March 1, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
School of NursingWebsite
Kristen Munyan: I don't know that the nursing profession is at a point where we can predict the impact of COVID-19 on our job market yet. Right now we are still in extraordinarily high-demand, and hospitals continue to see COVID-19 related admissions that require high levels of nursing care. There have been discussions about how the pandemic will impact interest in the profession going forward, the retirement plans of existing nurses and graduate school enrollments. This is all still developing. Nursing is still responding to the immediate demands of the pandemic.
In my opinion, I think that the pandemic has reinforced the positive image of nurses on a national stage. In 2020, hospital-based nurses carried the burden of surging COVID-19 admissions, created care innovations to improve patient outcomes and worked tirelessly to save lives. In 2021, community-based nurses are leading us out of this dark time by organizing and running vaccine clinics and educating the public. I believe we will continue to see a high demand for nursing professionals in all-settings, and in nurses going back for advanced degrees that allow them advanced practice roles.
Kristen Munyan: By far the most important skill is the ability to think critically and identify safety concerns for the patient. Nursing is often thought of as being skill-focused. Our skills are vital, but they are much quicker to develop and refine than the cognitive aspect of our work. A graduate nurse who has a well-developed ability to see the patient's "big picture" will be far more effective than someone who has focused only on skills development. A graduate who can think in a critical way can coordinate the many disciplines involved in a patient's care, connect the details, provide education and keep the patient safe. Nursing is far more than just physical skills.
Kristen Munyan: Nursing continues to offer one of the best paying entry-level salaries for college graduates. There is some variation in salary dependent on geographic region, shift worked (midnights vs days, etc.) and specialty, but nurses generally command competitive pay. What we have seen become a trend now is that nurses who have worked for a few years are being offered the ability to travel to areas where there are shortages of nurses. These positions are generally temporary and pay premium rates. Nurses with critical care experience are particular in-demand for traveling positions since the pandemic.
Sara Hoeve Ph.D.: In the field of Education, the pandemic has created an even greater need for skilled teachers and support staff in K-12 schools. In the short term, many additional tasks have been assigned to our educators, such as preparing instruction for remote learners, maintaining safe distances between students, monitoring masks, checking temperatures, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Once the threat of the virus wanes, most experts expect that our teachers will adapt to a "new normal," taking ideas and tools that we implemented during pandemic teaching and applying them in new situations. Education graduates will enter a field that requires greater adaptability and collaboration, as they will be expected to create meaningful Hy-flex learning opportunities for students.
Sara Hoeve Ph.D.: Given the current teacher shortage in most stages, education graduates have the advantage when job searching. Almost all of our graduates accept full-time positions in K-12 schools immediately after graduation. Our graduates often find themselves with multiple job offers, especially if they are willing to relocate. Due to this demand, we encourage our graduates to carefully research and ask questions about the school districts as well, to make sure that they find a position that is a good fit for them as well. For our students who graduate in the middle of the school year, we often recommend that they take long-term sub positions in local school districts to gain experience and develop their instructional skills.
Sara Hoeve Ph.D.: Most K-12 salary scales depend on successful teacher evaluations, years of experience and continuing education, such as a Master's Degree in Education or in a specific content area. Teachers can also increase their earnings by accepting additional responsibilities like coaching a sports team, directing a play, proctoring a state test or hosting a student teacher. Although teachers are expected to complete some tasks during the summer, many staff members take on a second job during the months when school is not in session.
Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing
Monica Pozowicz: I believe due to the pandemic, the biggest trends in the job market will be research and development. This includes information technology, medical research, and software development. The pandemic played a pivotal role in mandating virtual meetings, medical office visits, and online shopping. Often these platforms were overloaded, causing periods of system shut downs and the inability for consumer use. Education from kindergarten to college level went online.
These virtual classrooms offered little then face timing with an instructor. Continued development is needed to ensure high quality student interaction with teaching methods used in on ground classrooms.
Monica Pozowicz: Job prospects today during the pandemic and beyond, need to possess an abundance of computer, information technology, and abilities to manage different software platforms. It is possible to run businesses virtually however, employees need an inordinate amount of expertise using computer media. The ideal candidate would be able to navigate social media platforms, virtual meeting platforms, virtual selling, virtual ordering, and be able to troubleshoot system malfunctions and/or failures. Any certificates in information technology would be a plus.
Monica Pozowicz: Today the job market out of college is challenging and far from typical. In the pandemic of today, I believe healthcare workers will be in high demand as well as, computer programmers, information technologists, and forward thinking teachers and professors. The healthcare system and workers has taken a beating during this pandemic, they are tired.
