Human Services: Experts Weight In On Current Job Market Trends

By: Zippia, The Career Expert

Retrieved From: https://www.zippia.com/human-service-specialist-jobs/trends/

ADAM GREER, Career Services Specialist, Auburn University, Department of Human Development and Family Science

In your opinion, what are the biggest trends we’ll see in the job market given the pandemic?

Adam Greer: I think the biggest trend we will see are more people working from home/distance. Our HDFS students have quickly learned how to work from home and be as efficient, if not more efficient, than before the pandemic started.

What skills stand out on resumes?

Adam Greer: Clearly, the distance/online working skills will stand out with our HDFS majors. Our students have a strong foundation in learning to work with people, and now they have a new way to work with people and remove barriers that might have previously prevented an in-person meeting.

Are there any particularly good places in the United States for graduates to find work opportunities in this field after they graduate?

Adam Greer: Our graduates are finding jobs largely in the government/ non-profit/ social service industries.

JOYCE SERIDO PH.D., Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, University of Minnesota, Department of Family Social Science

In your opinion, what are the biggest trends we’ll see in the job market given the pandemic?

Joyce Serido Ph.D.: The pandemic’s economic disruption and the continuing uncertainty are likely to result in employers proceeding with caution, looking for ways to keep overhead as low as possible.

– Regarding where people work: More employers will seek out more flexible and hybrid strategies: Combining remote work and strategic use of in-person working groups
– Employers will be exploring alternative working agreements, limiting the number of full-time positions, expanding the use of contract services, contingent hiring, particularly for specific skills (e.g., technology, social media)
– Candidates who can adapt to changing demands, and have a more diverse skill-set, will be in greater demand

If a graduate needs to take a gap year, what skills would you recommend they try to enhance and how should they go about doing it?

Joyce Serido Ph.D.: If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is the need to be resilient in the face of uncertainty – so seek out opportunities for creative problem solving, be willing to contribute as part of a team. Use this as an apprenticeship period, learn from experienced leaders in areas that interest you, and ask for advice and insight. And stay open to opportunities that emerge. In other words, explore options as you prepare for the next step, be that particular industry or further education. Perhaps the goal for this year is not to have “the answer” – but rather “the next step.”

What general advice would you give to a graduate beginning their career?

Joyce Serido Ph.D.: Focus on broadening your professional network. Be willing to take on interim /short-term opportunities to get to know people – and to discover how you can contribute to a field, not just a company.

JACQUELYN BENSON PH.D., Associate Professor, State Specialist for HES Extension

University of Missouri, Department of Human Development and Family Science

In your opinion, what are the biggest trends we’ll see in the job market given the pandemic?

Jacquelyn Benson Ph.D.: This is all conjecture, of course, as career projections aren’t my area of expertise; however, speaking about the field of gerontology only, I would imagine career interest and opportunities in healthcare in geriatrics will increase. I also expect to see more gerontology experts hired into companies that want to find ways to serve their older customers better. This trend was already occurring concerning the Baby Boomer cohort. Still, I expect it will continue and that we’ll see growing interest in finding ways to serve frail, older adults better.

What technology do you think will become more important and prevalent in the field in the next 3-5 years?

Jacquelyn Benson Ph.D.: Monitoring systems and televising was already becoming popular. Still, I suspect consumers will be more comfortable using them, now that many families had to start using them during the pandemic, to keep in contact with older family members or to consult with various healthcare practitioners.

Will there be an increase or decrease in demand for graduates in this field in the next 5 years?

Jacquelyn Benson Ph.D.: The demand for gerontology graduates has been on the rise, and I expect demand will continue in the next five years for the reasons cited above.

DR. RIKKI GILMORE-BYRD, Vice President of Professional Development and Education

National Organization for Human Services

What general advice would you give to a graduate beginning their career?

Dr. Rikki Gilmore-Byrd: The world, and specifically the country, has been in a state of uncertainty for the past year. Crises will always be a part of our lives, and the management of the crisis can often be challenging for individuals to navigate themselves. Human Services is an umbrella term that is focused on helping and supporting humans. One of the most important attributes of those that work in the field of Human Services is empathy.

It is impossible for a computer, even those that are built with artificial intelligence, to accurately support clients with empathy. Therefore, people will always be required to provide that support. Social and human service assistants provide client services in a variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. This is a field that will continue to grow and emerge to support people in our communities. People are becoming more and more culturally diverse, which provides a need for more human services practitioners that are culturally diverse to support diverse clients. All types of new job opportunities are likely to emerge in the future.

DR. THERESE MADDEN, Professor/Director

Notre Dame de Namur University, