Looking at growth industries in 2021

Dr. Hencelyn Chu, right, films a lab lecture on how to operate a blood count analyzer for her MLT students at College of the Canyons. Courtesy of College of the Canyons

As we enter a new year, many are making changes in their lives, including in career goals. 

This year, those goals, like much else, are most likely affected by the pandemic, as many are shifting their priorities.

“There are opportunities that have surfaced because of the impacts of the pandemic,” said Catherine Grooms, director of COC’s Small Business Development Center. “Old-school ideas are becoming current, as people are thinking about doing things in a different way, or have the opportunity to do things in a different way.”

Here in the Santa Clarita Valley, College of the Canyons is assisting its students in doing just that.

Back to the basics

“I would say that one trend is that people are going back to the basics — they’re thinking about what their skills are and how can they be a service to others,” Grooms said. 

With that, there has been a resurgence of service-based activities, whether it was something people did a while ago and shifted from or something the pandemic has made them realize the need for.

“Some just want to be in the position to help others, and I think it’s because people are realizing that there are more people in need,” Grooms added. “The pandemic has changed many people’s perspective … and has helped to strengthen the sense of community.”

The health care sector has evidently seen a dramatic increase in demand. 

“People who may have had an interest in the medical field, but not had a sense of urgency, (now there’s an) increased desire,” Grooms said. 

While health care is most obviously on the rise, there also has been an increased demand for non-medical, caring types of services, where individuals are in need, meaning they don’t have to have a particular license, Grooms added. 

“Everybody does not have access to someone in their family or people around them that may or not be willing to provide those services,” Grooms said, adding that these services even include delivery or rideshare drivers. “People are becoming drivers out of necessity and out of need, (as it) may be one of only sources of income they have available right now.”

Temporary jobs remain in demand

Temporary jobs are in high demand right now, as many job markets continue to rebound from the pandemic shut downs.

These types of jobs include construction, food processing and preparation, manufacturing and production, sanitation, as well as skilled trends workers, according to PeopleReady.

“The reality is that the full-time jobs many people have lost are the slowest to recover. Whereas, following an economic downturn, temporary jobs are added at a faster rate — meaning there are temporary jobs available right now to help job-seekers start the new year off right,” Taryn Owen, president of PeopleReady, said in a prepared statement. “Temporary jobs can provide reliable and necessary income for job seekers while also offering them greater flexibility and freedom.”

This is something Harriet Happel, COC’s dean of career education and integrative services, encourages people not to be discouraged or disheartened about.

“My philosophy is: Find something that you think is going to fit so that you can meet your basic needs because if your basic needs are being met, then that gives you the freedom to explore other opportunities,” Happel said.

A significant increase in technology-based needs

With many services transitioning online rather than in person, there’s an increased need for accessibility. 

“Segments of the population may have been resistant (to going online), but it has become a lifeline, and I don’t know that that’s going to disappear,” Grooms said. “There’s new opportunities to embrace (technology), which is beneficial for everybody.”

In addition, the pandemic has allowed people to do an assessment of their skills, with the opportunity to gain access to the knowledge for free or at a lower cost online.

There’s also an ongoing demand for content creation, as people are consuming content more and more.

With so many platforms available, there’s a lower cost of entry into the market, allowing people to develop and produce content independently, Grooms said.

‘The perfect storm’ in shifting careers and skills

“In this whole realm of careers, we’re in a perfect storm,” Happel said, explaining that Industry 4.0, or the current trend of automation, has been transitioning to 5.0 over the last year across all careers, as machines have continued to take over jobs that humans have done.

“There’s a lot of myths about automation, because most people perceive that automation … is going to take jobs away from people, and that’s really not the case,” Happel added. “It’s not that we’re going to reduce the amount of jobs that will be available, it’s that we’re going to have a revolution of what jobs are going to look like for people.” 

Happel believes this transition will allow people to do the jobs they were meant to do, rather than those that cause suffering, such as back pain, carpal tunnel, etc.

Instead, they’ll do jobs using the four Cs: Communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. 

“Because the reality of it is a machine cannot critically think, a machine cannot be creative — those are unique skills that only humans can do,” Happel said. 

That being said, the focus has shifted from specific career training to skill training. 

“What we’re finding is that with how rapidly automation is really changing the nature of the workplace, there are basic skills that the employer is looking for,” Happel said. “Employers have gone from really looking at disciplines to looking at a skill-based orientation. … They want evidence of a skill set.”

These are skills that go across all disciplines, including project management, scheduling, logistics management and accounting, for example.

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