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Trends with Career Potential

Q: The job market continues to be tight in my profession and location, yet some people are finding new positions. This recession can’t last forever. What are trends you see, which have growing employment potential both now and in the future?

A: I often talk with my clients about trends when we’re brainstorming career changes and opportunities in growing industries and professions. Here’s a list of five major trends I’ve been following:

1. Sustainability: Going Green

Global warming and disruptions of natural processes are leading to serious concern about fouling our environment beyond recovery. Alternative and more efficient sources of energy, recycling, repurposing, urban/local gardening, organic foods, natural pesticides and other “good for you and the earth” products are all growing fields, many of which are beginning to benefit from the federal stimulus.

If you are passionate about this trend, investigate its evolving careers. Right now there’s more talk than action, which is a great moment to get in on the ground floor of a bound-to-burgeon industry.

2. The World is Flat: Going Global

While this trend has been around for a while, it continues to expand with international organizations moving and creating positions around the world. The European Union is a major indicator of the march to globalize. As an alliance, it has a great deal more to offer its members and trade partners than its individual countries.

The uneasy symbiosis between China and the US is another intriguing reality of our global economy. With the two countries bound at the hip by their trade balance, currency and debt relationship, they have become the yin and yang of the industrialized world. For the present and foreseeable future, China is the country to watch.

During the Great Recession, emerging economies have performed better than established ones. India, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina and Chile are excellent examples of countries on the move, which will become increasingly important trade partners in coming years.

This trend tells us that bi-or multi-lingual skills, cultural astuteness, tech savvy, creativity, risk-taking and willingness to travel, relocate or work in a virtual environment will lead to new opportunities as more countries participate in global trade. In most developed nations, services will continue to outpace manufacturing.

3. Demographic Shifts

Recently on NPR’s Diane Rehm show, there was a fascinating discussion about a book called Shock of Gray, which explains why the world is getting older and what this global population trend means for current and future generations.

In the US, two shifts are particularly prominent. Baby Boomers are turning gray, reaching retirement age and requiring more health care, leisure options, smaller and retrofitted housing and financial planning. Hispanics will soon be the biggest minority and eventually the largest population block in a number of states. They and other immigrants to countries in need of young and low-cost workers will spur general economic growth and the sale of products and services like those in their homeland.

4. Healthcare Just Keeps Expanding

Because of aging populations, technological advances, drug discoveries, epidemics of obesity, autism and diabetes etc., plus more emphasis on health in emerging nations, this industry continues to expand at a pace far faster than the economy as a whole. Have you noticed how many large healthcare facilities have permanent construction cranes on site?

People who research, design, make and deliver healthcare products, services and facilities will continue to be hired in greater numbers. So will those who support operations in staff functions such as HR, finance, accounting, marketing, sales and IT.

Expertise in database management and process integration will be in tremendous demand. The industry, spurred by federal stimulus funds, is ramping up electronic record keeping as a way to cut costs and time on low-level, repetitive tasks, reduce mistakes and increase customer service.

5. From Big to Small

For years, people in the know have been saying that small business is the true engine of prosperity. In fact, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners’

Foundation, women entrepreneurs hire more employees than the Fortune 500 worldwide.

While recessions mean wholesale layoffs at larger companies, a down economy is the catalyst for lots of new business ventures. Corporate veterans who want to work for themselves, retirees who are ready for a new challenge and Gen X and Y who expect to fast track their careers often choose to buy a franchise or start their own companies.

Savvy entrepreneurs know that down times are the best for improving staff expertise, processes and equipment. When no one else is buying, these assets are easier to find and typically less expensive than during a boom. And once in place, they help to jump-start business in a recovering economy.

There are many other trends that offer ground floor and continuing opportunities for workers who are aware of what their options are and how to pursue them. If your industry or profession has few jobs available or no longer interests you, expand your possibilities. Someone has to fill these new jobs. Why not you?

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