Report: Demand for nurses, lab techs will rise in Washington State

Washington is going to need more bookkeepers, nurses, lab technicians, and aircraft mechanics in the coming years, according to a new Skill Gap Analysis from the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (Workforce Board). The report compares future demand for occupations with how many workers are currently being prepared in Washington through public and private colleges and apprenticeship programs. This information provides insight as to which occupational fields should be recruiting new students and increasing educational capacity.

The Workforce Board’s research focuses on jobs that require at least one year of post-high school education and training but do not require a bachelor’s degree-an essential but sometimes overlooked slice of the job market referred to as mid-level jobs. These jobs typically pay well and often come with benefits, offering Washington residents the chance to earn a living wage.

Topping the list of occupations facing shortages are categories such as accounting and bookkeeping, health care, and installation, maintenance and repair of equipment. These are the fields where job openings will most likely outpace the supply of newly prepared workers as the economy recovers. The largest potential undersupply will be in bookkeepers, accounting assistants and other accounting professionals with a projected average annual gap of 1,350 between 2012 and 2017.

In general, demand for mid-level workers is not expected to recover to pre-recession levels until 2013, when projected demand for new mid-level workers will be 8 percent above current output.

Some occupations, such as nursing, are in short supply of trained applicants even in this recession. Nurses will continue to be in high demand even though Washington currently produces over 3,000 new nurses per year. If Washington’s community colleges and private schools continue to produce the same number of nurses they do now, the Workforce Board projects an average supply/demand gap of over 1,000 per year between 2012 and 2017.

The skill gap analysis has been useful in helping recruit students and expand programs when needed. For instance, in the late 1990s, the Workforce Board identified that Washington suffered from an acute shortage of Information Technology professionals. In response, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges directed funding from the Legislature to boost the number and capacity of IT programs.

“While no one has a perfect crystal ball, our analysis at least gives us some tools to anticipate where the shortages might occur before they represent a serious drag on our economy. Washingtons employers not only require a skilled workforce but a workforce with enough of the right skills, said Mike Hudson, a project manager with the Association of Washington Business and member of the Workforce Board.

Learn more about the Workforce Board’s Skill Gap Analysis at .