There are a lot of questions about the ability of the employment market to rebound in 2021. However, employment officials point to three top areas with current job opportunities that will continue into the new year: logistics and trucking, medical and information technology.
“For folks who are in those industries, you can get work, and you can probably get work for the foreseeable future,” said Kevin Holt, director of Ohio Means Jobs for Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
The expectation of a turnaround in the job market next year is consistent with some early signs Ohio jobs officials said they are seeing. According to Kimberly Henderson, director of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, there already has been growth in manufacturing, retail and temporary agencies. But the largest growth sector is expected to be in medical jobs for several years to come.
“Especially within doctors' offices and outpatient clinics,” she said. “We believe we’re poised for a robust economic recovery. The early signs are underway, and we expect more of that certainly into next year.”
Holt said the desire is to get workers into jobs that offer a living wage. In addition to medical fields, he believes there are some industries with a faster track to well-paying jobs.
“The biggest, easiest way to get into a living-wage job right now with training or without it is trucking and logistics,” Holt said. “If working with Amazon or so many of these companies that are moving things around the country, and whether that’s warehouse-based or trucking-based, you can get jobs right now.”
Wait and see
Currently, unemployment in the state of Ohio is at 5.7%, based on the latest numbers available for the month of November. It's 5.6% in Kentucky and 5% in Indiana. The numbers are lower than we saw earlier in 2020; however, Holt believes there is more to the numbers.
"We think that’s technically true, but it doesn’t reflect reality,” said Holt. “You’ve got a bunch of people waiting on the sidelines who may or may not return to the economy.”
He said some who are unemployed are waiting to see what happens next. They want to see what happens to wages, the economy and other things like childcare services and exposure to COVID-19.
“To both employers and job seekers, it’s made people gun-shy. People are very slow to take risks. They’re not going to leave their house to work for $13 an hour in an environment where they’re exposed to COVID,” Holt said.
Meanwhile, employers in some industries want to know what the post-COVID economy looks like, according to Holt. With a vaccine now becoming available, the pace of how quickly people are able to get access to the vaccine could potentially have an impact on job openings.
“I think our collective hope is the vaccine will open a lot of doors, allay a lot of fears, let a lot of employers hire and let a lot of job seekers accept those job offers,” Holt explained.
Paid training available
There are some who cannot wait for a vaccine or may need to pivot to a new job category where work is available now. There is paid training for some jobs right now, according to Holt, through a collaboration of agencies like Ohio Means Jobs, Hamilton County Job and Family Services, and the Southwest Ohio Regional Workforce Investment Board.
“We’ve got those dollars available. They’re sitting there. They’re being underutilized currently. And again, for the same reason people aren’t going out getting jobs right now, they’re hesitant to go to training right now,” said Holt.
He said taking advantage of paid training opportunities is a good way to leverage time off, if possible. For example, training for trucking jobs can be completed in 12 to 18 weeks.
“We also spend a lot of money on healthcare. We tend to emphasize entry-level healthcare jobs, STNA (state tested nurse aide), certified nursing assistants,” Holt said. Those jobs offer the ability to attain multiple certifications so that workers can continue their learning and continue their advancement into higher-paying medical jobs, he said.
Also, with the high demand for information technology and cybersecurity jobs, a lot of training dollars are being dedicated to that specialty. Holt said those potential jobs can include help desk, cybersecurity and programming. Holt said those interested in available training can call Ohio Means Jobs Cincinnati-Hamilton County to see what program works for them.
Free Amazon tech training
Right now, Amazon is offering free online computer skills training that the company believes will be needed in the coming years no matter where you work. They hope to impact 29 million workers by 2025.
“We also know that tech skills tend to be more resilient in an economic downturn. And so, by adding tech skills to existing skills, we can help people attain those opportunity jobs, really those jobs that are a gateway to a career,” said Ardine Williams, vice president of workforce development for Amazon.
Williams said the pandemic has pushed more people online, and that is creating a demand for cloud-computing skills. She said the online training covers cloud essential programs, fiber optics, splicing and installation, as well as a 12-week course the gives people tech and soft skills to move into new jobs.
“Even jobs that are not traditionally technical require people to understand the technology with which they’re working,” Williams said.