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Top Job Fields for Michigan Grads in 2018 and Beyond

Hundreds of college students in the Greater Lansing area will graduate during the 2017-18 school year and begin their search for internships and jobs. Some will find success, wh…

Hundreds of college students in the Greater Lansing area will graduate during the 2017-18 school year and begin their search for internships and jobs. Some will find success, while others may not get that coveted position immediately. Knowing which markets are doing the most hiring will help area graduates know where to look for employment.

According to Phil Gardner, director of Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute, the market for new grads in the state is solid. Research shows about 13 percent more Michigan grads can expect to be hired this year.

“We have tracked this since 1970,” said Gardner. “This is the longest sustained period of growth we’ve seen for the college labor market.”

Gardner is responsible for Michigan State’s 47th annual Recruiting Trends survey, which surveyed more than 3,300 employers looking to hire college grads about their outlook for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Businesses are expected to increase hiring by 19 percent, including 15 percent more grads with a four-year degree and a 40 percent increase in hiring those with a two-year degree. Gardner said he was wowed at “how strong the market is,” and that students will little reason to distrust the market during their job search. Top contenders expecting to increase hiring beyond past years include information services (60 percent more), administrative services (49 percent more), wholesale trade (46 percent more) and transportation (32 percent more).

Other promising sectors in the survey included health care, construction, nonprofits, agriculture and professional, business and scientific services. However, manufacturing jobs went down in hiring by three percent, making the industry the only one listed in the negative.

According to statistics from the US Bureau of Labor, the top fields for 2018 for those with a bachelor’s degree include: teachers, except special or vocational education; accountants; computer systems analysts; computer software engineers; network systems and data communications analysts; construction managers; and market research analysts.

For those with an associate degree, top tiers include: nurses — RNs, LPNs, nursing aides, attendants, licensed vocational nurses — computer support specialists, cosmetologists, mechanics and auto service techs, preschool teachers, HVAC technicians, real estate agents and insurance agents.

The industries that will gain the most new jobs in 2018 appear as management, scientific and technical consulting; physician’s offices; computer systems design and related services; general merchandise stores; employment services; local government; home health care; services for the elderly and disabled; nursing care; and full-service restaurants.

Grads may wonder what employers are looking for besides a degree. Gardner’s study revealed that smaller businesses are looking for people who not only have the proper job skills but are flexible and able to work as a team, as well as be empathic and appreciate cultural differences. On the other hand, big companies reported they were competing with similar-sized companies and were fighting over qualified employment.

One area in Michigan hurting for employees is the professional trade arena, according to the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development (TED) and the state of Michigan. It’s predicted that, by 2024, Michigan jobs in this area will account for at least half a million jobs, with 15,000 of those being newly created jobs.

Dave Murray, communications director at TED, said, “Many people have outdated perceptions of the professional trades, but some are cutting edge, high-tech, high-skill professions that pay well.”

Professional trade industries include manufacturing, information technology (IT), health care, automotive and construction. Wages for these types of jobs are not necessarily low either, as the average starting salary is around $50,000.

Michigan and TED started an initiative called Going PRO to help promote professional trade jobs in the state. Going PRO began in 2016 with the second part starting in April of this year, which was heralded by Gov. Rick Snyder and Roger Curtis, director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, during the Governor’s Education and Talent Summit.

During the summit, Curtis said they were not “downplaying going to college,” but instead they were “up-playing” available ways that Michigan job seekers could get well-paying positions in growing arenas.

Students getting ready to graduate from high school or college should talk to their school counselors to get the information they need to make themselves desirable for hire, as well as talk to people who work in their chosen fields.

The bottom line: these job-market predictions for Michigan job seekers should have an easier time finding employment in 2018.

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