Doctors to housekeeping workers are truly exhausted and I predict early retirements. That leaves gaps to fill. Any degree in the medical field will have opportunities awaiting the graduate with many areas to choose to work in. I have previously expressed how computer programmers and information technology careers will be in high demand.
As we continue to be a nation social distancing, virtual everything is a necessity and we need computer people to keep those platforms up and running smoothly. Forward-thinking teachers and professors are going to be in high demand as well. It is one thing to be able to interact with students on campus but totally different to engage students virtually. Teachers with progressive "outside the box" thinking that can reach students virtually and engage mindful activities will be highly sought out as we continue to hold all levels of education virtually.
University of New Haven
Allied Health, School of HealthWebsite
Michael Urban: Yes we will see an impact on graduates and even those who will be looking to enroll. Students in undergraduate programs at many universities are able to take classes on a pass/fail option where it normally have been a letter grade. This can create issues as some graduate programs require an applicant to have a B or higher grade thus the course for a pre-required class on a pass/fail might exclude them form certain programs who do not or cannot waive the grade requirement for current students due to accreditation standards. Graduates also depending on the work they were studying might have to wait until the new working environment emerges as many companies are noting that they can do business with less people and space. Other jobs though will see a boom such as those in healthcare and IT as the pandemic has created a need for these positions. Healthcare will see various positions increase in demand as people will need to rehabilitate after being impacted by the global pandemic and IT to support the shift to a rapid growth on online business. Students not in those fields can be very creative to see where they can fill gaps and help transform and market a shift in a traditional business also such as we have seen with curbside pick-up for stores and restaurants.
Michael Urban: Current students should seek to take some entry-level computer programing course work, quality improvement courses in lean six sigma and project management, and then I would encourage people to take a basic general law, business and policy course. These will be vital skills to help understand various changes as a leader that occurs with policy, law, and financial management. I would also recommend a general exposure to these topics to make sure the student has an understanding of what they would want to do if they seek to start their business. Other things to look at when picking courses are how can you maximize any educate to qualify or even obtain as part of a class the needed skills for advance credentials such as lean six sigma, healthcare long-term care certifications, environmental science, or coaching and mentoring certifications. These general areas with a return to the Paris climate accord along with companies looking to be leaner at the executive level to reduce overhead will make you fill critical gaps in any organization.
Michael Urban: In the field of occupational therapy, and advance degree at the doctoral level over time with experience in addition to advance certifications in leadership skills such as mentoring, coaching, lean six sigma, project management, policy, and such forth will help to maxing their long-term earning potential. For those who are looking to seek advance certifications in areas such as hand therapy, sensory integration and other areas, look at what is required while in school and seek out additional courses and learning experiences with local clinics to help gain your knowledge and skills to qualify and pass the exams sooner.
College of nursing and health sciencesWebsite
Dr. Antonio Fernandez: The biggest trends we'll see in the job market given the pandemic are already here in continuous growth. From the early stages in the fight to control the expansion of the virus, it was evident that to achieve some success in reducing the number of cases it was indispensable to diminish the risk of exposure of healthy individuals and given the uncertainty of actual contamination among asymptomatic individuals some mandatory measures of isolation, quarantine, and lockdown became inevitable leading to the closure of businesses of all types with the few exceptions of absolutely vital activities. This new order of carrying out working activities led to the quick expansion of distant working mode and the almost universal implementation of online working. Online working led to quick and efficient adoption of models of communication and transmission of data. Working meetings reports presentation and discussions, strategies development, schedules implementation were all completed through Webex, Zoom, or any other of the available online group discussion platforms. Overnight we transitioned from face-to-face, personal interaction, collective meetings in single rooms to remote, distant, virtual rooms where meetings were conducted in all formats and with great variations in the number of participants. Do not doubt that the immediate biggest trend in the job market will be the complete remote, online, virtual communication, and data discussion. This new trend imposed by the pressure of isolation and quarantine is not going anywhere and, in many activities, had unquestionably proven more effective and lower cost than the traditional activities. Do not doubt, all the models that have been efficiently working during these months will be maintained and many others will be tried. Working in isolation from home or very small hubs with a very reduced number of people will replace the traditional, classical office format.
