State occupancy outlook highlights labor needs by sector

Jen Bradshaw was struggling to find software and app developers even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.

Workers with these high-demand skills land jobs at companies on the West Coast and across states, where they earn more working remotely than they could with a local employer in West Michigan.

Employers’ ability to find software and app developers has only gotten worse during the pandemic as remote work has become the norm, tightening the market for talent in a profession that is proving to be one of Michigan’s fastest growing occupations, according to the state’s updated outlook released this month. .

Professionals in the field increasingly want to work remotely after getting used to it and “don’t want to drive to the office even for a day or two during the week,” said Bradshaw, the shine finder chief in Grand Haven. technical recruiter Paragon USA LLC.

Some of Bradshaw’s local clients have had vacancies for several months and are “feeling the pain” of trying to compete with West Coast salaries.

“This was happening before COVID,” Bradshaw said in an email to MiBiz. “We had people sitting in West Michigan working remotely for companies located in California, Arizona and Texas. This trend continues to rise. It’s hard to try to steer someone away from those higher salaries. We haven’t seen much movement in terms of job changes during (2020), however, 2021 has been different. People are starting to move… for other 100% remote opportunities.

New professional perspectives

Earlier this month, Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management, and Budget released a series of regional job outlooks forecasting career demand through 2028. applications are expected to grow 14.3% annually through 2028 in a 13-county region of western Michigan. .

This is the third highest projected growth rate among the 20 fastest growing occupations that require a four-year college degree, according to the new outlook. Software and application developers are also among the most in-demand occupations in Michigan’s Southwest Seven Counties region, with a projected annual growth rate of 18.4%.

The state regularly updates job growth projections for the top 20 high-demand occupations in eight Michigan regional markets. The projections are divided into five categories based on education required, high school graduation, and short-term training at bachelor’s degree or above.

The data lists percentage growth rates and the actual number of planned job openings in a year.

The latest outlook reflects trends that have been occurring for years, with skilled trades in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, construction and information technology leading the fastest growing occupations, said Jacob Maas, CEO of West Michigan Works! in Grand Rapids.

West Michigan Works! uses the state’s outlook and compares the data with its own projections for hot jobs based on regular conversations with employers and educators to gauge future demand for talent and plan job training programs, Maas said.

Maas hopes the prospects for the fastest-growing jobs will inspire more people to enter those skilled professions or trades that are experiencing persistent labor shortages that have worsened during the pandemic.

“That’s the big thing: Can we get people to start thinking or rethinking what work is like? On the contrary, I hope it will inspire people to start thinking about careers, professions and other things, because right now we need workers,” Maas said. “It’s definitely a great tool for someone wondering what other jobs are out there.”

Michigan’s civilian workforce was about 4.7 million people in July, slightly lower than in June, and down 120,000 people, or 4%, from July 2020, according to the latest data. on state unemployment.

In one of the ‘biggest surprises,’ the state’s outlook projects the western Michigan region as a whole to lead the state with projected job growth of 2.6% until 2028, Maas said. No other region exceeds 2% overall, he said.

This is a positive sign for the region and a clear indication that key sectors such as manufacturing and the office furniture industry remain strong, even as employers around the world continue to face labor shortages. work, said Maas.

Hot jobs

The region’s population growth is driving job growth, Maas said. Recent data from the US Census Bureau shows that Ottawa and Kent are among the fastest growing counties in Michigan.

In terms of the number of future job openings, the fastest growing occupations in West Michigan that require a two-year degree or apprenticeship are machinists, carpenters, electricians, millwrights, industrial machinery and plumbers, pipe fitters and steam fitters. Occupational therapy assistants ranked first and respiratory therapists ranked third for high-demand jobs in Southwest Michigan that require a degree or two-year apprenticeship.

CNC machine tool programmers easily outpaced the outlook for the fastest growing occupations in both regions that require at least post-secondary education or medium-duration training. That occupancy will grow about 26.7% per year in western Michigan through 2028 and 23.5% in southwest Michigan, the outlook says.

Among the fastest growing occupations in West Michigan requiring a four-year degree, addiction, behavior, and mental health counselors are projected to grow 17.3%, and the state expects this that the positions of market research analysts and marketers are increasing by 15.7% each year. until 2028.

Physician assistant ranks as the fastest growing occupation in Southwest Michigan with a projected increase of 21.9%, although the actual number of job openings per year is relatively low at 25 Registered nurse positions, by comparison, are expected to increase by 5% per year but with 410 job openings per year.

Health professions top the list of fastest growing occupations in West and Southwest Michigan that require at least a degree or a two-year apprenticeship.

The state projects job openings in western Michigan for occupational therapists to grow 20% annually through 2028 and 25% in southwest Michigan. The state projects that jobs for respiratory therapists will increase 19.5% in western Michigan and 14.3% in southwest Michigan.

Job openings for physical therapy assistants in West Michigan are expected to grow 15.2% annually, followed by diagnostic medical stenographers at 11.9%, according to the state outlook..

Michael A. Bynum