Job change takes on a new meaning

Published: 9/8/2009 12:07 AM

If this recession has taught us anything it's the times they are a changin', especially when it comes to business and the labor market. And, we must coach not only unemployed workers, but also high school and college students to recognize that and look to where the jobs will be in the future when considering a career.

The reason is pretty clear. Some bellwether corporations have gone bankrupt, entire industries are rethinking and reshaping their business plan; several traditional can't miss careers are no longer sure things.

The American work force was sent reeling by corporate cutbacks. The jobless rate now flirts with 10 percent, and the economy has shed nearly 7 million jobs since the start of the recession.

Those numbers reflect laid off workers, but they also affect graduating students unable to start their career because no jobs are available.

There are some positives amid all that bad news.

Most economists believe the recession ended in June, and the economy is turning the corner. Analysts expect the job picture may start to brighten early next year.

When that happens, the labor market won't return to business as usual. In some areas, such as manufacturing, housing, retail and hospitality/restaurants, the struggle for jobs is expected to continue.

And, that's why workers - current and future - need to think change. Local unemployed adults and job counselors, parents and students, teachers and career counselors at high schools and colleges across the suburbs must look seriously at the labor market's future direction and examine where they may fit in.

In a Labor Day story, Daily Herald Business Writer Kim Mikus talked to experts about careers expected to see growth first as the economy moves forward.

"In every recession, there are certain areas that lead the way," said John Challenger, of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement company.

Energy jobs, especially at companies stepping up environmental initiatives, are expected to be an area of growth.

Health care, particularly nurses, physical therapists, primary care physicians and medical coding will likely remain in demand. Chronic teaching shortages still exist in math, science, special education and English as a second language.

Do you have an interest in global business? How about government infrastructure? Jobs that come from the stimulus will include not only construction workers, but also civil engineers and architects.

It's more important now than ever to ask two key questions when investigating a career choice: Where will the jobs be in the future? And what do I have to do to get one?