If you want job security, learn to drive a truck.
Or, put your bedside manner to use as a personal care aide or nursing assistant.
Those occupations are projected to have some of the highest job growth and opportunity in the New North region most of the next decade, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the U.S. Department of Labor.
Occupational projection data compiled by those two agencies shows jobs for personal care aides will see the greatest growth in demand from 2014 to 2024, with a need for 2,745 workers. They’re followed closely by truck drivers, with 1,854 projected openings, and food preparation workers, with 1,698 openings, according to the data.
“Truck driving is one of those jobs we certainly do push people to consider because it pays well and is a quick turnaround for training,” says Elizabeth Burns, director of retention support services at Fox Valley Technical College.
After those three jobs, the data begins to diverge between the two workforce agencies serving the region, the Bay Area and the Fox Valley Area workforce development boards. Those agencies cover all the counties in the New North region.
Rounding out the top 10 for the Bay Area are customer service representatives, sales representatives, janitors and cleaners, nursing assistants, cooks, retail sales and bartenders.
For the Fox Valley area, the list also includes nursing assistants, building cleaners, machine tool operators, customer service representatives, janitors and cleaners, CNC machine operators and industrial machine mechanics.
Many of the occupations showing the greatest amount of growth require minimal post-high school education, allowing prospective employees to get on the job quicker with less debt. A truck driver can complete basic driving education in 10 to 12 weeks, for example, and salaries can range from $30,000 a year to more than $60,000 a year, according to the data.
“A lot of the time, a student can start out in one these positions, get into the workforce and build into something else,” Burns says. “A lot of these will (lead) into other positions and an associate’s degree or higher.”
What the projections don’t necessarily reflect is job growth, or even new jobs created, by changes in the regional economy caused by factors such as automation or the Internet of Things. Many of those jobs may not have even existed at the time the data was collected.
Additionally, the data doesn’t necessarily reflect occupations that may be growing at a slower pace, but there is a tremendous gap between the positions available and the number of workers with the skills needed to perform the job.