Across the country, college classes are starting. In each of these classrooms, students are struggling with calculus, trudging through Candide, and wondering just what the hell they're going to do with their degrees upon graduation. The last of these is characteristic of every college student, especially those of us, with the
foresight fortitude recklessness zeal to major in liberal arts fields (in my case, Philosophy).
The anxiety is a bit higher this year, given a high rate of unemployment, the likelihood of a "jobless recovery" and the fact that it could take years for destroyed value to be recovered.
According to a report revealed to BloggingStocks by executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, approximately 2.9 million students are starting their post-secondary educations this year, and with rare exceptions, they are nervous about the future. "This recession may have many freshmen second-guessing career plans. Certainly those who were contemplating a future in financial services or home building may be looking for new options," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
A survey of 150 human resources executives yields a long list of potential careers to avoid, including law, marketing and advertising, and human resources. Students considering computer science/information technology have the most to hope for, according to the survey participants, as 16% called it the top career category, with engineering close behind at 15%. Medicine/health care came in at 14.3%. Only 2% chose human resources and 1.4% the legal profession.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts computer and information science on a growth trajectory of 22% from 2006 to 2016, with network systems and data communications analysis expected to grow by 53% for the same period. And, the health care industry is expected to add 3 million jobs. Though engineering will grow at a rate of 11%, some will double that rate, including biomedical, environmental, and industrial engineers -- all of which will exceed 20% growth through 2016.
"We are already seeing growth in some of these areas, despite the recession," Challenger says. "The trend toward 'green' technologies is creating jobs in engineering and computer science. Certain areas in the health care sector are having trouble filling positions due to a lack of skilled candidates. More jobs may be created by health care reform, if Congress is able to get a bill passed. Then there are all the opportunities we cannot possibly foresee."
Government and public service received less than 5% of the HR professionals' votes for this survey (they were instructed to vote for only one discipline each). Programs are being cut (along with positions) as local and federal governments seek to balance budgets, which can make this field a bit less attractive. Yet, coming retirements due to an aging workforce could lead to more open jobs in the near future. Challenger notes that "despite the increasing need for replacement workers, the government has done little to streamline the hiring process or improve its image when it comes to being a great place to work."
But, there's no telling what the future will bring. "It is impossible to predict what the job market will look like in four years. Young people entering college this fall could graduate into a job market that is still recovering from recession. With so much uncertainty, it is best to seek skills that are flexible and highly transferable between various industries. The areas recommended by human resource executives, while appearing to be relatively specialized on the surface, actually provide future graduates with a great amount of flexibility to pursue careers in a wide range of fields that are emerging now or could emerge over the next two decades."