So, school has started and you’re already beginning classes. Were you smart about your major?

You were if you chose science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Those areas, also known as STEM careers, are among the few in which one is virtually assured to find steady employment over the next decade. This is according to a new report released by The Conference Board, which focuses on projected labour shortages that will create “unprecedented challenges for business leaders and policymakers over the next fifteen years and beyond.”

But what’s bad news for those guys is potentially good news for people toiling away in math and science labs all over North America: you’ll have jobs.

The report focuses on the U.S. but notes that the picture in Canada will be “broadly comparable” to the U.S.

Specifically: “The Future Occupational Labor Shortage Index introduced in the report identifies the industries most likely to face a scarcity of qualified talent over the next decade. The interaction of two factors—the speed of employment growth and the net number of new job-market entrants (or departures) —determines the level of risk for any particular occupation.”

Let’s take a look at the highlighted areas :

Health-related occupations: As the population ages demand for care will increase. At the same time the working age population is declining. Also, these positions require high levels of education and training, meaning there will be fewer takers than for other jobs. The result? A big lack of healthcare workers. The Conference Board lists occupational therapy assistants, physical therapists and therapist assistants, nurse practitioners and midwives, and dental hygienists among the posts that will need filling. The specialists we will miss most are reported to be optometrists and podiatrists, followed by general physicians and surgeons.

Skilled labour occupations: Skilled trades that require non-university post-secondary education, including water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators, crane and tower operators, transportation inspectors, and construction and building inspectors will face labour shortages, says the press release. The problem is a deficit of young people entering these jobs.

STEM occupations: There has long been hand wringing over potential talent shortages in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but so far there are actually no signs of a scarcity of workers in many of these fields. This is because a higher than average proportion of younger workers and new immigrants are moving in and making up for the retiring baby boomers, according to the report. STEM sectors that will reportedly face a shortage include mathematical science, information security, and civil, environmental, biomedical, and agricultural engineering.

While this information is valuable, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. The economy and the work world will continue to change and we can’t really predict the future.

In order to create a powerful and sustainable career path, it is becoming essential to have cross-disciplinary skills: communications + technical wizardry, skilled trades + business acumen, healthcare + management.

This kind of multi-faceted skillset is going to be the key to future success. The best paid and most secure jobs will go to people with solid analytic and interactive abilities, who are able to continually learn new skills in order to adapt along with the evolving needs of the market.

For more information go to the Conference Board website.

See also:

The 10 hardest jobs for Canadian employers to fill in 2014