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Anticipating the Hot Jobs of 2018

May 26, 2010 by Joshua Wright

Biomedical engineers, network systems analysts, financial examiners — these are all expected to be hot jobs in eight years according to the Department of Labor’s projections. But as any workforce or education practitioner knows, it’s hard to say which jobs will be performing strongly 18 months from now, let alone in 2018.

Today The Wall Street Journal provided an exhaustive look at occupational projections, and the inherent risks of career planning based on what’s expected to happen in the long term.

Similarly, a high-school grad in 2000 might have picked computer programming—No. 8 at the time on a government list of fast-growing, high-paying jobs—only to graduate to the aftermath of the dot-com collapse.

And finally, no economic model can forecast growth in jobs that are still evolving. While the government’s latest handbook contains a supplement on “green occupations” in emerging industries such as biofuels and wind energy, it has no data on many of the jobs these industries are creating, such as fuel-cell technologists.

“Right now, all the projections we have are about a world that existed” in the past, says David Passmore, director of The Pennsylvania State University’s Institute for Research in Training & Development. “We are sitting on the precipice of the next big transformation” in energy production, “and no one in the occupational-projections area knows how to handle that.”

The article also mentions ACT’s “College Readiness Reports,” done for each state through 2009. In many instances, there’s a telling mismatch between students’ career interests and projected high-growth jobs.

Below is a chart from the 2009 Texas report. Notice the huge discrepancy between interest and anticipated openings in education and computer/information fields.

This points to the need for educators, guidance counselors, and others to have the latest data on in-demand jobs in their regions, and to relay that information so students can make informed career decisions.

Joshua Wright

Reach out at jwright@economicmodeling.com

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