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IN BRIEF: 7 Industries in Need of Workers Now

Monday, August 23, 2010

Given the layoffs and unemployment woes that consistently make headlines, it may seem hard to believe that some industries are actually experiencing worker shortages. Yet despite a national unemployment rate that hovers near double digits, there are industries that are in need of well-trained, qualified employees.

According to CareerBuilder's 2010 Mid-Year Job Forecast:

One-in-five employers (22 percent) reported that, despite an abundant labor pool, they still have positions for which they can't find qualified candidates.

Forty-eight percent of HR managers reported that there was an area of their organization in which they lacked qualified workers.

Health-care employers were the most likely to report a skills deficit with 63 percent of HR professionals in large health-care organizations stating they have a shortage of qualified workers.

Here are seven industries currently in need of workers, the reasons behind each, and why you might consider directing your career path toward one of these employee-hungry sectors.

1. Skilled trade

According to a talent shortage survey conducted by staffing firm Manpower Inc., skilled trade jobs (HVAC, electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, etc.) are 2010's hardest jobs to fill.

Why there's a need: Many skilled trade positions fall into the "middle-skills" job category, or jobs that do not require a four-year degree, yet do require some education or training beyond high school. The shortage of qualified workers in this area has been largely attributed to a need for additional programs designed to attract high school students to the community colleges and trade school programs that train these workers.

Why you should consider it: You can get paid while you learn. Most skilled-trade professions require training, much of which can be done during a paid apprenticeship. Skilled trades can also be a good career option for the business minded, since many skilled-trade workers are self-employed and own their own businesses.

2. Transportation

According to a 2010 job outlook study done by online ad research firm Borrell Associates, the transportation, warehousing and utilities industry is expected to see 31.6 percent more job openings this year than it did in 2009. In-demand jobs will include transportation analysts, transportation managers, and transportation and warehouse coordinators.

Why there's a need: In June 2010, the U.S. manufacturing sector marked its 11th straight month of economic growth, according to the Institute for Supply Chain Management, and the sixth straight month of employment growth. An increase in manufacturing creates a domino effect that extends to both the warehouses that store manufactured products and the transportation used to distribute them.

Why you might consider it: The barrier to entry is low. A clean driving record, a Commercial Driver's License and an age restriction are the most typical job requirements.

3. Automotive

Though Michigan's unemployment rate is testament to how hard the recession hit the auto industry, there could actually soon be a shortage of workers in the recovering field. The Center for Automotive Research recently reported that new jobs created in the industry may top 15,000 by the end of 2010, and could be as high as 100,000 per year from 2011 through 2013.

Why there's a need: Nearly 228,000 workers were laid off when the industry hit its low point. Now that car companies are starting to see a rebound -- both Ford and General Motors surpassed expected sales in May -- the auto industry is looking to bring back its workforce.

Why you should consider it: The salaries of motor vehicle manufacturing workers are high compared to other manufacturing industries.

4. Education

While it's true that many school districts are facing budget cuts and layoffs, there are still many areas of education where teachers are in short supply. Each year, the U.S. Department of Education puts out a list of nationwide teacher shortages, and 2010 is no different in terms of the overwhelming need for qualified educators. Areas of education most in need include special education, mathematics, bilingual teaching and foreign language.

Why there's a need: Teacher shortages are not a new phenomena, and poor teacher retention rates and low salaries are often blamed. Troubled school districts and areas of education that attract fewer teachers have high turnover rates, leaving many schools in a constant search for new educators. Meanwhile, fewer college students are choosing teaching as a career path, due to an unappealing combination of advanced training requirements, complicated licensing procedures and low starting salaries.

Why you should consider it: Many states are now offering alternate certification programs to entice potential career-changers into the classroom. These programs allow non-education bachelor's degree holders to work in the classroom while taking the courses necessary to complete their teaching certificates.

5. Health care

Though there have been reports of leveling off in health care job growth, the industry continues to have a surplus of job openings. According to a December 2009 survey by AMN Health Care Services, 95 percent of hospital CEO's agreed that there was a shortage of physicians in the U.S.; and from 2008-2018, the BLS reports that 600,000 new jobs will be created in nursing alone. Job openings also abound for workers without advanced schooling; 2010's most wanted health care workers include home health aides, x-ray technicians and nursing home workers.

Why there's a need: In 2011, the baby boomer generation officially begins to turn 65, creating twofold implications for the health care industry. Not only will the aging U.S. population require more medical care than ever, but many of the baby boomers currently employed in health care will begin to retire, both factors that will contribute to an increasing gap between health care supply and demand. Additionally, with the passing of the Health Care Reform Bill, even more Americans will be eligible for health care in coming years, meaning that the need for providers will only continue to increase.

Why you should consider it: Ten of today's 20 fastest-growing occupations are in health care.

6. Engineering

In 2008 and 2009, the Manpower Worker Shortage Survey named engineering jobs the hardest to fill. While the 2010 title has gone to Skilled Trade positions, the engineering sector is still in need of well-qualified workers.

Why there's a need: Like health care, the engineering industry is seeing many of its workers reach retirement age. Additionally, fewer college students are graduating with engineering degrees. Adding to the need for engineers is last year's economic stimulus package, which prompted an upswing in transportation and infrastructure projects that demand the expertise of skilled engineers.

Why you should consider it: Depending on the concentration, average salaries for engineers can average well into the six-figures. While an engineering degree is required for most positions, those with a bachelor's degree in math or science fields may also be considered for open positions.

7. Sales and customer service

According to CareerBuilder's Mid-Year Job Forecast, 25 percent of hiring managers surveyed said they plan to hire workers for customer service positions in the second half of 2010, while 22 percent said they'd be hiring more salespeople.

Why there's a need: Companies are currently focused on building new client relationships and bringing in revenue, meaning that there is an increasing need for the people responsible for these functions -- customer service and sales representatives.

Why you should consider it: Many sales and customer service jobs don't require a college degree, just a strong work ethic and ability to build great relationships. Because a lot of sales jobs are commission-based, earning potential is high.

Brent Rasmussen is President of CareerBuilder North America and heads the company's day-to-day operations in the United States and Canada. Rasmussen is an employment expert who regularly interviews with national TV and radio and speaks at various industry forums discussing hiring trends and workplace developments. He has appeared on Nightly Business Report, FOX Business Countdown to the Closing Bell, CNN American Morning, BusinessWeek Weekend and National Public Radio among others.


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