When more than 700 leaders representing business, education and media attended Techonomy Detroit 2013 September 17th at Wayne State University in Michigan, the driving conversation was on jobs: specifically where they’re going and the changing expectations of employers in the years ahead.
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Successful leaders from companies such as Cisco, Twitter and General Motors honed in on today’s rapidly-evolving career landscape, spotlighting how technology-driven change is affecting cities in America, bringing both challenges and exciting opportunities. The Student Advisor editorial team was also there and shares the pivotal trends shaping America’s workforce over the next 5-7 years:
A workforce divided
There’s a seismic shift occurring right now that’s dividing America’s workers into very different worlds. The days of high pay for lower-level manual skills are gone. Today, lower-skilled workers are struggling to find jobs that will provide a sustainable livelihood to support their families, while those with advanced STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills are enjoying growing opportunities and compensation.
Too many jobs: not enough skilled workers
Despite millions of unemployed people still struggling to find work in today’s economy, a significant labor shortage is actually projected in the years ahead. The problem? Not enough skilled workers. An estimated 18 million open jobs will lack enough qualified applicants to fill them: there are 3 million open jobs in the U.S. right now. The reasons are varied: too few workers with needed STEM skills; the slower pace of new business startups and expansions post-recession; and the large number of workers not willing or able to relocate to job-centric regions.
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Fast-growth sectors in the next seven years
Along with in-demand STEM skills, clear patterns are emerging with respect to the higher-paying, higher-growth industries. The Bureau of Labor statistics reveal several sectors among the fastest growing in the next seven years: healthcare, information technology, energy and business:
• Health care and Nursing
With the aging of the population, it’s no surprise that ten of the nation’s twenty fastest-growing occupations are related to health care. Health care is expected to generate more jobs than any other industry through 2018. Particular standouts for professionals include Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Assistants at growth rates of 46% and 43% respectively; Physical Therapists at 39% ; Registered Nurses at 26%; Licensed Practical and Vocational nurses at 22.4%; and Physicians and Surgeons at 24.4%.
• Information Technology
With the dramatic growth in cloud storage, mobile apps, data analysis and costly cyber threats, more IT employees will be needed to help companies maintain smooth operations; avoid security breaches and uncover new business opportunities. A skyrocketing 72% growth for Systems Software Developers and 57% growth for Applications Software Developers is projected, in addition to 43% growth for Computer Systems Analysts and Computer Support Specialists.
This popular category encompasses a wide range of career choices: the most popular focus on finance and marketing. Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists top the job growth list at 41%. Personal Financial Advisors are not far behind with 32% projected growth. The need for Financial Analysts are expected to rise by 23%. Accountants and Auditors will grow by 15.7%. The outlook for most wholesale or manufacturing sales reps is 15.6% growth, with first-line administrative and office support supervisors at 14.3% and Marketing Managers at 14% growth.
Regardless of which sector you choose, Nolan Finley, Editorial Page Editor at The Detroit News, emphasized that it’s every student’s responsibility to research potential industries and career choices before they start a degree program. He urged students to choose a field they are passionate about and to find out what skills and education employers are seeking, as well as the realistic earning potential.
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Techonomy Detroit 2013 is one of many conferences hosted by Techonomy each year. The mission of this global initiative is to bring respected business and educational leaders together to analyze technology and economy together in innovative ways that can make the world a better place. They promote candid conversations through city-specific conferences; online editorial content and newsletters; as well as video journalism.
Jacqueline Jones is currently the Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation at Kaplan University. She currently leads the development of new content and products which focus on enhancing career and educational skills.
Look for more discussion around the future of jobs and employers’ changing needs, including the latest on StudentAdvisor.