The global drone industry is getting bigger annually and becoming more mainstream.
That means the global competition for qualified and talented professional pilots and support staff is only getting started.
In fact, according to leading research publication, Drone Industry Insider, job openings rose by 15% in 2020 with similar results expected to be revealed soon for 2021.
Compared to many industries, Covid-19 accelerated the time-line for drone adoption and technology.
Instead of 10-year forecasts for drones delivering packages, crucial supplies and new services; the race to deliver is on.
For example; Zipline, famous for delivering medical supplies in Africa is using the same technology and processes to deliver packages for Walmart in November 2021.
While the technology, regulations and processes are still being figured out; the past couple of years have re-invigorated the sector with new ideas; technology and belief. Read about it here:
In such an exciting market; the biggest growth in jobs has been in hardware (18%) and services (8%) according to Drone Industry Insights. As the sector builds, what does it mean for the future?
Expected to grow to $63.5BN by 2025, the global drones-as-a-service sector is growing rapidly and is matched by the growth in consumer drone delivery, which is expected to reach 29 million by the end of 2021.
Biggest Opportunities for Business and Jobs
The largest opportunity for jobs is in the drones for enterprise sector. This is loosely defined by any sale of drone to business for use in their operations. According to this definition, total shipments are set to reach 2.4 million by next year (2023) – an astonishing compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 68%. This growth is expected to take place across 5 segments: agriculture, construction and mining; insurance, media and telecoms, and law enforcement.
Agriculture produce consumption is set to rise 69% according to UN reports by 2050, as the global population reaches 9.7BN. In such an environment, the use of technology and particularly intelligent systems in precision farming is a vital ingredient to ensure success and yield. Current applications for drones in agriculture include crop and livestock monitoring, irrigation management, and fertilization – DroneFly estimates that drones can spray fertilizer 40 to 60 times faster than doing so by hand.
Drones in Construction, Engineering and Mining
The usage of drones in the mining sector has flourished particularly in South Africa. Driven by companies such as Rocketmine, the deployment of drones for surveying, safety, blasting and multiple applications across the entire value chain. As technology has improved, drones have become invaluable to mining as they help reduce costs, improve safety and productivity and output. Ultimately this has resulted in more jobs and economic output.
From a construction, engineering and development perspective, the sector is growing and becoming more common place. The biggest obstacle has been to create effective regulation frameworks for use in urban areas. However, as improvements in regulation are made and private sector innovation takes root, this sector is set to flourish. From health and safety; digital twins; remote project management, inspections and more; drones for construction and engineering are the future. And as the population of the world becomes more urbanized, the need for drone pilots and services specialized in the sector could ultimately result in it becoming one of the biggest users of technology.
In 2021, natural disasters cost the insurance industry $121 BN according to Munich RE, the world’s largest re-insurer (read more). Total losses not covered by insurance are estimated at $280BN. With the rate of natural disasters increasing and attributed to global warming and other causes, the insurance industry is increasingly turning to drones to survey hard to reach locations immediately after disaster hits. Ultimately, drones are able to help assessors process claims faster than historical processes.
Drones are able to help communities safer, especially rural. Most commons applications include surveillance, pursuit of suspects, crowd management, hostage negotiation and bomb threat investigation to name just a few applications. In India, police officers used drones to promote social distancing in 2021. In compared to helicopters; that are costly and in limited supply, drones enable police officers to create new methods of preventing crime and keeping them safe in the course of their duties.
The last word
Drones are adding value to a number of industries and provide exciting job prospects in key industries. And while mining, construction, policing, and agriculture are creating the most jobs, the opportunities for qualified pilots and industry professional are also likely emerge in unexpected areas.
The likelihood of the next unicorn drone company and service company are likely to have been founded in the past two years, as passionate hobbyists picked up a drone for the first time. And while the being a qualified is not a prerequisite to founding a successful drone business; having an accredited license is good start and makes business sense.