Where The Jobs Will Be in 2020

This article will appear in the January 2013 student newspaper the Sanborn Voice:

At the end of this month, your guidance counselor will begin the course selection process with you. Thinking back to my own high school days at Timberlane in the mid-1990’s, I know this can be a somewhat daunting task. The process usually starts with an adult asking you an innocent question like “what classes do you want to take next year?” but it quickly morphs into a broader discussion on future college and career planning. I always thought that if I just had a crystal ball I could look ten years into the future and see what jobs would be most popular. The problem is, we don’t always know what the future will hold or what our needs will be in two years, much less five or ten years. Luckily, there are lots of organizations and statisticians that make a living trying to analyze data and trends to predict what the future might look like. Their work today can help you as you begin to make some important decisions about your future, which all starts with the courses you want to take next year.

In February of 2012, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on which career fields and industries will experience the highest job growth over the next decade. It is no surprise that the biggest winners over the next ten years will be industries and occupations that are related to health care, personal care and social assistance, and construction. The Bureau is projecting total employment to grow by 14.3 percent over the next ten years which will add 20.5 million new jobs in our country. As I read through the report, two “big ideas” surfaced that I want to draw your attention to. These are taken directly from the Bureau’s website  and drive home the point that all of you need to consider some type of college or post-secondary training or apprenticeship in your life after Sanborn:

1.      In occupations in which a master’s degree is typically needed for entry, employment is expected to grow by 21.7 percent, faster than the growth rate for any other education category.

2.      In occupations in which apprenticeship is the typical on-the-job training, employment is expected to grow by 22.5 percent, faster than for any other on-the-job training category.

Now that you know that you will need to do some type of advanced training or apprenticeship beyond Sanborn, your next step is to think about what kind of a career you want to pursue. Below is my list of career fields you should consider because they are expected to have the highest projected job growth in the global economy. I based my research from various media outlets including Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and monster.com. They are listed in no particular order:

Translators and Interpreters: Do you enjoy experiencing other cultures and learning new languages? Tomorrow’s global economy needs people who can translate from one language to another. In addition to today’s more common languages of French, Spanish, Italian, and German, you might want to consider learning a language such as Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Bengali, Russian, Arabic, or Farsi.

Business Management: Do you want to work for or own your own business one day? By 2023, most of the world’s most successful and profitable entrepreneurs and business owners will be under the age of 30. The most important in-demand business skills for tomorrow will be people who can perform & manage sales and people who can analyze finances, finances, information technology, market research, and risk management.

Health and Medical: As the baby-boomer generation heads into retirement, some (but not all) medical fields will be in high demand in the next decade. Professionals such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and veterinarians will still be necessary, but equally as important will be the various assistants who work side-by-side with these professionals. With the rising cost of health care, medical assistants will play an increasing role in patient care and rehabilitation in the next decade.

Human Service: Do you like working with people? Do you have an interest in fields such as criminal justice, psychology, education, or hospitality? Human service careers have and always will be a high priority in our world, however the types of human service needs will evolve over the next decade. The ones with the highest demand in the future will be college professors, lawyers, military specialists and law enforcement, childcare workers, food production and service staff, and event planning specialists.

Manufacturing Technology: Over the next ten years, perhaps one of the most explosive new career fields, especially in southern New Hampshire, will be in jobs that combine computer aided design (CAD) software with manufacturing tools and equipment. The days of minimum-wage factory jobs are on the decline. Tomorrow’s manufacturer needs workers who have advanced skills working with semi-conductors, aerospace, plastics production, and medical equipment.

Construction / Skilled Labor: Do you think you might enjoy a career that lets you build things with stone, wood, steel, or other materials? As our economy begins to turn around, the need is increasing for skilled laborers in areas such as solar power installation, masons, pipefitters, welders, iron workers, and construction workers. Also a growing area of need will be folks who can handle the “business” operations of construction such as construction estimators. Gone are the days where people in these careers could get by with just a high school diploma. Tomorrow’s construction worker should have some advanced training and knowledge about not only their craft but how it integrates with other systems and technologies.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): Technology is planning an increased role in our world, and it will continue to grow and evolve as a high-demand career field in the future. The biggest computer needs for tomorrow will be people who can design and maintain computer networks, and those with experience in network security or software development. In terms of science, there will be a need for more geoscientists, medical scientists, and biomedical engineers – specifically people with experience in genetics and robotics.

Now that you have this great information on the top careers over the next decade, we still have to go back to the question that this entire article is based on: what classes do you want to take next year? Here is a simple response you can give: I am going to take a combination of required classes, classes that will challenge me, classes that interest me, and classes that are based on topics that I want to learn more about because they might impact what type of a career I decide to pursue after Sanborn. High school is the time to explore, learn, and grow in different areas. Take advantage of the multitude of program offerings that are available to you!


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