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Which Industry has the Most Job Openings and Why?

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Are you wondering which industry has the most job openings? Whether you’re just starting college, just finishing up your degree, or have recently graduated, knowing which industry has the most job openings is very important to you and your future. We spoke to several experts about this topic and wanted to share what they had to say with you. Hopefully you learn as much as we did from each of them.

We live in a high tech society. More and more work functions are becoming automated using processes that engineers and skilled IT professionals will develop.

In particular and growing demand are Master's degrees in computer engineering, geological engineering, materials science engineering, mechanical engineering and mining engineering. PhDs in materials science engineering and mechanical engineering are also in great demand.

Companies are especially looking for engineers with strong "soft" skills, which I define as people skills.

Some of the industries that are gaining momentum are automotive, raw materials (copper, lead, others), power/energy, oil (share, sand), biomass/agriculture and health care. Some experts forecast that there will be a shortage of 90,000 doctors by 2035.

Jim Turnquist
Director of Career Services at Michigan Technological University

First, many jobs remain open due to a lack of skilled/experienced applicants. On the flip side, a lot of employers still don't get it…high unemployment doesn't mean there are available qualified workers and/or that it provides a reason to low-ball wages and benefits.

Nearly every industry reports an increase in filling positions. Technology, health care, manufacturing top the list but they by no means sit alone. Difficulty in filling positions is not necessarily a quantity game either. Many openings are in specialized jobs, a small percentage of the entire workforce. But that critical job can bring strategic objectives to a screeching stop. For instance, one of my clients, a global manufacturer, is having trouble filling service tech jobs. They have slowed production because they don't have enough workers to install and service their product.

Ira S Wolfe
President, Success Performance Solutions

The energy industry is booming! In addition to a mature workforce facing retirement, changes in policies and regulations, the discovery of new resources and the likely increase of export capabilities has sparked job growth throughout the industry. From traditional energy jobs to opportunities in law, technology and training-all needed to support the industry's evolution.

Clara Lippert Glenn, President/CEO, The Oxford Princeton Programme, a leading provider of training solutions to the energy professionals worldwide

  • It will be no surprise to you, I'm sure, to read that the healthcare industry - now and in the foreseeable future - will have an abundance of job opportunities as the massive Baby Boom Generation, currently aged 49 to 67, ages. It is the "why" behind it that might be lesser known.

  • Many professions within the healthcare industry - doctors, nurses, home-care workers, and other professions - are facing an acute shortage because GenerationX, currently aged 32 to 48, did not embrace healthcare as a career. X'ers, as a generation, have demonstrated that they don't want careers with irregular work hours and evening and weekend work. Thus, the critical shortage - especially with nurses - in this country.

  • Also, Boomers, the hard-working Golden Generation In The American Workplace, have amassed a disproportionate percentage of America's wealth and are willing to spend significant amounts of it on their "wellness". So there is, and will be, money in the healthcare sector.

  • Recognizing this, pharmaceutical companies and government research-and-development agencies are investing untold amounts in anti-aging research because the Boomers will pay for the pill or cocktail or treatment that will prolong their lives.

  • So we're in a golden era of anti-aging science and medicine, which will only prolong Americans' lives, and especially the massive Boomer Generation. But there will still be significant infirmity as the older population swells. Hence, the demand for employees in healthcare.

This is just one example of how generational dynamics influence the job market.

Other job opportunities with "legs" and that will be available for a significant period of time? Jobs that require in-person, human-to-human interaction in America and thus cannot be off-shored: certain jobs in selling, customer service, hospitality, travel, stores (brick-and-mortar) retailing, and others. Why this category will be strong:
  • once again, GenX tended to bypass these kinds of careers (irregular hours, evening and weekend);

  • and, the younger Millennials (current age 18 to 31) grew up dominated by technology and often lack the experience and skill to go eye-to-eye with a customer/client/patient/stranger, so there's a nationwide need for workers with the necessary interpersonal skills.

Chuck Underwood is one of the handful of people who pioneered and popularized the field of generational study and, with it, generational business strategies. He trains American business, government, education, religion, and other institutions on a long list of those strategies, including Generational Workforce Strategy. He works across all industry-types. His clients include Hewlett-Packard, Macy's, Time Warner Cable, Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, U. S. Military, American Council On Education, and 400+ more. He is the Founder/President of generational consulting firm The Generational Imperative, Inc. He is the author of the book that remains the most comprehensive presentation of generational workforce and marketplace business strategies. He is also the host of the PBS national-television mini-series AMERICA'S GENERATIONS WITH CHUCK UNDERWOOD.

I run a boutique recruiting firm and would be happy to answer your question from an empirical perspective. In short, different industries are broadly impacted by different exogenous variables (market movements, economic trends, events, legislation, etc.). In the hedge fund space, for example, there are almost always plenty of firms hiring because their success as a group is largely uncorrelated with many macro trends. Pharma companies, similarly, are often growing or contracting based on their proprietary pipelines. It's also useful to think less in terms of industries and more in terms of function (e.g., almost every industry is hiring developers and big data analysts right now).

