Will Two Billion Jobs Disappear by 2030?

Futurist Thomas Frey makes bold prediction about technology's impact on the job market

(Image: ThinkStock)

3D Printing

3D printing is a phrase used to describe the process of creating three-dimensional objects from a digital file using a materials printer, in a manner similar to printing images on paper. This rapid prototyping process allows users to create a prototype of a single product.

Thomas Frey’s Theory of Jobs Eliminated:

  • Clothing retailers eliminated because you can print customized clothes at home
  • Shoe manufactures eliminated because you can print customized shoes at home
  • Various construction industries would be eliminated due to people’s ability to print construction material, lumber, drywall, concrete, and other material on site

Thomas Frey’s Theory of Jobs Created:

  • 3D printer design, engineering, and manufacturing positions
  • 3D printer repairmen
  • 3D printer stylists, product designers, and engineers


Robots and automation that eliminates human jobs has been in development for a while. This argument has been discussed in relationship to the automotive industry and other manufacturing intensive industries.

Thomas Frey’s Theory of Jobs Eliminated:

  • Bots would replace fishermen, miners, farmers, and inspectors

Thomas Frey’s Theory of Jobs Created:

  • Robot designers, engineers, repairmen, dispatchers, trainers, and fashion designers

Here is my conclusion on Frey’s predictions: I find it very interesting when people attempt to predict the future but he does have some interesting thoughts that force you to think about technology and how it will disrupt industries and jobs. We have to prepare the next generation of workers for jobs that don’t exist today. To that point, I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of pushing the importance of STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics] education. Here is where I disagree: Frey’s belief that 3D printers will eliminate shoe and clothing manufacturers, and his theory about the elimination of teachers. I’m no futurist but I believe open courseware and solutions like iTunes U will positively impact the educational landscape moving forward.

You can click here to read Frey’s theories in full, then let me know your thoughts on his prediction for jobs in 2030 in the comments section below.

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  • Jon Hawkins

    I believe technology in multiple disciplines will continue to be disruptive, as well as, innovative as it has been for the past forty plus years.

    Some technology will become utilities, and , some will become novelties. I do believe technology will become more personal in use and be used to help people that handle people on a personal level, such as, teachers and healthcare professionals.

    Besides, as far as predicting the future of tech goes, I’m still waiting to see my 20xx Toyota Camry Low Level Flying Saucer, on the showroom floor!

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  • drclairenelson

    It is equally possible that  Frey may be wrong simply because he has not included the cultural and social and economic realities of most of the world in his assumptions.  I do not think communist China will allow robots to replace workers to the detriment of social order e.g. The uprisings in Arab world and Europe are  in large part due to the HIGH numbers of unemployed youth.. As a futurist,  what is critical for all of us Black intelligentsia is to construct our own Futures Think Tank.. Unfortunately our many  of our HBCUs seem logged down in the glory of the past.
    Dr. Claire Nelson
    Ideation Leader