Bright Outlook for Healthcare Careers

by Caitlin Quinn, Junior Achievement of Central Illinois

A slow economy, cutbacks and tough times have unfortunately become far too familiar for many businesses. Some are on hold, reluctant to expand, while others have been forced to close their doors. And yet, one industry that doesn’t seem to have been as affected is healthcare. It has been growing steadily for decades and doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that healthcare will be the fastest growing service-providing industry from 2010 to 2020.

The rising demand for healthcare and a higher life expectancy have created more demand for occupations related to healthcare. Many baby boomers are reaching retirement age, and this aging population has increased medical needs. Americans are also living longer than ever before, with technological advances in patient care and improvements in public health. An increase in awareness in preventive care has also increased overall U.S. life expectancy.

The healthcare industry has proven to be a solid option for career stability, and youth have an opportunity to take advantage of a career in a field with rising demand. Students can learn about increased employment demand and other business issues by having Junior Achievement programs in their classrooms at school. In JA’s “Our Nation” program, which was developed for fifth graders, students learn that high-growth, high-demand jobs are projected to add substantial numbers of employees to the workforce. They also learn that when we know which jobs will have a high demand in the future, we can prepare for career opportunities in those areas.

Through JA programs, students learn about different industries, such as healthcare, and begin to explore the jobs within each industry. Students who are familiar with occupations such as doctor or nurse are introduced to new titles like medical technician, pharmacist, chiropractor, radiological technologist, optometrist or dietitian. They discover new possibilities, as well as the education and skills required for each job. Some who are introduced to a career in healthcare will continue their interest in the medical field. This is important, as 559,000 jobs have been added to the economy since the beginning of the recession in December 2007, and that trend within the healthcare industry is only going to continue.

The healthcare sector offers a great opportunity for young people to major in a field that’s expanding and begin their careers with a strong outlook. Volunteers from many businesses, including OSF HealthCare and Methodist College, teach JA to young people at schools across central Illinois, where they can learn firsthand from industry professionals what a career in healthcare would entail. Using JA programs, we can help to equip students with the right information so they can make informed career choices. iBi

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