Archived Story

Switching gears: report highlights jobs in demand

Published 1:04am Saturday, January 16, 2010

Niles Daily Star

President Obama spoke Thursday about the struggles of the nation’s unemployed from the House Democratic Caucus Retreat in Washington D.C., telling lawmakers that 2010 would be anything but boring and hoped it would “mark a year of remarkable progress for the American people.”

For the American people, those words may fall slightly short of hopeful enough, as many continue to struggle without work.

“This is still a tough environment for a huge number of Americans,” Obama said.
“There are 7 million Americans out there who have lost their jobs over the past two years and they still need our help,” he said. “What they can expect from this administration, and I know what they can expect from you, is that we are going to have a sustained and relentless focus over the next several months on accelerating the pace of job creation, because that’s priority No. 1.”

For those who have been struggling through unemployment, their focus may have to shift, if it hasn’t already.

To get any kind of work they can, some say more and more people are choosing to change careers where theirs have led to dead ends and no hope of new work.

A recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gave some insight into occupations with the fasted growth – some of which are primed to grow here in the Niles area.

“Health care occupations are in-demand primarily because our area has an aging demographic,” said Candice Elders, director of community relations with Michigan Works.
Indeed, the health care industry nears the top of the report’s list.

Biomedical engineers, home health aides, personal and home care aides are in the top five jobs with projected growth.

“Advances in medical practices are also helping people to live longer, therefore requiring an increased demand for health care services, and employees to provide those services,” Elders said.

Medical scientists, epidemiologists, physician assistants, skin care specialists, biochemists and biophysicists and medical assistants also made the list of 20 total occupations.

“Many aging citizens also prefer to remain living in their own homes, rather than relocating to a residential nursing home,” Elders added. “Home health aides/personal and home care aides enable people to do that while still receiving the care they need. This is a great job for people who are thinking about a career in healthcare but aren’t ready to invest a lot of time into training.

“Health aides require only a minimum of on-the-job training,” Elders said. “Certified nursing assistants must earn a certification, which can usually be accomplished in two to three weeks.”

The information is valuable for those who have conceded the current jobs and are shifting their focus to furthering their education at community colleges, developing a new career and going into an industry that’s ready to hire.

Number two on the list, just under biomedical engineering, steps outside the healthcare industry. Network systems and data communications analysts are projected to grow by 53 percent – the report includes projections into 2018.

“Network systems, data communications and computer systems analysts are in-demand locally,” Elders said. “Employees earn good wages ranging from an average of $26 to $33 per hour.”

For some, switching gears means stepping out of a comfort zone and back into the classroom. Locally, community colleges such as Lake Michigan College and Southwestern Michigan College have been offering up programs and courses that provide opportunities to new students in getting the education and the skills in the career field they’re looking for.

“As far as trends of laid off workers go, community college enrollment has sky rocketed throughout the country and our local area is no exception,” Elders said. “There are many training options available for folks to earn a marketable credential in one to two years, but we emphasize that potential students research which industries will be hiring before students invest the time and money required.”

The report is based on information compiled through the Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational employment statistics and division of occupational outlook.

Editors note: Has unemployment driven you to turn back to school or change direction in your career? If so, tell the Star your story. Send an e-mail to or give a call to 687-7703.

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