car was circled among a road filled with horses and buggies. The second photo was the same road, now with all cars and only one horse and buggy. Roberts explained rapid change has been happening throughout history — from the creation of the automobile, to commercial airliners, to technological advances. Additionally, he said there are positives and negatives one can attribute to such disruption, specifically in the next decade. On the upside, Roberts listed a few positives: cloud computing moving to edge computing, 5G enabling new platforms, IoT (Internet of Things), advancements in VR and AR, personal robotics becoming soft, and ditching the smartphone. On the downside, he listed scooters, disruption being exposed for the destructive force it is, political upheaval through the misuse of technology, exposure of vulnerabilities, and that if you are not online, you don’t exist. “The future is already here, but it’s not equally distributed,” Roberts added. There is also a restructuring of the workforce happening, said Roberts. He explained some of the trends affecting workforce demand are an aging workforce, the pace of technological change and the digitization of jobs. “But to reverse the worker deficit would involve using several politically-charged solutions, including raising the retirement age, liberalizing immigration, automating jobs and outsourcing work.” Roberts noted four important points before ending his presentation: the economy is changing, the composition of the workforce is changing, further disruption is inevitable, and the Rogue Valley has to be competitive to survive and grow. Quoting what he heard a Forum attendee say earlier in the day, “A community that doesn’t control its narrative cannot have a competitive edge.”
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January: outlook 2020
The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County
101 E. 8th St.  |  Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847

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