This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

July 2, 2003

Schools Will Respond to Employment Demands

Intensifying shortages of skilled workers will stimulate employers to demand increased vocational training. The impact will be seen first in the occupations with the greatest need. An example that will come as no surprise is the shortage of nurses practicing in healthcare environments. The need is acute, inspiring traditional students and older workers shifting careers. A major problem is a shortage of seats in nursing schools.

As administrators and hospitals work to quickly train students to ease the shortage, enrollment in many nursing schools is up. The field of nursing is growing in popularity among older workers in mid-career who are looking for job security and an opportunity to make a difference. Enrollment in entry- level nursing programs was up 8% in 2002, and hospital and school administrators are developing accelerated nurse-training programs to help students complete coursework in half the time customarily required.

Currently, there are 105 "fast-track" programs in the U.S. and another 53 being developed. Prospective nurses are plentiful and hospitals are eager to hire graduates. Hospital recruiters are hard at work, offering scholarships to students who agree to work for them after graduation. Schools teaching healthcare topics, like the University of Maryland, report that enrollment in their nursing programs is up; applications to the school's accelerated program for this fall are nearly quadruple the number from a year ago, and enrollment for bachelor's degrees in nursing increased 16% last year.

This phenomenon will be replicated in schools throughout the United States and in other countries as well, for other skilled occupations currently experiencing shortages. Other healthcare fields, like pharmacy and radiology, will see increasing enrollment in colleges, universities, and other educational institutions. More high schools will partner with hospitals, following the example of programs in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Non-healthcare occupations, such as automobile collision technicians and kitchen designers, will experience similar growth, increasing enrollment in academic and vocational education and training programs. Community colleges will be assigned a stronger role, in spite of the current trend of their budgets being cut by cost-conscious state governments.

Education and training are essential for a competent workforce.

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