No one is predicting the next big thing when it comes to the job market. Job growth is more likely to be for the better trained and flexible people in fields we already know exist.

Kevin Niedermier

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No one is predicting the next big thing when it comes to the job market. Job growth is more likely to be for the better trained and flexible people in fields we already know exist.
     The employment landscape has shifted dramatically since many students began their college careers four years ago, and experts expect it to continue to change " even after the recovery.
    In 2005, freshmen studying information technology were basically guaranteed a job after graduation. Not today.
    Sam Myocca, a recent Cleveland State University information technology graduate, is finding out the hard way. Though he has had two job leads in the past two months, they both fell through due to his lack of experience in the field.
    "I got to as far as the second interview, and then the door slammed," Myocca said. "I have some optimism, but as far as it goes, it looks like a lot of these companies are big on the whole experience thing. You really need to make sure you're doing internships before you finish your degree, otherwise it's a really tough sale."
    Information technology jobs still will need to be filled four years from now, said Keith Ewald of the Ohio Department Jobs and Family Services. But the type of those jobs will shift.
    "Not so much programming but more of a technical or management position such as network analysts or computer software engineers or things like network and computer system administrators," Ewald said.
    Likewise, Ewald said Ohio will still have manufacturing jobs, but those jobs, too, will increasingly require higher skills to operate more advanced equipment.
Where will the jobs be?
    During this economic downturn, many college students are choosing majors based on jobs that are in that field now. But when the economy starts improving and businesses start hiring again, how different will the job market be?
    Projecting when and where job growth will occur is often a matter of educated guesses. So colleges and universities are doing what they can to prepare students for an uncertain path.
    Mary Jane Saunders, provost at Cleveland State University, said that the school's curriculum has been adjusted to make retraining or finishing up a degree easier for a growing number of adult students. Many are enrolling after layoffs. The school's also adjusting to growing fields, such as physicians' assistants.
    "Recently, the academic qualification for licensure went from needing an associate degree to needing a master's degree," Saunders said. "So, there's a lot of pent up demand for that program because the people who are the physicians' assistants who only have the associate degrees have to come back and get a master's degree."
    Ewald said other fields, especially those linked to Ohio's aging demographics and public policy changes, also will see growth.
    "Everything from physical therapists to registered nurses, respiratory therapists, dental hygienists, things of that nature," Ewald said. "When you get into the bachelor's degree and higher, there are many educational areas such as kindergarten teachers and elementary school teachers, [they're] expected to do quite well."
    Add to the expected-to-grow list: public relations and marketing, and financial management for large companies. Ewald said as businesses recover from the recession and the global marketplace grows, more financial expertise will be needed to navigate the intricacies.
    Ewald expects "more complex relationships with multiple companies working together in a particular area.
    "It could be issues related to international business and trade, it can be related to financial arrangements, legal contractual arrangements," Ewald said.
Green trends
     Jim Carroll of Toronto is a futurist who studies trends and tries to predict what lies ahead. He believes the growing interest in alternative energy and "green" products will generate new jobs in coming years, but not just in obvious ways such as building wind turbines and solar panels.
   For example, "there's a lot of very unique research and development occurring out there having to do with packaging," Carroll said. "And what that leads to is new products coming to market. It involves new companies, it involves new growth industries. ...So, what you're going to have is the emergence of new companies with a new mind set developing these new products to meet new societal demands. And when you look at that, that's where some of the job growth is going to occur."
    Carroll said companies must closely watch for trends that can be turned into new jobs. But, not everyone has the resources of a big company to find and capitalize on the next big thing. For individuals planning to train for new careers, Carroll advises they pursue jobs that are evolving in areas like health care. "Patient navigators," for example, are increasing in demand.
 "It's a doctor or a nurse or a medical professional or someone with specific training who simply steers the patient through the complexity of the increasingly complex health care system," Carroll said. "It's estimated there's about 18,000 of these people in the US health care system today. It's estimated that number will grow to about 180,000 by the year 2015. That's the emergence of a new career.
    "And if you're thinking, 'Where are the jobs going to be in the future?' It's in things like that."

Here's the list by U.S. News of ahead-of-the-curve careers for 2009
  • Asian Business Development Specialist
  • Behavioral Geneticist
  • Computational Biologist
  • Curriculum/ Training Specialist
  • Data Miner
  • Emergency Planning Manager
  • Green-Collar Consultant
  • Health Informatics Specialist
  • Immigration Specialist
  • Offshoring Manager
  • Patient Advocate
  • Simulation Developer
  • Wellness Coach
U.S. News: Ahead-of-the-Curve Careers
Top 10 Fastest-growing occupations, 2006-16
Occupation 2006 Employment
(in thousands)
Projected 2016
(in thousands)
% growth Most significant source
of postsecondary education
or training
Network systems and data communications analysts 262 402 53.4 Bachelor's degree
Personal and home care aides 767 1,156 50.6 Short-term on-the-job training
Home health aides 787 1,171 48.7 Short-term on-the-job training
Computer software engineers, applications 507 733 44.6 Bachelor's degree
Veterinary technologists and technicians 71 100 41.0 Associate degree
Personal financial advisors 176 248 41.0 Bachelor's degree
Makeup artists, theatrical and performance 2 3 39.8 Post secondary vocational award
Medical assistants 417 565 35.4 Moderate-term on-the-job training
Veterinarians 62 84 35.0 First professional degree
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors 83 112 34.3 Bachelor's degree
Date courtesy: U.S. Department of Labor Statistics


Ohio labor statistics

Cleveland State University

Futurist Jim Carroll

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