Where The Jobs Are

This economy is both the best andthe worst of times. But while corporate downsizing is making for a bleak future, there are still career opportunities to be found.

and small business contracts will definitely increase,” says Vincent L. Lewis, an information technology consultant in Washington, D.C. “There will be a strong demand for individuals with math and science backgrounds.”

Currently, more than 1.5 million people work as systems analysts, engineers, and scientists; and the BLS projects a 36% (or greater) increase in such jobs over the next six years.

Positions such as computer programmer, systems analyst and database administrator already have more demand than bodies, according to the BLS and The Hudson Institute’s demographic department. For example, Lucent Technologies recently announced plans to cut 10,000 workers in areas that include marketing and human resources, while simultaneously posting hundreds of new jobs for data networkers and engineers.

As with technology, the demand for professionals in the healthcare and research fields is expected to increase exponentially. The nursing shortage, deemed a “crisis” by the medical community, offers an unparalleled opportunity for African Americans to earn a living in healthcare. According to the BLS, nursing (the largest healthcare occupation with more than 2 million workers), will have the largest numbers of new jobs of those occupations projected to see growth.

One factor that will contribute to this growth: age. As the older population increases, they will, more likely need medical care than younger people; and older, more experienced nurses are retiring, further contributing to the crisis.

Employment in home healthcare is also expected to increase, spurring the need for caregivers (nurse’s aides, home-health aides, physician’s assistants) in residential care facilities and hospitals. Add to this the pressure on hospitals to release patients sooner — and you have a boon to the $123 billion long-term care industry.

A National Alliance for Caregiving in Bethesda, Maryland, and an AARP study finds that 22 million people in this country now care for family members — a job for which they are ill prepared. In an AARP survey, 39% of African Americans who cared for older family members, were stressed by issues related to caregiving responsibilities.

Besides the older population, baby boomers — all 76 million of them — also have a say in the healthcare field. They’ve made it clear that they want to live longer, healthier lives, and they’re willing to pay good money for it, hence the need for scientists in the areas of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Pharmaceutical companies spend at least $116 billion annually researching, testing, and developing drugs to treat and cure diseases. Careers in the research and testing arms of drug companies are ripe for entry. Additionally, stronger competition among drug companies will contribute to the need for innovative scientists and researchers.

Despite the trend toward downsizing, the need for temporary and outsourced work will grow. A quarter of the workforce is already composed of “free agents” or temporary or contract workers, reports Kelly Services, a Colorado Springs, Colorado, placement agency. “That figure will undoubtedly increase. Downsizing only cuts costs, not work; so, a wise option is to hire temps to complete projects,” says Victoria Lowe, president and CEO of Alert Staffing in Culver City, California (No. 13 on the

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