What happens to the petrol station when we all have electric cars? - Career HQ
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What happens to the petrol station when we all have electric cars?

With so many of us exploring the future of work and what that will look like for ourselves and/or our children, are there lessons to be learned by looking back at industries and roles that are now in steady decline or have disappeared altogether? 

Data on declining and growing industries is available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). A recently published comparison of employment figures by industry from the Sydney Morning Herald uses census data from 2011 and 2021.

Whilst not the most important factor in selecting a career, the outlook for a given industry and/or occupation is a significant consideration to take into account.

Is a role or industry that’s reliant on one piece of equipment or product a sustainable one and what could it mean for my career path? For example, the video hire industry has completely disappeared, as has photographic film processing roles, as technology has moved on from film cameras and videotapes. The tobacco based products industry is in severe decline as the number of smokers, particularly in Australia, has fallen heavily. There used to be a whole sector of the publishing industry based on producing phone books with business or personal phone numbers in them. Now people use the internet to look up phone numbers and contact details. 

Industries will continue to change and differ in their outlooks as technology, environment and other factors shape their futures.

People’s increasing interest in and awareness of environmental issues also plays a part in some of the declining industries. Take for example the moves to transition from petrol to electric vehicles. This will have a significant impact on employment numbers and the types of occupations in the fuel manufacturing and retailing, and vehicle servicing sectors. Master mechanics servicing petrol vehicles can expect to have to retrain or face reduced employment opportunities. And related occupations will face similar challenges.

The transition from fossil fuels to clean energy (solar, wind, hydrogen etc) and the implications for the mining sector are other examples with similar implications. 

The dairy industry is also in decline for various reasons, however the change from cows milk to plant based alternatives is a clear part of that reason, with dairy regulatory bodies in Australia, South America and the USA all citing the issue..

While various industries are declining, clearly replacement industries are growing. Clean energy, the production of plant based milks, new photographic technologies and new media streaming platforms are all expanding areas with increasingly expanding careers and opportunities.


The last decade has shown that almost any industry can be disrupted, particularly those dependent on one product and so being aware of industry trends, keeping an open mind about how your skill set can be applied and being prepared to retrain are all important.