Dr. Antonio Fernandez: To properly implement this new, inevitable working culture which will impact the job market, the employers will start looking for the new type of employee, capable of efficiently working alone, remotely, flexible in the hours, and schedule accommodation since no physical buildings will be necessary thus eliminating the need for the teams sharing a location in a given city or even country. Meeting, conferences, discussions will be held with participants in different geographical and time zones. The capacity to adapt to continuous changes and innovation will be an indispensable skill sought after by employers second only to the most important, the highest valued skill technical knowledge and expertise in the new formats. Computer, digitalization, web navigation, encryption of data and messages.
Dr. Antonio Fernandez: In the field of Higher Education, salaries have evolved slower than other fields like electronics, computer sciences, software development, and lately internet communication platforms. The implementation of remote learning has not positively impacted the salaries in this field.
University of Hawaii Maui College
Allied Health Department
Mary Farmer MSN, RN: Soft skills for nursing assistants would include:
-time management skills
-empathy and compassion for others
-ability to foster positive communication skills
Mary Farmer MSN, RN: Biggest trends coming up are:
"About 174,000 openings for nursing assistants and 5,600 openings for orderlies are projected each year, on average, over the decade." this quote is from this URL: BLS
There will get a great need for nursing assistants now and in the future due to large numbers of people over the age of 65 that will need assistance.
Mary Farmer MSN, RN: This quote comes from the URL listed below
"CNA salaries depend on a few different factors, including location, experience level, and employer. Overall, the BLS data shows that nursing assistants make a mean annual wage of about $28,540. California, Florida, and New York employ the most CNAs, while states like Alaska, New York, and Nevada offer the highest salaries. In addition, the BLS projects the nursing assistant profession to grow by 9% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than average." CNASalaryOutlook
Jackson State University
Health Policy & ManagementWebsite
Dr. Mustafa Younis Ph.D.: Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, we experienced high unemployment and low job growth. However, there is a demand for jobs on high-tech jobs, public health, and in the medical field.
Dr. Mustafa Younis Ph.D.: There is a need for jobs in the medical field and epidemiology field.
Dr. Mustafa Younis Ph.D.: The change in salaries in healthcare administration has been slow in comparison for positions in high tech, accounting, and healthcare finance. This is mostly related to lowers spending by the state and federal government in this area. Most colleges and accreditation agencies did not put emphasis to the requirement to work or teaching in the area of healthcare administration which reduced the pressure on hiring qualified individuals to work or teach in the area of health economics & Finance and healthcare Management.
College of Nursing and Public HealthWebsite
Susan Zori: The coronavirus pandemic will no doubt have a lasting impact on all of us let alone nursing graduates. In the midst of the pandemic there was a spotlight on nurses and the nursing profession. Nurses are advocates, innovators, teachers, and clinical experts. The bravery and perseverance of nurses managing this extraordinary situation will be remembered for a long time to come.
The toll on mental health experienced by nurses needs to be addressed both now and as we continue move through this pandemic. The dedication of so many nurses as they put their health and the health of their families at risk to care for so many stricken with Covid-19 will long be remembered. Many pre-licensure students chose to continue their education during this time and are excited to become a member of this profession. Many of our students worked on the front lines during the pandemic as front line and essential workers. Many students in addition to course work held jobs as unlicensed personnel in healthcare, performed covid tests and administered vaccines all while continuing with their nursing education.
This is a great time to be a nurse, there is a projected shortage of nurses and as many nurses retire there will be an even greater demand for nurses. This combined with the need for nurses in innovative settings such as primary health care, telehealth, home care the field is wide open with many possibilities for graduate nurses.
Susan Zori: As a new graduate RN, passing the NCLEX exam for licensure is essential. Participation in community service, leadership in student organizations, or working in a nurse internship program over summers is certainly a plus. Nurses with a positive attitude who convey a passion for delivering patient centered care will certainly have an advantage when interviewing for that first job.
Susan Zori: Nurses who are clinical experts can achieve recognition through specialty certification. Specialty certification recognizes the nurse as an expert with advanced knowledge in a chosen specialty such as Critical Care Nursing, Oncology Nursing, Cardiology, Pediatrics and many other nursing specialties.
Nursing is a profession based on life-long learning. Beyond basic RN licensure, many nurses while being employed as an RN continue their education with advanced degrees to become leaders in healthcare as nurse practitioners, nurse educators and nurse administrators. Pursuing a spirit of scholarly inquiry, doctoral education, obtaining a PhD or a clinical doctorates as DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) degrees is an important option for graduates to consider. This advanced education opens many possibilities for nurses. In fact, our acting Surgeon General of the United States, Rear Admiral Susan Orsega is a nurse practitioner. So nurses are well poised with their broad knowledge of patient care and public health to be leaders.
Specialty certification and advanced degrees provide opportunities to increase earning potential.