A few weeks ago, I spoke with a new graduate about the opportunities open to him. Shortly afterwards, I heard from a healthcare administrator who is planning her return to work after a pandemic and personal break.
These jobseekers, and others, want to know “what’s next?” The challenge is that forecasting the job market is like forecasting the weather. Conditions in the job market change frequently, just like natural atmospheric conditions. And, job market conditions vary by geographic region, too. So, a job market forecast will not be 100% accurate. Nonetheless, we can look at qualitative trends and draw conclusions that can help jobseekers plan.
The US Labor Department issues a 10 year forecast but does not break-down its expectations year-by-year the way weather forecasters break their forecasts into hourly predictions. Nonetheless, we can look at the 10-year predictions, and then consider trends in the news and the experience of recent jobseekers. It’s similar to reading or watching the weather forecast, and then looking out the window to see how your neighbor dressed for the weather.
While no one can predict exactly how layoffs, new technologies, and shifts in consumer demand will affect employment numbers over the next few years, we have industry projections from trusted sources that provide insights into which areas offer good prospects for advancement opportunities.
In this blog post, I’ll discuss five sectors with significant future hiring potential to help you make informed career decisions.
Overview of Employment Projections by Industry
Federal government and other industry and occupational projections provide a glimpse into the future, allowing us to identify potential areas of growth and anticipate shifts in the job market. These projections can help jobseekers make informed decisions about their career paths.
As we look towards the future, it’s important to consider which industries are projected to have the most job opportunities. By 2024, US employment growth is expected to increase 160.3 million jobs over the previous decade. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics—part of the Department of Labor–has identified the occupations with the highest projected percent change of employment between 2021 and 2031. As the job market continues to evolve, it’s worth considering these industries for future career growth and stability.
Healthcare and Social Assistance
Demand for healthcare and social service workers is being driven by at least two factors—an aging population in the US, and the lingering impact of our worldwide COVID pandemic. The US Census has said that all US baby boomers will be 65 years of age or more by 2030. And we know that some people impacted by COVID continue to report “long COVID” conditions requiring care.
Furthermore, I have spoken with healthcare workers that have left the field, at least temporarily, as a result of stress from working through the pandemic. So, we can expect healthcare and social service workers will be needed to serve an aging population, and those with chronic health conditions.
Additional good news for jobseekers is that there are jobs at many skill levels. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners, as well as medical doctors, earn six-figure median salaries after years of education and training. Nursing aides and personal care aides may only need high school diplomas and certificates although they earn modest wages. And there are many jobs for community college and four-year college grads, too.
It’s also difficult to outsource many healthcare and social service roles. They are “high touch” jobs. You have to be physically present.
Retail trade, according to the Department of Labor, refers to the sale of goods or services to consumers. Every purchase a consumer makes contributes to the success of retail trade workers.
E-commerce and online shopping has made retail trade more accessible and convenient. Innovations, such as self-check-out systems that reduce the need for cashiers, and apps that reduce the need for customer service workers pose challenges for those that want to work in retail stores. But, if you are a delivery person, or have the skills to build an app or operate a retail website, there will be opportunities for you. In other words, the skills you need to work in a retail business are changing.
Scientific, and Technical Services
Demand for professional scientific, and technical services continues to rise, according to the Department of Labor. This sector includes fields such as engineering, architecture, research and development, and computer systems design.
While many science and technical jobs require college and graduates degrees, there are also roles for jobseekers with more modest training. For example, according to the Department of Labor, solar panel installers and wind-turbine technicians are among the jobs expected to have high growth rates. And these jobs require only high school diplomas and technical training. So, you do not need to be a “rocket scientist” to work in a technical job.
New technology, innovative techniques, and government financing through recent infrastructure legislation are increasing the demand for skilled construction workers.
But construction isn’t just about building something new – it’s also about preserving and enhancing existing structures. Both new and restoration construction require a skilled workforce.
A pipefitter recently told me he needed five years of classroom and on-th-job training to be considered fully qualified in his craft. “College might have been easier,” he said. There are programs leading to a variety of OSHA, EPA, and other certifications that allow workers to join the boom with less training, too.
Accommodation and Food Services
Hotels, motels, restaurants, and bars are open again after the pandemic. They offer opportunities for a diverse range of professionals from chefs and servers to hotel managers and housekeepers. It’s another “high-touch” business where many jobs cannot be outsourced easily to offshore providers or automated. Although robots may be able to flip burgers, would we go to a restaurant where robots serve us? And chefs probably need to develop and execute more complex food orders. Overall, our recommendation is to seek out jobs requiring expertise that is hard to automate, and jobs that require a physical presence at the work location for better job security in 2024 and beyond.