January 4, 2011 | Suzanne Shaffer | 1 Comment This month, a new book to be released, Closing America’s Job Gap, suggests that there is a disparity between the good jobs being created by innovation and the lack of American workers with the right skills to fill those jobs. According to Mary Walshok, a thought leader on career reinvention and the new innovation economy, “The future is bright if job seekers can figure out how to align continuing education with America’s areas of successful innovation.” Ms. Walshok, along with co-authors Tapan Munroe and Henry DeVries, state that job opportunities are plentiful if you are willing to be retrained or pursue those career paths that offer the greatest opportunity. The book lists the top ten innovative sectors to consider when pursuing a career: 1. Embedded engineering A staggering 11 billion processors were used in embedded systems during 2007 and that number has increased dramatically over the last few years. Virtually every electronic device designed and manufactured today contains an embedded system. Embedded systems are often placed inside equipment that is expected to operate continuously for years without any user intervention. An embedded systems engineer needs to be a multidisciplinary engineer with software programming skills and a broad background in electronic engineering. UC Irvine and UC SanDiego currently offer degrees and/or certificates in the area of embedded systems engineering. If this is an area that interests you, you should research the pre-requisite requirements and set your educational goals around a program of study in this field. 2. Mobile Media Cell phones and other mobile devices are now multifunction devices that enable users to perform any number of tasks by using one device. Graphic designers, videographers and video editors, casual game/app developers and software engineers are needed to design and develop sites and content on these mobile platforms. A person who is interested in this type of career might pursue the following degree plans: Computer Graphics, Computer Software and Media Applications, Computer Software Engineering, and/or Computer Software Technology. You can find colleges that offer these degrees at the College Navigator website by entering these majors in the search criteria. 3. Occupational Health and Safety The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11 percent job growth over the next decade to cope with the technological advances in safety equipment, changing government regulations and increasing public expectations. The projection further asserts that 6 out of the 10 jobs will be in the private sector, offering opportunities for employment in this specific field. Over 100 colleges and universities offer degree plans related to Occupational Health and Safety, providing training and certification in this field of expertise. 4. English translation and foreign languages In the next 40 years, it is predicted that the number of Spanish speakers in the United States will rise from 31 million to more than 100 million. For those completely bilingual in Spanish and English, these highly marketable language skills open doors to new careers. 5. Renewable energy and the greening of all jobs By the mid-21st century, according to the study, all jobs will be green jobs. Organizations today must address potential regulation changes and recognize the new era of sustainable environmental economics. This opens up a vast opportunity for those just beginning their education or choosing to make a career change. The University of Illinois, Yale University, and the University of California have conducted studies related to renewable sources of energy and it has produced some interesting facts. The first and most important one is that renewable energy policies will lead to employment opportunities. Secondly, it will increase the consumer’s income and thirdly, it will have positive effect on the US economy too. The study Clean Energy & Climate Policy for U.S. Growth and Job Creation: An Economic Assessment of the American Clean Energy & Security Act and the Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act presents quite an encouraging estimate. According to them as many as 1.9 million new jobs could be created across the United States within the renewable energy sphere. 6. Teaching English as a foreign language Half the world’s population is expected to be speaking English by 2015. As the world rushes to acquire English, the new language of international commerce, diplomacy, and higher education, the bulk of teaching opportunities abroad are for those who teach English. Your “credential” is simply being a native speaker of the English language. The ability to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) may be all you need to obtain a job and a work permit abroad in areas such as Asia and Eastern Europe, and many other English teaching jobs exist around the globe. 7. Action sports innovators You might be surprised to learn that despite the current economic slump, the surf/skate industry has shown a notable resiliency during recent economic global challenges. U.S. retail sales were over $7 billion in 2008, according to the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA). If you want to learn more about action sports careers and the professionals involved in them, you can check out this site: Malakye.com, where you will find job postings for careers in the field of action sports. 8. Setting up an independent consulting business When setting up an independent business you are marketing your skills and experience, whether in fine cabinet making, catering, event planning, technical writing, contract engineering or even strategic planning. Providing a service (along with the labor) gives you an edge when companies have a job to be done but don’t have workers available. If you have a skill that’s marketable, this might be a good career option. 9. Geriatric health care In the U.S., 34 million are 65 years or older, and that population will double by 2030. The growing population of seniors continues to have a major impact on careers in health care. Sacred Heart University in Connecticut is one of the many universities that recognize the need for education in the field of Geriatric health wellness and offers undergraduate minors, graduate certificates, and MS degrees focusing on this specific area of the population. 10. Repurposing America‘s skilled and technical workers for “new economy” applications There continues to be a demand for welders, pipe fitters and mechanics. While these might not be considered glamorous jobs, there is a demand for these skilled technicians in the labor force. Nearly 100 percent of welding school graduates are finding rapid job placement. While about 500,000 welders are currently working in the U.S., the average welder is now nearing retirement age, with twice as many welders retiring as are being trained. For an introduction to welding schools and careers, follow this link: http://www.weldingschools.com/intro.html If you are preparing for college, just entering college, or considering a career change, you should make note of these job sectors. It makes sense to consider them if you are thinking about your future as you choose your education and career path. What surprised you about these 10 job sectors? Had you considered them before? Did one of them peak your interest? 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