Infographics Professional development

Job Outlook 2015

Survey results indicate good market for safety pros

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Wanted: skills

NIOSH identified two research priorities as part of its 2011 project.

The first objective was to weigh the current supply with the future demand for safety professionals. The second mission focused on which skill sets would be needed going forward.

Westat Associate Director M. Timothy McAdams was the project director for the 2011 report.

“We were asking the providers what kinds of skills were they including in their training, and what did they see for the future,” McAdams said. “We asked employers the same thing: Are the people that come to them adequately trained? What are they expecting them to be trained in? What kinds of things do they see for the future?”

McAdams and his team found that most employers were satisfied with workers’ training levels in so-called “hard skills” that applied to specific on-the-job tasks.

However, the report’s executive summary noted that survey data showed “a desire for new hires to have training in additional areas, primarily relating to leadership and various forms of communication, and to have training in one or more of the other disciplines of interest to this study.”

At the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, nearly one dozen desired “student outcomes” are listed for program graduates who enter the workforce with a bachelor’s degree.

In addition to knowing how to design systems, processes and programs, students are expected to possess soft skills such as being able to communicate effectively; function on multidisciplinary teams; and understand the professional and ethical responsibilities that come with their positions.

Taveira said communication skills could extend into learning a second language. For example, he said, students with a minor in Spanish stand out to employers in construction and other industries.

Meanwhile, the outlook brightens even further for those willing to pack their bags.

“Some flexibility helps,” Taveira said. “Most of our undergrad students are from our area, and sometimes willing to move around a little bit increases their chances. Wisconsin is great, but you can go around and find your first job and then come back.”

Next page: Respondent comments on the market and needed skills >>

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