The pandemic has brought greater attention to jobs and industries that are essential to our society. That list is long and includes a variety of fields where a college degree is as essential as the job itself.
At the very top is health care. We need nurses. We need respiratory therapists, lab technicians, mental health professionals, and rehabilitation specialists. These careers were in demand long before the pandemic — and the crisis of the past year has underscored just how critical the next generation of graduates is in our ability to continue to meet that demand.
During “normal” times, a college degree provides opportunity. It provides job security, pathways to higher paying careers, and has even been tied to increased happiness and stability.
The pandemic hasn’t changed that. It has, however, highlighted careers that will remain in demand over the next decade and our need as a community to recruit for them.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth nationally in health care, technology, finance, information security, and education. Regionally, the top in-demand college graduates are in the fields of nursing, business management, medical and health services, finance, teaching, mental health and substance abuse, social work, environmental science, marketing, and dental hygiene.
We’ve been preparing for growth in these areas at Shawnee State with expanded programs, some of which are available now fully online. That’s good news because people in our region don’t have to leave the area to prepare for job growth and their future career. Even better news for those looking for the fastest path to a high-paying job is that many of these in-demand careers can start with just a two-year degree. The key is to not let the pandemic delay your attainment of a college degree. Although SSU and other schools have been forced to make changes in delivery, we continue to offer quality education and services that will get you on track.
We’ve learned many lessons in this pandemic. I encourage you to listen to what the pandemic has been telling us about our workforce needs of today and the future. Whether you are a high school student considering your path after graduation, or an adult learner considering a job change, I invite you to learn more about the opportunities that a college education can provide.
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper
Dr. Jeff Bauer is President of Shawnee State University and the proud parent of three SSU graduates. He joined Shawnee State as its first geology professor in 1987 and has spent his career advocating college access and affordability. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.