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Top 10 sectors for new jobs

February 8, 2011 |  9:00 am

Surfing
Employers aren't adding jobs, schools are cutting jobs, and China's economy might soon surpass ours. But don't worry, America. This is our Sputnik moment, as President Obama said in his State of the Union address. And somehow we shall overcome.

But how, exactly? Well, by educating and training people to do the jobs that we'll need in the future, according to Obama. And researchers from UC San Diego think they know what those jobs are. In a new book, "Closing America's Job Gap," Mary Walshok, Tapan Munroe and Henry DeVries list the top 10 innovative sectors where the jobs might be.

They include the obvious -- geriatric healthcare and green jobs -- and some of the not-so-obvious.

"The future is bright if job seekers can figure out how to align continuing education with America's areas of successful innovation," Walshok said. "The array of job opportunities is dazzling for workers who are willing to be retrained."

Want to know where she thinks those dazzling opportunities are? Check out the list below. 

Embedded engineering. As that creepy Xoom Super Bowl commercial showed, soon everyone will have iPods -- or devices that look like them -- and also wear white hoodies that they miraculously keep clean. But how will they play games on those devices while they're walking to their dull trains? Through processors that you design if you're a software engineer doing embedded engineering.

Mobile media. For those of you who skipped over the first entry, shame on you. It had some very important information about how cellphones are taking over the world. And because they are, there will be lots of jobs for people who design games, videos and apps for these phones and other mobile devices.

Occupational health and safety. Apparently, we have been made too dumb by our mobile devices to realize we are slumping over our computer screens and getting RSI from playing too much Angry Birds. Occupational health and safety experts will help us be safer and healthier at work, and also enforce the laws that try to make us safer and healthier.

English translation and foreign languages. Swahili is taking over the world! OK, not really. But researchers say language and translation skills are going to be very important in the coming decade. Those who speak both English and Spanish will be especially well off. Although a little familiarity with Swahili can't hurt.

Renewable energy and green jobs. You're probably sick of hearing about green jobs. But like it or not, we're going to be green as Kermit in a few decades.  Electric vehicle development, wind design, environmental consultation should all be rich fields in the upcoming years. 

English as a foreign language. Swahili may be taking over the world, but the world still wants to learn English. And who better to teach them than you, native English speaker? Researchers say that half of the world's population will speak English by 2015.

Action sports innovators. Did you just say "Wha?" I did too. But according to the researchers, the surf-skate industry is growing like mad. Apparently, the world is learning English, building wind farms and learning to hang ten. Blame Tony Hawk.

Independent consulting. Why work for a big company that gives you health benefits, vacation time and retirement benefits when you can work for yourself? Researchers say that because there aren't that many jobs available now, workers might as well set up shop for themselves. There are jobs for everyone in independent consulting, from "fine cabinet making" to "catering," they say.

Geriatric healthcare. Sorry, baby boomers. You're getting old. And all that aerobic dancing and pot smoking you did in your youth is going to catch up with you, but your guilt-ridden children won't be able to pull the plug. So. Someone's going to need to take care of you. And that's going to mean a lot of jobs -- for people who have the patience to take care of aging boomers.

Welding, pipe fitting and mechanics. Someone's got to weld all those solar panels together. Or fix the electric car someone else built. As the "new economy" picks up, workers will be needed to repurpose America's economy. Or else they'll be needed to weld the broken country back together.

-- Alana Semuels

Photo: Jobs in the surfing industry should be plentiful in upcoming years, the book says. Credit: MikeBaird via Flickr

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