Major Employment Trends Through 2026

In the past I have written about a typical day in the life of an economic developer. My point in that column was that there isn’t a typical day in economic development. Just as your business needs to be nimble and flexible to be successful, so do the services and resources we provide to you.

On top of our everyday tasks, economic developers need to occasionally take a step back to identify emerging trends that may significantly impact our communities and businesses in the future. In this global marketplace, we understand that planning for the future is important, and that what is today will not remain the same. There are opportunities and threats arising all around us which need to be identified in order for our communities and businesses to respond to changes.

The Economic Development Research Partners (EDRP), the think tank of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), recently authored a research paper titled “Future Ready – Preparing for Tomorrow’s Economy.” The report takes a look at anticipated changes in the following areas: workforce, technology, infrastructure, promotion/connecting and how the economic development profession itself may change.

In today’s column I will discuss the section on workforce. It’s a hot topic and most businesses that we meet with are struggling to find talent. So what can we anticipate in the future?

From 2016-2026, we are expecting the following sectors to increase in employment by over one million:

  • Food preparation and serving
  • Healthcare practitioners and technicians
  • Personal care and service
  • Healthcare support

Expected to drop by 4% is manufacturing. Interestingly enough, despite the projected job losses, manufacturing is projected to have nearly 1,000,000 job openings every year over the next decade due in large part to retirements. Therefore, efforts by many in our region to increase the number of young people entering this field are critical to meet future demand.

Looking a little deeper at the four sectors expecting large employment increases, here is a further breakdown of job type. In food preparation, included is food and beverage servers, cooks and food preparers, and supervisors. For healthcare and personal care the jobs expected are:

  • Registered Nurses
  • Physical Therapists
  • Personal Care Aides
  • Personal Appearance Workers
  • Home Health Aides
  • Nursing Assistants
  • Medical Assistants

You can see how these high demand jobs are also connected to the needs of an aging population.

grayscale photography of smiling woman

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The report also projects sectors that will experience skill shortages and high job openings:

  • 121,000 doctors needed by 2030
  • 174,000 truck drivers needed by 2026
  • 2 million manufacturing jobs unfilled by 2025
  • 446,300 home health care aides needed by 2025

As you can imagine there are many factors that play a role in attempting to predict employment trends. Technology, automation, cobots, robots and the big economy all impact the future. How we prepare as a region to respond to these changes will determine how successful we will be long term.

Authored by: Amy Clickner, CEcD, CFRM, the CEO of Lake Superior Community Partnership. Amy was the President of MEDA in 2017 and is the Annual Meeting Committee Chair in 2018.

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Grow Your Talent Pool

Some of us have been around long enough to remember what a tight labor market looks like. It’s certainly better than the alternative. A carefully crafted talent strategy can be the difference between winning projects and being left on the sidelines.

Building Construction 3The first step in a talent strategy is to determine who to collaborate with on implementation. You will need expertise and resources and no economic development agency has enough of either. Colleges, universities and workforce development agencies are obvious partners, but here are a few others you might consider:

  • Public sector – communities can’t grow without jobs and investment
  • Private sector – they have as much to gain as you and they might be willing to provide funding
  • Recruitment agencies – they need talent, too
  • Military branches of government – they offer a ready supply of returning veterans
  • Faith-based organizations – they have great networks
  • Public and intermediate schools – school counselors can guide and influence graduating seniors

Business Professionals2The easiest win in the talent attraction game is commuters. They drive out of your county to pursue higher pay within the region or jobs that aren’t readily available in your area. In a tight labor market, wages typically go up. Companies are desperate for talent and will provide better pay and benefits. The key to this strategy is awareness. Try posting advertisements on well-placed billboards or in newspapers outside the county to announce local job opportunities. Electronic billboards can be an affordable way to post your next job fair or list a company’s hard-to-fill engineering job.

Recruiting talent outside of your area is difficult and can be expensive. First, partner with real estate brokers to develop listings and welcome packets. You’ll need housing if you are going to recruit workforce. Second, identify markets similar to yours where available workers are located. Place advertisements in their local newspapers that point people to a jobs board or website where job postings are available. Companies might help to pay for these ads, so remember to ask.

Emerging Leaders for WebsiteOn average, about 30% of high school graduates are not going to college. This is your workforce of tomorrow. This is a great partnership opportunity for educators, the private sector and economic developers. Professional days, facility tours, company profiles on MI Bright Future and summer camps can help to educate young people regarding employment opportunities. They won’t have a lot of work experience, so promote internships and job shadowing.

These are just a few of the strategies you can employ to recruit talent to your community. As you talk to your partners, you will discover other strategies and programs. Remember that if you do nothing, your talent might be someone else’s target. So be aggressive and you can win the talent war.

Authored by: Dan Casey, Chief Executive Officer, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County. Dan is a Member at Large on MEDA’s Board of Directors.