Here’s what the 2020 jobs forecast tells us

Healthcare and related industry jobs are expected to account for 18 of the 30 fastest-growing occupations, according to a 2018-to-2028 projections report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this fall. The report also points to employment growth in personal care and service occupations (17.4%); computer and mathematical occupations (12.7%); healthcare and technical occupations (11.9%); and community and social-service occupations (11.2%).

“Healthcare and IT are the elephant in the room,” says Alan Lacey, technical lead and economist in the division of occupational employment projections at the BLS. “Their [employment] growth doesn’t necessarily surprise us. That’s where we’ve seen things [grow] over the last half decade or more.”

He explains that the country’s aging population and increased rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, are the likely drivers behind job growth in healthcare. Likewise, the increased use of mobile and connected devices in homes and workplaces and the need for cybersecurity are continuing to fuel demand for IT positions, such as software developers (25.6%) and information security analysts (31.6 %), Lacey says.

 But some positions will continue to struggle. Sales and related occupations are expected to decline by .5%, as more people shop online. Office and administrative-support occupations and production jobs will decline–2.6% and 4.5%, respectively–as advancements in technology and automation increase productivity or shift work to other positions.

Still, the worst decline is in manufacturing, which already lost 716,800 jobs between 2008 and 2018. The BLS says the industry is expected to have the largest decrease, losing another 640,700 jobs by 2028.

Develop Realistic Expectations

Considering the strong demand for talent in IT, HR and also renewable energy–solar panel installers are expected to grow by 63.3% and wind turbine technicians by 56.9%–it will be critical for HR professionals to be proactive with line managers next year, says Brandi Britton, district president at Robert Half and global recruiter.

She says HR professionals need to address manager expectations regarding which employee skills, capabilities and experiences will be valued in 2020 or beyond and also coach them about employee retention. To avoid high employee turnover, she suggests evaluating the salaries of these positions and then bringing them up to current standards.

“Set expectations with line managers about being flexible with what they’re hiring for,” Britton adds. “What’s most important–technical skills or culture fit? Educate them about what’s going on in the market so they can be ready when they’ve got open positions. Who are they going to get? Come up with a strategy to attract people that managers will want.”

Britton says some employers have begun focusing on hiring candidates with soft skills, such as those who are adaptable, coachable, team players and willing to learn or be trained. But that strategy may not be needed for some positions, such as those related to IT where flexibility or culture fit is less important.

Meanwhile, ensure your jobs postings are updated to attract diverse candidates, and think twice about leaving positions vacant for many months while searching for ideal candidates.

“[Avoid] risking potential turnover of current staff who are overworked,” Britton says. “It might be better to get someone a little more junior and train them to fill that gap and keep their staff happy [versus] burning out.”

Full-Timers, Gig Workers and Machines

HR professionals also need to step outside traditional boundaries by adopting a progressive mindset, adds Art Mazor, global HR transformation leader at Deloitte, a global consulting firm. Instead of focusing on attracting, developing and retaining employees, he says, access, curate and engage them.

He explains that HR’s talent strategy should target a combination of full-timers, part-timers, freelancers and automation. Implement creative ways to curate worker experiences so they develop new skills and then engage them during the time they’re with your organization, regardless of how long they stay. Keep in mind that the median number of years that wage and salary workers stayed with their employer was 4.2 years in January 2018, according to the BLS.

Meanwhile, other occupations will continue to emerge, largely due to advances in technology and evolving customer expectations. Mazor says these “super jobs” will result from redesigning or recoding work based on humans and machines working side by side. That will require HR to marry people and machines, guide, coach and lead their companies toward identifying the right kinds of talent approaches and strategies.

“We’re seeing the beginning of a wave,” he says. “In some ways, jobs that have emerged over the last 15 years are a bit of a shot across the bow, an awakening to let us know that more of this is coming. This is a leadership opportunity for HR like we’ve never seen before. Prepare, be bold and lead.”


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Carol Patton
Carol Patton is a contributing editor for HRE who also writes HR articles and columns for business and education magazines. She can be reached at [email protected]