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Jobs Outlook Positive in NKY, Need for Education Investment Highlighted

 

Over 300,000 jobs will become available in the Northern Kentucky region between now and 2020, according to a recently-released Jobs Outlook report.

Recent announcements, including the location and expansion of several e-commerce companies like iHerb, Elovations and NorAm, have given N.Ky. a glimmer of what to expect in coming years in terms of job growth. To prepare for the high-tech and skilled jobs that will become increasingly in demand, Northern Kentucky will need to continue to invest in education..

The recently-released 2020 Jobs Outlook report for Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky takes a measured look at the jobs forecast in the region over the next eight years. The report – produced in collaboration between Agenda 360, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, the Strive Partnership, and Vision 2015 – uses data collected for the annual Regional Indicators Report, which analyzes 15 key economic health indicators and compares this region’s indicators to those of 11 other comparable regions. That data is then assessed in order to project job growth in the region to the year 2020.

Where the jobs are

 

The Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region is projected to grow by about 1.1% annually, with an estimated 338,632 job openings over the remaining decade for a total of 1,069,405 jobs by 2020. That lands the region in the top five in terms of total employment among peer regions.

Of these annual job openings, 106,115 are “net new” jobs, while 232,517 are “replacement” jobs. “Net new” refers to the demand for more of a particular occupation – how many workers will be needed versus how many are already employed. “Replacement” refers to positions that will need to be filled after current employees retire, change careers or move. All told, roughly two-thirds of the job openings over the next eight years will be replacement jobs, many of which need some level of specialized training.

“We looked at employment by occupation,” explains Janet Harrah, senior director for the Center for Economic Analysis and Development. “We tend to talk about ‘industries,’ like manufacturing and construction, but [we] hire by occupation. In manufacturing, you hire an engineer or a welder. We were looking at a report of occupations versus industries. When we looked at the forecast horizon we asked, ‘What are the occupations that will be most in demand?’”

Major occupations with the highest growth (and highest pay rates) will be healthcare practitioners and technicians, education-related fields, business and financial occupations, and computer and mathematical occupations. These occupation categories will grow at a rate of over 2% per year and pay above the median wage of $33,130. Construction, installation, maintenance and repair occupations (which also pay above-median wages) are also projected to grow.

Education crucial to economic strength

 

The importance of post-secondary education for the health of our nation’s economy has never been in sharper relief. Roughly half of all job openings in N.Ky. will require some post-secondary education by 2020. For higher-paying jobs (those that pay above the median of $33,130), over 90% will require a post-secondary credential, whether a bachelor’s or professional degree or a specialized training training credential. Spending some time in college is not enough — these jobs will require people to persist and earn a certification or degree.

“When we look at the business press, they tend to focus on net new job growth because they focus on what sectors are growing in the economy,” Harrah explains. “When looking at it from the training and education perspective, it’s important to train for the jobs we already have. You can’t grow your economy if you don’t have a pipeline to train the new workers for the jobs we already have. It’s important to recognize the impact these jobs have on the area.”

Some of the job groups that will most be in need of replacement workers include management, business and financial operations, accountants and auditors, computer and mathematical science occupations, architecture and engineering occupations, and education. All of these jobs pay well, but they all require additional training and education after high school.

“Because they’re already big occupation groups, just because of sheer replacement needs, we’re going to need [specified] education,” Harrah says. She calls healthcare, IT, and education “the big three,” and emphasizes that the focus should not be on overall job growth (or lack thereof in some occupations) but on maintaining the jobs that are already part of the community with a focus on occupation-specific education and meeting the increase in replacement job needs with a ready pipeline of new workers. The state-of-the-art interdisciplinary programs offered by the College of Informatics at NKU and the specialized, employer-driven training programs available at Gateway Community and Technical College, already a tremendous asset to the region, will only become more important in providing the workforce Northern Kentucky needs to support growth.

“When looking at job growth and [whether] will we have opportunities for young people coming out of school, as long as job growth is keeping up with population growth there is some equilibrium,” Harrah states. Net new job growth might not be occurring as rapidly as would be preferred, but in this regard this region is keeping the pace with the rest of the country. “No one [in the country] is growing jobs at a rapid pace right now. We’re adding jobs at about the same rate as everyone else. We’re all in the same boat.”

This article was provided by Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development and was written by Nicole Rupersberg