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Though it's difficult to predict exactly how the year will pan out, weak job growth, a slowing economy and troubled housing markets all point to signs of an economic recession. The good news for job seekers is that employers are still hiring and certain industries will survive (even thrive) during hard times.
Thirty-two percent of employers plan to add full-time, permanent employees in 2008, according to a CareerBuilder.com survey. Most employers are cautious, but anticipate a slower, yet steady hiring environment.
"Many job seekers make the mistake of attempting a career change during downturns," says John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement consultancy. "This can be a career-crippling move. It is much better to focus on transferring your current occupations skills to industries that remain healthy."
While some industries, including retail, manufacturing, finance and technology, are vulnerable during recessions, Challenger says there are always industries that seem "recession-resistant," based on different trends at the time of the slowdown.
"Do not make the mistake of thinking that only those with industry-specific skills will be in demand. Hospitals not only need nurses and physical therapists, they need administrators and information technology workers," Challenger says. "Firms specializing in information security need accountants and marketing professionals in addition to computer programmers. There should be a wide variety of opportunities in the industries that remain strong through the slowdown."
Are you working in a recession-proof business? Here is a list of industries expected to offer the best opportunities for job seekers during the predicted slump, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Industry No. 1: Education
With more teachers retiring and an increasing number of students enrolling in grades K-12, the demand for skilled teachers is rising. The National Center for Education Statistics predicts that in the next eight years, 2.8 million teachers must join the existing 3.2 million teachers because of retirements, higher enrollment and teacher turnover.
Other thriving jobs in education: Administrators, independent consultants and sales executives to supply text books and other learning materials.
Industry No. 2: Energy
The oil industry faces 80 percent of its work force reaching retirement age in the next decade, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. As a result, jobs related to oil and gas, alternative and renewable energy, and even nuclear energy are likely to see job growth at a steady pace.
Other thriving jobs in energy: Geoscientists, nuclear power reactor operators and engineers.
Industry No. 3: Environmental sector
The environmental industry created 5.3 million jobs in 2005, according to a United Nations report. As concerns about global warming swell, more and more companies are "going green" and will hire engineers and scientists to develop "green" technology. They'll also need guidance for becoming more eco-friendly.
Other thriving jobs in the environmental sector: Environmental consultants, program managers and attorneys.
Industry No. 4: Health care
Nearly half of the 30 fastest growing jobs are in health services, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of these jobs include medical assistants, physical therapists and home health aides.
Employers in California entice nurses with $7,500 signing bonuses for hard-to-fill jobs and $3,500 for traditional positions, according to the California Jobs Journal. They're also providing $3,000 annually for continuing education and relocation reimbursement, as well as time off to pursue professional interests, overtime pay and the option to work 12-hour shifts with four days off per week.
Other thriving jobs in health care: Physician assistants, medical records and health information technicians, and personal and home care aides.
Industry No. 5: Security
There will always be a need for security, whether it's in airports, at US borders or in a company protecting vital information. The Defense and Homeland Security departments need to fill an estimated 83,000 jobs over the next two years, according to a 2007 report by the Partnership for Public Service.
Other thriving jobs in security: Transportation security, information security managers and computer programmers. E-mail to a friend
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