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Thousands of jobs expected for skilled, educated  
February  15, 2012 

Thousands of job openings are expected in southwest Ohio in the next five years in the fields of computer science, insurance and finance and accounting, and the labor needs will exceed the number of new college graduates with relevant degrees, according to a new study. 

Young people had an abysmal employment rate last year, and many are struggling to compete for jobs with older, out-of-work residents with more experience and education. But many unemployed Ohioans are not qualified to fill positions in those growth fields, and young graduates with proper training will have a competitive advantage. 

“The world of employment is getting more specialized, and it’s a knowledge economy,” said Jane Dockery, associate director at Wright State University’s Center for Urban and Public Affairs. “Everything is becoming more technical.” 

Dockery was the co-author of the new study that analyzes education, economic and U.S. Department of Labor statistics. Her study looked at universities producing graduates in 17 counties across southwest Ohio, including Wright State, the University of Dayton, Miami University and The Ohio State University. 

In 2011, there were about 2,945 openings in southwest Ohio in finance and accounting jobs, according to the study. But colleges in the region produced only about 1,775 college graduates trained in those fields and who planned to stay in Ohio. 

The number of openings in those fields is expected to increase by 13 percent between 2011 and 2016, but the number of graduates with training for those jobs is not expected to keep pace. 

Finance and accounting jobs are projected to experience strong growth in the coming years, because businesses will need experts who can advise them on investments and analyze their financial information. 

Tax laws and business regulations are complicated, and the business world pays a premium for quality accountants because of the technical difficulty of the jobs, said Marc Rubin, the PricewaterhouseCoopers professor of accounting and chair of the department of accountancy at Miami. 

Businesses compete in a global marketplace, and a growing number of companies need experts who understand the intricacies of domestic and foreign markets and accounts. 

“As businesses get more complex, businesses need information, and accountants are the information specialists,” Rubin said. “We train our students how to figure out how to take what is out there in the world and make sense of it and make business decisions out of it.” 

Between 2011 and 2016, computer science jobs are also anticipated to grow by about 8 percent while the number of college graduates qualified for those jobs is forecasted to fall short of the demand. 

The study said in 2011 there were about 1,605 job openings in the computer science sector in southwest Ohio, but colleges in the region only produced 570 graduates with relevant degrees who planned to remain in the area. 

Computer science was a popular major during the 1990s, but then the Internet bubble burst and its popularity waned, said Jason Eckert, University of Dayton’s director of career service. 

Eckert said also that there is a misperception that information technology jobs are disappearing and most are being sent overseas. He said openings for these kinds of jobs are abundant, but a shortage of qualified workers means some employers are having to find employees outside of the state. 

Lastly, Ohio’s insurance industry is also expected to have a worker shortage of about 1,300 positions annually, according to Dockery. Occupations in that industry in the next five years are expected to grow by about 6 percent. 

Ohio is home to about 251 insurance companies, and the industry is about the 12th largest employer in the state, said Mary Bonelli, spokeswoman for the Ohio Insurance Institute. 

The industry employed 96,000 people in 2010, and many workers in the industry are 50 and older, some of whom will soon retire, she said. Experts said the statewide growth in insurance jobs is linked to the large number of companies that call Ohio home. 

In general, job fields that are growing faster tend to require high-skilled, highly educated workers, and that explains why some employers are having difficulty finding qualified candidates, said Ryan Hunt, career adviser with CareerBuilder, based out of Chicago, 

A 2012 CareerBuilder survey found that hiring managers at 35 percent of information technology businesses and 33 percent of financial service companies reported having positions that they could not fill because of a lack of qualified candidates. 

A recent report by the state of Ohio found that 55 percent of job openings in the state in the next 10 years will require some type of post-secondary education, but about 60 percent of unemployed workers have no more than a high school degree. 

Officials said unless more Ohioans obtain training in those growth sectors, companies will be unable to expand or they will have to rely on hiring from other states. Career advisers said students and job-seekers should be aware of what industries are poised for growth to help them determine what field of studies they want to pursue. 

But advisers warn strongly against choosing a career path simply because it has promising job prospects. They said interest in the career is just as important as the number of jobs available. 

“When I talk to young people, my first advice to them is to find something they are passionate about,” Eckert said. “I want someone to follow their passion, and you could pick an area that is growing, and wake up every morning and hate having to go into work.” 

Dockery’s study also found that there will be about 748 annual openings in criminal justice jobs in the region, while colleges will only produce about 757 graduates each year. 

She noted that graduates of particular degree programs could certainly wind up in other fields, and business degrees often prepare students to be adaptable and flexible across multiple industries. 

Read this and other articles at the Dayton Daily News

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