December 19, 2020
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.
San Jose State University
Industrial Systems and Engineering Department
Christine Foster: I believe that the pandemic will continue to drive opportunities for occupational safety work within the greater healthcare market, and more specifically in hospitals and clinics as well as biotech/pharma. I also have seen an increased demand for safety professionals overall, as many aspects of the pandemic have driven home the need for safety in industries that have not typically had a focus in this area. Examples of this include food and beverage, where there have been significant outbreaks during the pandemic, and food service where there is great risk for exposure during eating and drinking activities. Regulatory changes will also continue to increase demand for occupational safety expertise.
Christine Foster: From a skills perspective, I look for strong written and verbal communication skills. This includes making sure that the resume is grammatically solid and free from spelling errors. This is a first impression, and one that may make the difference between getting an interview or not. Specific experience that is important includes risk assessment/analysis, regulatory interpretation, data analysis, and project management. So much of what we do in occupational safety is assessing risk and then translating that into recommendations that are then managed to execution. Today's safety professional needs to be able to do all of these things well.
Christine Foster: For geographic areas that will be best for jobs, I would say the jobs will follow the industry trends I mentioned above. Areas with a concentration of biopharma, including the Bay Area, New Jersey, Boston, North Carolina, and Seattle will likely continue to see high demand for safety professionals.
For those entering the field, consulting firms are a great place to begin a career, with many opportunities for new graduates and an ability to learn the field in a variety of industry applications.
Dr. John Howard: Recent graduates beginning a career in occupational safety and health will find the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the critical role of workplace safety and the health and occupational safety and health practitioners - not just in health care but in industries nationwide. Workers are the backbone of our nation that keep us moving ahead, even in the face of unprecedented threats, such as the one we face today. The importance of taking proactive steps to ensure they have the safety equipment and the training they need to perform work safely and remain healthy is clearer than ever.
IADLEST Member - International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training
Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and TrainingWebsite
Linsay Hale: The most glaring impact of COVID-19 on the job market is lean towards telework and virtual offices. Public safety, corrections included, is not and will not be impacted by this trend since ensuring the safety and security of a courtroom's correctional facility requires an in-person presence.
Linsay Hale: Law enforcement, like most job fields, is continually evolving to reflect technological advancements. I would say, again generally speaking, that transparency and accountability of those employed in police and corrections are at the forefront of the national social and political discussion, as is the safety of the men and women choosing to work in those professions and the safety of community members (whether they be incarcerated or not). As such, I suppose that any tool or technologies developed to further those initiatives will increase in popularity and prevalence.
Linsay Hale: I don't know that a POST agency best answers this question. Our agency (Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training) is responsible for training and certifying public safety officers, to include corrections officers. But we don't hire corrections officers. While we know, through registrations into the Basic Corrections Course, that employed Oregon corrections officers are required to attend, there is always a need for qualified corrections officers. Still, I would suggest posing this question to agencies responsible for hiring those officers. The employment requirements (including what level of education is required) is at their discretion. They would also be best suited to weigh whether or not they see an increase or decrease in demand coming.
NMSU/Dona Ana Community College
Public Services Department, Fire Science Program
Alfred Lujan: Most fire departments require or prefer candidates with a current Emergency Medical Technician-Basic license at a minimum.
Many fire departments require a minimum of a Firefighter I IFSAC or Pro Board certification, and it is a prerequisite Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations certification.
Alfred Lujan: No, most municipalities and counties in the US have fire departments, and personnel is frequently hired due to regular attrition. Pay varies, however, depending on the area.
Alfred Lujan: Technology advancements are prevalent in emergency services, like everywhere else. In the next five years, I envision GPS technology to play a vital role in the dispatch of and location navigation for emergency services units and personnel tracking in the hot zone. Technology will also likely play a role in improving communication and connectivity between emergency response agencies.
Things like biotelemetry, simulation training, advancements in personal protective equipment, and advances in apparatus and equipment technology will continue to evolve in making firefighters more effective and efficient.