Posted on 21 October 2009
By Mark Miller
Health care, government and social service jobs offer the most attractive prospects for encore career switchers, according to New York Times business columnist David Leonhardt.
Leonhardt was a guest speaker at this week’s seminar on encore careers sponsored by Civic Ventures. I’ve been auditing the seminar series, which is led by Marc Freedman, CEO of Civic Ventures and Nancy Morrow-Howell, a professor of Social Work at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. The seminar is called “An Introduction to Encore Careers.”
“If you look at overall employment, the country saw a 4 percent decline in employment last year, and we’re down 6 percent from the peak,” Leonhardt said. “But the broad categories of education and health services are actually growing, and employment is at a new high. Some of that is healthcare growth–doctors and nurses. But other growth is coming from what the [U.S. Department of Labor] calls social systems. That area grew 2.2 percent last year. Federal jobs are another growth area. And in my experience interviewing people in these fields, they are massively more satisfied with their jobs when doing something that they have long found interesting, rather than something they think they should be doing or forced to do.”
The U.S. government is facing a major labor shortage in key skilled positions due to its aging workforce. The non-profit Partnership for Public Service has forecast that the federal government will need to fill 273,000 critical-need federal jobs through 2012. That figure is 41 percent higher than it was when the Partnership did its last federal jobs forecast in 2007; the areas of greatest demand include the medical and health field, security and law enforcement and administrative positions, but opportunities exist across a wide range of federal positions.
Likewise, the health care sector continues to grow despite the economy’s overall weakness–the result of our aging population and growing utilization of health care services. For example, in one of the worst months of the recession-February, 2009-hospitals, long-term care facilities and other ambulatory care settings added 27,000 new jobs, while employers overall shed more than 680,000 positions.
The health care industry got an additional shot in the arm from the federal economic stimulus bill passed in 2009, which included $59 billion for medical research, prevention initiatives and a national health information technology infrastructure.