This is the second of a three-part series discussing the future of the parking profession.
The previous article of the Careers in Parking series started off with three recent examples of significant new developments in the parking industry: a major industry association changing its name to reflect parking’s greater role in the mobility ecosystem; another industry association investing major efforts to bring parking into the conversation about easing congestion in cities and enhancing mobility overall; and then the rise of the first parking unicorn. And all this in just the past year.
So, trying to imagine what the future parking industry will look like, let alone the jobs that will exist in it, is no easy feat. Could you have accurately predicted 30 years ago some of the most common jobs today? Did you foresee popular jobs of today such as social media managers or Uber drivers?
The best any of us can do is look at the situation all around us – including those key driving forces I outlined in the previous installment of the Careers in Parking series – and make educated guesses to what needs parking professionals of the future will have to fill as people’s mobility preferences change, technology advances and parking has to solve new and more complex problems.
Where the Opportunities Lie in Parking
As the parking industry drives into the future, a diverse set of players and skill sets will be needed. The following are three types of roles with a bright future in parking.
1. Technical Jobs. Any specific talents or expertise that uniquely qualifies or enables you to perform a certain task or job will ensure you a spot in the parking industry.
Technical roles in parking that are not going away anytime soon include:
Data-Driven. Roles such as Data Analysts, Data Scientists and Data Engineers will be crucial to the success of all types of parking industry players from parking technology companies to private operators to municipal governments. Data professionals are key to helping a parking business or operation make better decisions though the collection and analysis of data.
Information Technology. These types of roles can range from a focus on delivering employee desk support to a focus on coding programs and developing new applications to a focus on providing product support to customers and clients.
Technical Sales. The need for professionals to sell parking industry products, services and solutions is assuredly a constant even though tomorrow’s sales jobs might look different than yesterday’s. The highest demand will be for professionals with strong technical skills and experience selling complex, software solutions or for professionals who have an extensive network of potential customers in a specific vertical – like healthcare, airports, or municipalities.
2. Positions in People Management.
The trend of organizations with a flatter structure may reduce some middle management, but there will still be a need for people to oversee, manage, and optimize the most important resource of a business – its human capital.
As such, jobs dealing with the management of people aren’t going away anytime soon. These roles can include managers who supervise front-line workers such as valets and attendants to human resource professionals that recruit employees, develop competitive compensation packages, and implement workplace policies and practices.
3. Strategic Partnership and Channel Development Functions.
There is ample opportunity in parking for professionals who cultivate and maintain relationships among business partners to maximize revenue, enhance the customer experience, and increase the overall competitiveness of a business.
Such roles aren’t relegated to the private sector either. P3 projects bring with them the need for professionals with strong collaboration and relationship management skills.
These opportunities are not a complete inventory of the types of jobs that will make up the future parking industry. The future holds countless opportunities that are in some way related to the roles just outlined and which may require a hybrid of skill sets across multiple job categories, as well as opportunities that are impossible to yet imagine.
Important Skills for Parking Industry Professionals.
Sometimes it can be more useful to focus on what types of skill sets will be the most crucial to remaining relevant and employable. The following are the top three skills for parking professionals:
1. Digital Fluency.
First and foremost, parking professionals need to be what is called ‘Digitally Fluent.’ Beyond just the technology advancements made specifically in our industry, most organizations and businesses have been transformed in some way to be more digitally driven.
This means being able to befriend your machines is a key skill for all levels, from front-line workers to C-suite executives. Chances are your job will require you to interact with a machine or computer in some way. The key to digital fluency is knowing the tools available to you and how to use them, as well as knowing which tool to use in which situation.
Being able to communicate effectively is a not so distant second on my list. After all, communication is what enables us to share information with others and understand what is said to us.
No matter what your job in the parking industry is, communication in some form or other will be a component of your role. Strong communication isn’t just a matter of proper use of grammar and language. You also need to be able to make a persuasive argument, explain complex ideas, motivate others, and clearly articulate your thoughts.
Perhaps one of the most undervalued skills that parking professionals need is curiosity. You may have heard that old saying, “Curiosity killed the cat.” However, the complete saying is, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” The cat may have died by being too curious, but the satisfaction of finding an answer brought it back to life. Remember that.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report that found that those born between the years of 1957 and 1964 held an average of 11.7 jobs between the ages of 18 and 48. And the number of jobs for generations born later is expected to increase. Chances are you don’t currently possess all the skills and attributes required to do a dozen or more jobs yet, and so, you will likely need to not only learn new skills along the way, but continuously keep them updated over time. And while those specific skills needed may differ from person to person depending on each individual career path – curiosity opens up our willingness to embrace new experiences, unknown situations, and different environments. At the heart of it, those with curiosity are willing to take risks with a possibility that the result may not be beneficial, but knowing that the learning process alone will add value.
Don't sit back and wait for your career to happen to you.
The types of jobs available and skill sets required in parking will continue to evolve in the coming years and the future looks bright for those who want a career in the industry. However, if one thing is for sure, it is that career success in our modern world requires an active approach. In the next and final installment of the Careers in Parking series, I will outline effective career management strategies for tomorrow’s parking professionals.
This article was originally published in the June 2019 issue of Parking Today.