Allison Cheston, Career Connector


Career Connector Blog

Where the Jobs Are 2010


If you examine the sectors that have not only weathered this recession but are in growth mode, you will notice a pattern. The majority of them can be categorized under two headings: Protection and Detection.

We are living in a world where fear for both our physical and financial security is a constant. If you are Generation X or younger, this may be your first encounter with such insidious worry. From a business perspective, with a new world order comes market opportunity. The companies that are helping us deal with these threats, both in terms of protecting us from them and creating preventive measures against them, are in some of the healthiest sectors.

Where does your sector fall on this spectrum? If you’re in healthcare, consider yourself lucky and/or prescient: this sector is on track for growth in both preventive care as well as early detection of disease. There has been an explosion in care and services for the aging, from those in their mid-40’s to the very elderly. Advances in orthopedic surgical techniques and devices are barely keeping pace with the demand of aging Baby Boomers. Assisted living facilities and geriatric care experts to staff them are cropping up all over the country as people continue to live longer. To give you an idea, U.S. nursing homes and assisted living facilities have combined revenue of $165 billion, with projected investment of $490 billion by 2030.

Topping the charts in terms of scare factor and rate of occurrence, cancer falls in both the protection and detection realms. It’s the second-leading cause of death in the United States, and the world market for cancer therapeutics is growing at a brisk double-digit pace, with revenues surpassing $40 billion this year.

Thinking about technology, the future of detection (and protection, of course), depends on it, and the US is home to more than 140,000 tech companies with combined annual revenue of about $900 billion.

What else are businesses focused on? With so much geopolitical, economic and ethical uncertainty, advances in compliance for business, and risk management for both the physical and financial protection of businesses and people, will continue their steep trajectories. Companies will pay a premium for specialized financial, accounting and modeling skills, technical and cross-cultural expertise. Concern about the environment means huge investment in conservation projects and green initiatives including clean technology, for the foreseeable future.

What about education? There will continue to be investment in education overall, with the goal of helping the U.S. compete, especially in science and technology. According to MIT geophysics professor Maria T. Zuber, “Energy and climate could be our next Sputnik challenge”, referring to the launching of Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957, which spurred major U.S. investment in education in science, math and technology and led to a boom in those areas.

In other areas of education, increased investment in the treatment and education of children with learning differences means that hiring in special education and related areas will be aggressive, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The point of this post is not to provide an exhaustive list of career tracks but to ask you to think about how you can tie socioeconomic and cultural trends to where the jobs lie now and in the future. Think proactively about your particular position and industry, in terms of where they fit on the protection and detection spectrum, and you’ll get clues to how you can augment your skill set now to distinguish yourself in the job market now and in the future.

And of course, please keep me posted.