Here at EMSI, we’ve identified the skills gap largely as a regional issue—you only need oil drillers where there is oil, and finance jobs are booming in the Southeast but not the Northwest. Using EMSI data to determine which skills are in demand in Massachusetts, the Boston Globe recently published an article that provides a sampling of growing middle-skill jobs in the region and offers insights about how to identify an associate’s degree program that will provide a high return on investment.
In Massachusetts, the need for technical skills is most evident in the health care industry.
For example, EMSI anticipates there will be more than 6,800 new jobs for registered nurses created in Boston before 2018, with almost 2,000 more jobs being added throughout the rest of the state.
And nursing isn’t the only skill that will be in demand in the health care industry. Health care is one of the fields where middle-skill jobs are most common, said Brian Points, an economist at EMSI. EMSI puts medical secretary, EMT, and medical lab technician among the professions with the highest projected growth by 2018.
Interestingly enough, four of the seven Top Paying Jobs You Can Get With an Associates Degree recently identified by the Boston Globe are also in the health care industry. Of course, there are middle-skill positions outside of health care, such as insurance clerks or social service assistants, that are also growing.
Training Programs and Colleges
“A general bachelor’s degree is not as valuable as it used to be,” said Points. “It’s not as valuable as someone who knows how to work directly with equipment.”
Since Massachusetts is well known for its public school system, the article highlights associate’s degree programs in the state’s community colleges as an avenue for which jobseekers could learn in-demand skills. However, the article urges readers to consider reputation before investing in a program, especially if the program is for-profit or at a private institution, and it emphasizes that connecting students to employment opportunities is a critical part of a college’s role.
The article identified Career Coach, EMSI’s online tool that maps a college’s programs to career opportunities, as an example of how schools can offer students clear pathways to careers:
A few schools in Massachusetts—Mount Wachusett Community College and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences—use an EMSI product called Career Coach that shows students a detailed and up-to-date picture of the employment opportunities graduates of a certain program will find.
Points says more and more schools will start tracking and sharing their students’ employment opportunities as education becomes focused on training students for specific jobs. He even sees traditional four-year universities waking up to the reality. “They’re having to answer questions they haven’t had to answer,” Points said.
For more on Career Coach, see here or contact Josh Wright. Follow EMSI on Twitter (@DesktopEcon) or check us out on LinkedIn and Facebook.