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Hot job demands in Ohio: truck drivers and nurses


Many Ohio employers are looking for workers, but the occupations with the most online job postings tend to be in either low-skilled fields where turnover is constant or high-skilled areas where there are shortages of workers.

Last year, the occupations with the most online job postings included commercial truckers, registered nurses, retail sales workers, customer service representatives, retail managers and supervisors. Other professions that dominated some online help wanted jobs included computer systems analysts and computer support specialists.

Some of these occupations are among the fastest-growing in the state.

Experts said the low-wage occupations have an abundance of openings because employers struggle to attract and retain workers. Positions in the higher-wage occupations often go unfilled because employers cannot find workers with the skills they need.

“A lot of these jobs have higher levels of technical skills,” said Lewis Horner, chief of workforce research with the Ohio Bureau of Labor Market Information. “Someone who wants better opportunities, might do well to consider some of these occupations.”

In 2012, the occupation with the most online help wanted ads in the state was heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, according to data from OhioMeansJobs.com, an online search tool for employers and job-seekers.

Not all online job sites are included in the data, and not all job openings are advertised online, officials said. Online postings tend to be skewed toward jobs with higher skills, and some ads may be duplicates or may not represent an actual open position.

Challenges to become truck drivers

But truck drivers are in high demand because not enough people are interested in the profession, said David Bartosic, communications director of the Ohio Trucking Association. Fewer people want to be truck drivers, many are not qualified and most insurance companies will not provide coverage to drivers until they are 23, which means many young people have jobs in other fields by the time they are old enough to be insured, Bartosic said.

“You have to get a (commercial driver’s license), get training, pass a physical and drug test, and many folks just aren’t willing to do that,” he said.

Many insurance companies will not provide coverage to drivers until they are 23 years old, and by that time, many people have joined other industries, said Sherri Warner, the association’s legal counsel.

Also, truck loads are increasing every year, and trucking firms are struggling to meet the rising demand because the work is hard and finding qualified drivers is not easy, industry experts said.

“For long-haul companies, many drivers want to be home each night with their family and they are not willing to be gone from home for several days at a time,” said Sherri Warner, the association’s legal counsel.

The postings also reflect an expanding sector. Between 2010 and 2020, employment of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in Ohio is expected to increase by 17 percent to 77,460 workers, according to recently updated estimates from the Bureau of Labor Market Information.

In Ohio, the average pay for these drivers was about $19.07 per hour in May 2011, the bureau said, and there will be about 2,447 annual job openings in the state for truck drivers between 2010 and 2020, the bureau said. Other truck-driving jobs are also expected to see significant job increases by 2020.

Fastest growing job: nursing

Job postings for registered nurses were the second most common online help wanted ad last year. In December, there were about 6,210 job postings statewide.

Officials said this was no surprise, because it also is one of the fastest growing occupations in Ohio.

Between 2010 and 2020, employment of registered nurses in the state is expected to increase 20 percent to 157,000 workers, the bureau predicts. Home health aides is the only occupation that is anticipated to create more jobs during that time.

Some of the job growth is tied to the aging baby boomer population, who are living longer and will require more health care services, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The occupation will also receive a boost from advancements in medical technology that expands treatment options for patients, increasing the number of services and products available. More emphasis on preventative care will also help grow payrolls.

Some of the demand for new nurses stems from the need to replace retiring employees, said Brandy Artz, a nurse recruiter for the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. Last Friday, Artz helped run a booth at a job fair at Sinclair Community College in order to make contacts with potential job candidates and identify talent.

“We have a lot of nurses who are retiring and moving on, so for us that is one the reasons we are recruiting new people,” she said.

The Bureau of Labor Market Information estimates that there will be about 2,361 annual job openings for registered nurses through 2020 linked to the need to replace nurses who are leaving the job. Registered nurses in Ohio on average earned $29.67 per hour in 2011.

Turnover in retail industry

According to the job postings, other workers in high demand include retail sales people and first-line supervisors and managers of retail sales workers. Combined, these occupations accounted for more than 7,500 online postings in December.

Turnover is extremely high in the retail sector, because it is entry-level work that does not typically pay high wages. The average wage of retail salespeople was $11.56 per hour, the bureau said.

Employment for retail sales workers in the state will grow more than 9 percent between 2010 and 2020 to 170,580 workers, the bureau said. Customer service employment — another common online job posting — is expected to grow to 85,430 jobs in 2020 from 78,590 in 2010. The average pay in 2011 was about $15.67 per hour.

In December, there were 2,688 online job postings for computer systems analysts, and 2,111 for computer support specialists. Average wages ranged from $22.21 per hour for support specialists to $37.86 per hour for systems analysts.

In retail and other lower-wage sectors, employers are constantly looking for new workers because there is so much turnover and they need to replace departing employees, said June Shelp, vice president of the New York-based Conference Board, which provides the economic time series data for OhioMeansJobs.com.

But then there are higher-paying occupations where the demand for workers exceeds the supply, such as computer specialists, she said.

In December, there were 1.9 unemployed workers in sales and related jobs for every job opening in the field, according to the Conference Board. But there were still plenty of job openings because employees regularly quit or switch jobs.

Right degree and skills

By comparison, there were only 0.3 unemployed workers in the computer and mathematical science field for every online job posting nationwide, the Conference Board said. These jobs require highly technical skills and high levels of education, and the number of job-seekers with those skill sets are extraordinarily insufficient to meet the demand, officials said.

All degrees are valuable, but professional degrees in highly technical fields can give job-seekers an advantage in the job hunt because often much fewer people are qualified to fill openings in those areas, said Jeff Reep, a certified professional career coach and director of career services at Cedarville University.

“Imagine there are all these different shapes, like a circle, a square and a rectangle, and those are jobs that you need specific training to do, such as the computer specialist, the nurse and the pharmacist,” Reep said. “If I go to school and become licensed by the state of Ohio, then I become a round peg, and I only compete against round pegs.”

Some employers are willing to undertake long job searches to find candidates with precisely the skills they want instead of settling for one with fewer qualifications.

“Employers, by and large, are looking for people who have the skills they want when they walk in the door,” said Adam Murka, spokesman for Sinclair Community College. “Your odds are much better with more education.”

Employers in some of the good-paying and highly technical job fields often will undergo long job searches to find the right candidate, said Horner, with the Bureau of Labor Market Information.

“It’s still kind of a buyer’s market, and employers are in a position to say, ‘I want X,Y,Z skills,’ and if they don’t get them, they might be willing to wait rather than take someone with only X and Y skills,” Horner said.

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