Cliff Dank
President, Managing Partner
Elm Talent Group

Sales. Companies are now stabilized out of the recession and we are seeing more focus back into Sales than any other vertical. Companies are also being more creative with their comp plans to entice better sales reps, but also ways to protect the company from hiring the duds. Businesses are stretching to make every employee related expense variablized as possible. No production from sales team, no expenses either. This is a band-aid approach and in my opinion really hurt the way business is done.

Ryan Naylor, founder of and popular job fairs in Phoenix, AZ

Robert L "Bob" Rystrom, Managing Director of the US Recruiters Network, an independent network of over 220 of recruiters nationwide and in Canada, states:

There is an extreme shortage of talent to be found in the lower and mid-level management areas. From my conversations with various members, this market is extremely tight with a talent pool that is dwindling.

How has this happened?

The accelerating rate of change in end markets has dramatically altered the employment landscape. The impact of information technology has disrupted entire industries. Borders Books and Music and Blockbuster have gone out of business. Barnes and Noble is on life support. Newspapers, magazines and other forms of print media have been radically downsized, losing money and many are at risk of going out of business. The traditional way companies market their products and services has been massively impacted by social media. Manufacturing is returning to America while becoming highly automated. America is going through an energy revolution. Logistics has been totally revamped and health care is rapidly deploying information technology mandated by new laws and regulations.

Companies are looking for formal education and experience in many areas that represent dramatic shifts from the way business was done even in the recent past. In addition to the formal training dimension of the skills issues, there is the elephant in the room that appears in job postings. It's the ubiquitous - "3-5 years' experience."

The sad fact is that when the financial meltdown hit in late 2007 companies massively down sized. Not only were new hires not taking place, employees with experience were terminated. In contrast to past downturns, when hiring typically rebounded within 12 - 18 months, during this cycle companies aggressively restricted hiring until very recently. This cycle has been more like 60 months in duration.

Beginning in the fourth quarter of calendar 2012 job requisitions began to grow and this trend has further accelerated in the last 2-3 months. Evidence of the tightening market is in the fees being paid to recruiting agencies retained by corporations to recruit talent. During the financial meltdown job placement fees paid to agencies were reduced by as much as 40%. In recent months, these fees have jumped to pre-recession levels and beyond. In some cases, fees offered have reached a 50% increase in just the last 6 months.

This shortage of talent is especially critical in the mid-management and front line supervision positions. The experience normally gained is just not there. The 60 month freeze has created a hole in the experience pipeline. The issue is especially critical at the first tiers of management, thus the opening conclusions above.

Dr. Michael E. Echols

Technology is changing at such a rapid pace that it is extremely challenging for high-tech firms to find the right technical skill sets. It is increasingly more challenging for high-tech startups to find those same skill sets within people who fit the startup culture.

With the ongoing evolution and revolution of technology, high-tech startups specifically are clamoring for talent to deliver their products to market via the most impressive and accessible means in order to stand out from the crowd and succeed. Therefore, roles such as Web Developers, UI/UX Design/Development and Mobile Developers are in extreme demand. Everyone has a need to be visible online, on smart phones, tablets and devices of the future. The interfaces and designs behind those platforms are integral to delivery, attention and retention of customers.

In order to capture that audience, the wrangling of Big Data becomes imperative. As a result, Data Scientists are extremely hot in the startup world, in order to compete with more established companies.

Startups are driving the competitive job market in high-tech industries. They are battling with each other and against large corporations for the top talent they need to succeed. The lure of a fresh environment, direct impact, and being an innovator for the next great idea is enticing to those more financially set and secure in a stifling corporate world. That same corporate world is fighting to keep this talent in place and working for them, rather than fueling the future of the little guy. Startups are selective in their hiring - knowing that a misstep can doom their efforts. They seek out quality education and expertise combined with a daredevil attitude. The scarcity of this combination drives bidding wars and encourages fresh faces to join the game. Entering the employment scene with skills in these areas of focus with a strong schooling pedigree, or accomplished work experience with proven results, means you will be in high demand.

Amish Shah
Millenium Search LLC

The IT field is one of the most dynamic fields to work in and that offers its own challenges as well as opportunities. Because of the march of technology onward the field is constantly changing in all aspects, from project management, to social media and marketing IT is a constantly shifting field. The oft cited fact is that many of the hottest jobs in IT today didn't exist at all 6 years ago, including being an app developer or a social media marketing professional. The challenge here is that people within the field must constantly stay light on their feet, remake themselves, and continually educate themselves to stay on track. The benefit lies in the fact that there is always further opportunity. IT is simply something no business can do without anymore and someone is going to be making money providing IT for every company that is out there. This is a huge field and it grows and shifts with the economy. This is a field that values experience, certifications, and innovation more than anything else and anyone who can remain on top of their own professional development and can keep an ear to the ground will stand to do well.

Hiring practices will always vary by market, but the hottest occupations lately have been ones dealing with the mobile market, virtualization and cloud, and security. With everyone's technology becoming constantly more connected and portable this has raised some serious concerns about data security and staying connected no matter what. This has opened up big opportunities for people who have moved their career in that direction.

Robert Howden
IT Professor at Computer Systems Institute
Elgin, IL
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