Nursing named as top need for jobs in state

TRIADELPHIA – Serkan Catma, senior fellow at West Liberty University’s Institute for Innovation in Education, cited nursing as the top profession in West Virginia in need of qualified graduates during his announcement of the release of the 2013 West Virginia Jobs and Education Report on Monday at WLU’s Highlands Center.

The study compares the anticipated job market with the number of college degrees awarded by post-secondary institutions in the state to determine the professional areas that will have a shortage of qualified graduates to hire. Catma cited nursing, social work and computer sciences as some of the top areas that will be in need of a larger incoming work force in the future.

“When we look at the research that has been done in the past, they focus on employment projections, but nobody really looks at the number of graduates we have,” Catma said. “So we really want to have a true analysis of the labor market needs of the state, and the only way to do that is to know the number of graduates that would fill those positions.”

Other occupational areas with projected need include education administration, human resources and medical-related fields, such as radiologic technology, paramedic sciences, medical laboratory technicians and dental technicians.

“An occupation can be a ‘hot’ job, but if we already have enough graduates then maybe it is better to focus on the other occupations that are not only the fastest growing, but are expected to experience labor shortage,” Catma said. “Higher-education institutions should not only look at the fastest-growing occupations, but look at studies like this that include two sides of the market or the supply and demand and make decisions based on that.”

Catma said this is the second jobs report released from WLU, and it has added data regarding two-year degrees as well as four-year degrees obtained from public, private and community colleges. He said the primary issue in developing the report was the lack of data available on how many students who study in West Virginia stay in the state. Instead, the study assumes the same number of West Virginia residents who attend college both in-state and out-of-state will work in West Virginia after graduation.

The report uses data from the U.S. Department of Labor and Workforce West Virginia on occupations with the largest job growth from 2010 to 2020, and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission provided data on degrees conferred by West Virginia higher education institutions between 2007 and 2012.