These ‘high demand’ fields of study are expected to play a major role in NEO’s economic future — offering tremendous potential for students.
Navigating your future is never an easy task. With so many options in today’s progressively global economy, how do college-bound students decide what major and career path to pursue? As the U.S. continues to recover from the latest economic downturn, students and parents alike want to know what fields of study will provide the most opportunities in the coming years.
As Northeast Ohio has made significant strides in diversifying its economy, job opportunities across a number of diverse disciplines have emerged — giving students a wide selection of majors to choose from that will also provide a base for long-term success.
With a $140 billion economy and an expansive higher education system, Northeast Ohio offers innumerable opportunities for tomorrow’s graduates. Even leading career site Monster.com agrees. The job-matching powerhouse released a report in early 2011 revealing the top markets for job seekers, and Northeast Ohio came in near the top of the list. Based on the relative abundance of open positions, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio made the number seven slot, signaling that there are, indeed, numerous opportunities available throughout the region. Monster.com’s report also showed that the hottest jobs in these markets fell largely in the healthcare and information technology industries — industries in which Northeast Ohio excels.
While many factors come into play when choosing a course of study, students should consider how their major of choice will lead them down a successful career path. As Northeast Ohio grows in areas such as healthcare, IT, advanced energy, manufacturing and flexible electronics, students should consider pursuing a degree in these high-demand fields, which are expected to play a major role in Northeast Ohio’s economic future.
One of the fastest growing industries in Northeast Ohio is the healthcare sector. Employing more than 480,000 workers throughout the region, the healthcare and biomedical field is likely to play an even larger role in the region’s ongoing success. With more than 600 medical-related organizations located in Northeast Ohio, the healthcare industry offers tremendous potential for students.
Supported by a number of world-renowned organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and the Summa Health System, as well as a vast array of higher education institutions, Northeast Ohio has emerged as a global leader in the biomedical field. Given the healthcare sector’s breadth and depth across the region, there are numerous avenues students can pursue to start a career in the healthcare industry.
For those considering a career in medicine, Northeast Ohio boasts establishments that are leading the medical world in innovation and pioneering techniques. In fact, Northeast Ohio is home to some 9,000 physicians. With such a large number of nationally recognized health systems residing in our 16-county footprint, the need for world-class physicians will continue to grow in the decades to come.
For those thinking of going into the medical field, Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine is consistently ranked as one of the top medical schools in the nation and is graduating physicians that could one day unearth the next medical breakthrough. Our region is also fortunate to be home to another medical school, the Northeast Ohio Colleges University of Medicine and Pharmacy, one of the largest B.S./M.D. programs in the country.
While everyone may not dream of becoming a physician, there are still a number of ways to pursue a career in Northeast Ohio’s healthcare sector. Disciplines such as polymer engineering and biomaterials are revolutionizing the biomedical field by bringing medical innovations to fruition. Akron, a hub for polymer research and innovation, is a leading example of the opportunities available. With a successful track record of growing biomedical companies, Northeast Ohio is leveraging its polymer expertise and building a robust workforce. The University of Akron’s College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering offers courses of study in biomaterials and bio systems, giving students the foundation they need to start a career at one of the many biomedical companies being formed throughout the region.
Another major growth area in Northeast Ohio’s healthcare industry is medical manufacturing. Given the high concentration of hospitals and medical-related organizations in the region, the bioscience sector is projected to grow at 12 percent a year. Those looking to combine their interests in healthcare and manufacturing can pursue opportunities related to medical device manufacturing and pharmaceutical drug manufacturing.
While the healthcare industry is growing rapidly, so too is Northeast Ohio’s advanced energy sector. Over the last several years, the term “go green” has made its way into our everyday lives and introduced new opportunities for students. How is Northeast Ohio “going green,” and what does that mean for students preparing to enter the workforce? For Northeast Ohio, the green movement has led to the development of a growing cleantech industry. Cleantech refers to new forms of energy creation such as wind energy, solar panels and fuel cells. Traditional industries such as steel, rubber, coatings and electronic controls serve as the basis for the cleantech sector and are projected to grow by 20 percent over the next five years.
Students with an interest in the green movement should consider pursuing a degree in the cleantech field, which shows signs of significant growth in the coming years. In fact, Ohio boasts the sixth highest concentration of clean energy companies in the nation with 2,513 businesses located in the state. Additionally, Ohio employs 35,267 workers in an advanced energy industry, making Ohio fourth in the nation in the number of clean energy jobs.
As Northeast Ohio builds its advanced energy cluster, cleantech-related jobs will continue to grow in demand, and it’s likely that degrees related to fuel cell manufacturing and wind energy development will become more popular. Knowing this, many colleges and universities across the region have already instituted advanced energy-related programs. For example, Stark State Community College developed its Fuel Cell Prototyping Center, while Lorain County Community College launched a new major focused entirely on wind turbine development.
As Northeast Ohio establishes itself as a healthcare and advanced energy hub, it remains dependent on its manufacturing heritage — another high-growth sector in Northeast Ohio. Wrongly perceived as a “dying” industry, manufacturing actually represents a field with tremendous opportunity. In fact, Northeast Ohio added 4,900 manufacturing jobs in 2010 alone. As manufacturing helped bring Northeast Ohio to economic greatness in the 20th century, it’s also enabling the region to compete in the global economy of the new millennium. While many hold a stereotypical view of manufacturing, it remains the base for growth as Northeast Ohio expands into new, emerging fields like the biomedical and advanced energy sectors. Advanced degrees in medical device manufacturing, fuel cell development, wind energy and aerospace all involve manufacturing.
Flexible electronics, a new science and manufacturing sector to emerge in Northeast Ohio, also involves manufacturing at its core. While still new, flexible electronics refers to devices such as electronic writing tablets, switchable eyewear, printed batteries and medical implants. Experts predict the global flexible electronics market to grow to $250 billion by 2025. Rooted in the invention of liquid crystal technology, which was pioneered at Kent State University, flexible electronics is on track to become a major industry and represents an exciting career path to pursue.
Together, these growing industries represent the vibrant future of Northeast Ohio’s economy, with each of these sectors lending themselves to a variety of career paths and options.
While planning for your future can seem daunting, young adults getting ready for college and their careers should feel relieved knowing they have an array of options — and have a better understanding now of what it takes to prepare for Northeast Ohio’s growing economy.
Northeast Ohio is not only growing and strengthening its economy, it’s diversifying it as well. In doing this, a number of divergent sectors have emerged, creating “high demand” fields of study. Over the next decade and beyond, these areas will represent some of the hottest fields for finding a job — right here at home.
/ Writer Alicia Blessing is a Northeast Ohio native and marketing professional working to promote our great region at the Cleveland Plus Marketing Alliance.