Seven Industries to Watch in 2011

top industriesEconomists recently said the great recession officially ended in the summer of 2009, but a year and a half later, the job market is still slow to recover. While it may still take a while for employment to reach pre-recession levels, it looks like 2011 will be an improvement over recent years past.

Take, for example, these recent statistics from CareerBuilder's 2011 Job Forecast:

  • Twenty-four percent of employers plan to hire full-time employees in 2011, up from 20 percent in 2010 and 14 percent in 2009.
  • More than half of employers surveyed said they were in a better financial position this year than they were at the beginning of 2010.
  • Only 7 percent of employers plan to decrease headcount this year, down from 9 percent in 2010 and 16 percent in 2009.
  • Thirteen percent of employers plan to hire part-time employees in 2011, up from 11 percent last year and 9 percent in 2009.

While these positive signs mean that employment levels are heading in the right direction, competition for jobs will still be tough this year, relative to years like 2006 and 2007. Increase your chances of getting a job by applying for work in one of these seven industries, all of which are in need of skilled workers.

sales jobs1. Sales and customer service

According to the CareerBuilder forecast, 27 percent of hiring managers surveyed said they plan to hire workers for sales positions in 2011, while 25 percent said they'd be hiring more customer service representatives.

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

skilled labor industries2. Skilled trade

According to a talent shortage survey conducted by staffing firm Manpower Inc., skilled trade jobs (heating and air conditioning, electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, etc.) were the hardest jobs to fill in 2010.

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.

engineering industry3. Engineering

Twenty-one percent of employers said they plan to add engineers to their payroll in 2011, according to the CareerBuilder forecast. Additionally, in 2008 and 2009, the Manpower survey named engineering jobs the hardest to fill.

Why there's a need: Like health care, the engineering industry is seeing many of its workers reach retirement age. At the same time, according to data from the American Society for Engineering Education, the number of students enrolled in bachelor's-level engineering programs declined by 1.3 percent from 2000 through 2009. Adding to the need for engineers is 2009's economic stimulus package, which prompted an upswing in transportation and infrastructure projects that demand the expertise of skilled engineers.

transportation jobs4. Transportation

In 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that truck drivers held more than 3.2 million jobs, making the profession one of the largest in the country. Additionally, Freight Transportation Research Associates anticipates that transportation, warehousing and utilities job openings grew by 31.6 percent last year. In-demand jobs will include transportation analysts, transportation managers, and transportation and warehouse coordinators.

Why there's a need: In December 2010, economic activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector grew for the 17th month straight, according to the Institute for Supply Chain Management. 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.

education industry5. Education

While it's true that many school districts are facing budget cuts and layoffs, teachers are in short supply in many areas of education. Each year, the U.S. Department of Education puts out a list of nationwide teacher shortages, and 2011 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 phenomenon, 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.

health care industry6. Health care

Compared to the hiring freezes and mass-layoffs experienced in other industries, health care has seemed relatively recession-proof over the last few years, and the always-in-demand nature of the sector will persist. According to a December 2010 survey by AMN Health Care Services, 62 percent of health-care executives said that the passing of health care reform will increase their need for physicians in the coming years, and 56 percent said it will cause them to need more nurses.

Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that from 2008 to 2018, 600,000 jobs will be created in nursing alone. Job openings also abound for workers without advanced schooling; the BLS reports that job prospects for pharmacy technicians, nurses' aides, X-ray technicians and home health aides will be promising in coming years.

Why there's a need: In 2011, baby boomers officially begin 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 recent 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.

automotive industry7. Automotive

Though Michigan's unemployment rate is a testament to how hard the recession hit the auto industry, there could soon be a shortage of workers in the recovering field. According to a study called "Beyond the Big Leave: The Future of Automotive Human Resources" conducted by the Center for Automotive Research, all of the five automakers that participated in the study -- GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and Honda -- were concerned about attracting skilled workers in the future.

Why there's a need: Like other industries, there will be an "aging out" in the auto industry, as the baby boomer generation begins to retire. Plus, according to the CAR study, automakers feel that there are problems attracting people to the industry "because the common perception is that the work is dirty and not very challenging or well-paid."

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