Survey results indicate upcoming safety professional shortage

Washington – Demand for occupational safety and health services will soon exceed the supply of trained and experienced professionals, according to results from a new NIOSH survey.

The national survey (.pdf file), commissioned by NIOSH in 2008 and performed by an independent firm, found that employers plan to hire at least 25,000 safety and health professionals over the next five years, but less than 13,000 new graduates are expected from academic programs. In addition, NIOSH said many of the projected vacancies likely will be filled by current employees or workers without occupational safety and health training.

The need for more trained professionals is especially great given the pending retirement of older safety professionals and new technologies that require specialized skills and knowledge, NIOSH Director John Howard said in an agency press release.

Other survey results include:

  • Degree programs in occupational safety and health have experienced declines in university funding, especially those not funded through NIOSH.
  • Employers want new graduates to have training in leadership and communication.

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