In his weekly radio address on Jan. 10, 2009, Barack Obama said the No. 1 goal of his economic stimulus plan is to create 3 million new jobs in the next two years. Less than 20 percent of them will be government jobs.
What exactly, then, will these jobs be?
Career Web site Jobfox has analyzed Obama's plan and come up with five areas of likely job growth over the next two years, with 22 specific job titles among them. Engineering, accounting, nursing and information technology will all fare particularly well, Jobfox predicts.
One initiative Obama has discussed repeatedly is the "rebuilding of our crumbling roads, bridges and schools." Likely positions that will come out of that effort include construction manager, project manager, civil engineer, computer-aided drafting specialist and telecommunications engineer, says Rob McGovern, Jobfox's chief executive and founder and former CEO of CareerBuilder.
"They're going to have to outsource the management and design of those projects," McGovern says. "There are going to be companies that pop up just to handle all that work."
Modernization of the health care system will be another major initiative, with a primary focus on getting paper medical records into centralized electronic files. That's a high priority, because it promises to do much to improve health care in terms of both cost and delivery, says Phil Miller, spokesman for the health care staffing firm AMN Healthcare and an author of "Will the Last Physician in America Please Turn Off the Lights?"
Far too many medical errors occur when patients get transferred from one doctor to another, because it's easy for important patient information to get left off a medical history. That shouldn't happen. Also, collected online patient data can be analyzed to figure out what courses of treatment work best.
The Bush administration tried to facilitate this effort but didn't put enough money into it, Miller says. It's an expensive undertaking; he estimates that an average physician's office will have to spend $30,000 to $50,000 to learn about the process, get the necessary technology and hire staffers to execute the transition. Obama will reportedly commit $20 billion to the initiative, and doctors will be able to get funding through grants. The jobs likely to be in demand in this area include information technology specialist, information security specialist and software developer.
Another focus: the financial markets. The subprime mortgage crisis revealed the excessive risks many companies had been taking for years. Obama is calling for greater oversight of the markets, and with that comes a need for compliance accountants, internal auditors, tax accountants and government regulators — jobs for many people laid off from Wall Street, perhaps.
He promises to spend a lot of money on energy too. "To put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will double renewable-energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient," he said in the Jan. 10 radio address. That means greater demand for electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, power grid managers, biofuels chemists and the sales and marketing people who will sell the new technology.
Now is the time for all job seekers to think strategically, McGovern says. If you're a car salesman, your business is probably pretty slow right now. How about taking those sales skills and going over to a company that sells construction equipment, like Caterpillar?
After all, it will take a lot of bulldozers and backhoes to rebuild the nation's highways and byways.