In the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Pan Am offered direct flights from Earth to the moon. In the actual year 2001, not only were there no direct flights to the moon, there was no Pan Am. As someone once said, “Predicting the future is hard because it hasn’t happened yet.”

Still, we’ve once again asked several experts in the restoration field to do just that. These are knowledgeable folks who give their best predictions based on their insights and experience.

But the unexpected can always happen. I covered auto retail in 2001 and part of my jobs was to collect forecasts on new-car sales for the upcoming year. One analyst made a bold prediction, one that was well above the consensus. He looked foolish until the fall. Then, following the Sept. 11 attacks, the auto manufacturers introduced unprecedented incentives. At the end of the year, this guy was crowing about being the only one to accurately predict the final sales numbers.

As we’ve learned in recent years, much can happen that you don’t expect. Disease, wars and other disasters occur on their own schedule. No one should understand this better than those in the restoration business. Your entire field exists because the unexpected happens.

There is one projection about the future that seems fairly certain — the restoration business will face an even greater labor shortage by the end of the decade than it does now. The reason is simple math. There have been fewer babies born since 2007 as the U.S. has seen a double-digit decline in the birth rate during that period. That means fewer adults joining the workforce starting in 2025.

Restorers will need to increase their efforts to attract employees as a result and that means reaching out to underrepresented groups, such as women. While women make up 47% of the entire U.S. labor force, they comprise just 10.9% of the construction workforce, according to 2022 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To help encourage more women into this trade, our magazine annually presents the Women in Restoration award. Nominations are now open on our website. The winner will be named at Restoration Industry Association’s (RIA) International Restoration Convention & Industry Expo taking place April 24-26 in Orlando, Florida.

So please submit a nomination and have a happy new year.