Taxis, Trucks and Career Navigation

Remember the first time you took a ride-share like Uber?  For me, it was in New York City leaving Penn Station in a torrential downpour, and avoiding the taxi line-up that had 75 people in it.  That felt good!

I think about taxis a lot these days, because I also love to use Uber when I want a quick, simple transit from here to there during my travels.  I feel bad for the taxi drivers, because they’re in a profession that is being overtaken by technological disruption.  Did you know that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 233,000 or more taxi/driving jobs in the U.S., and the number of drivers is projected to increase by 14 percent over a ten-year

But are those jobs actually going to materialize?  In fact, the number of drivers might peak even faster and higher than that projected.  Uber launched in 2009, but by December 2015, they had over 350,000 drivers who picked up at least four passengers a month. [2]  That, in itself, is a lot more than reported through the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Ride-sharing is a completely disruptive technology and the statistical system has a hard time keeping up with the current numbers.

Disruptive Technologies that Shake Up Disruptive Industries

Here’s a twist.  At the same time that Uber and Lyft are disrupting the driving industry, enter “Google Self-driving Cars.”  Beginning in 2009, Google began prototyping self-driving technologies in California, and then continued their testing in New Mexico.  Now the self-driving phenomenon is really gaining speed.[3]  In Summer 2016, Uber designated Pittsburgh as its first market where it would begin marketing self-driving Uber service.[4]  Also, in Summer 2016, the city-state of Singapore said it would begin piloting the use of self-driving taxis across the city, as part of an overall strategy to reduce traffic congestion.

We are starting to envision (or fear) a time in the not too distant future where individual human taxi drivers and the ride-sharing drivers compete with self-navigating cars that don’t need to pay a human driver.

Get the idea?  There could be a few hundred thousand Americans who were employed either full-time or part-time as a passenger driver, who – because of auto-driving, will either make a lot less income or be out of work altogether.

Next — the self-driving semi-rig.  In October 2016, a new truck driving start-up, Otto, partnered with Anheuser-Busch to guide a self-driving semi-tractor on a 120 mile-run through Colorado.[5]  We can begin to envision a day when self-driving rigs make their way across the country, and then are met by a local driver who navigates them up to their final destination at a warehouse or shipping dock.  Note:  There are about 2 million semi-trucks on the road in the U.S., so this development endangers a couple million big-rig jobs.

Building Adaptability in our Youth and Youth Adults

Our world is changing faster than ever because of these disruptive technologies.  Every career we can think of will be dramatically impacted by technology, incrementally perhaps, or dramatically, as with the realm of passenger driving.

Our youth need to come out of schools and college with the knowledge and tools to navigate a career over the decades.  This is not a “once and done” activity of identifying a career interest and a college program.  That might get them through the first few years, but won’t be sufficient for an entire career.

In next week’s post, I’ll talk more about developing the Career Navigation Mindset.

Until then, happy driving (or ride-sharing)!

Hans Meeder is President and Foundation of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions.  (  NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems.

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

[2] Carson, Biz. (2015), Why there’s a good chance your Uber driver is new, October 24, 2015, Business Insider, Retrieved at:

[3] Waymo, Google Self-Driving Car Project.  See:

[4] Fung, Brian (2016), Uber’s self-driving car: Prepare to be thrilled and bored at the same time.  September 14, 2016.  Washington Post.  Retrieved at:

[5] Della Cava, Marco (2016), Self-driving truck makes first trip – a 120-mile beer run.  October 26, 2016.  USS Today.  Retrieved at


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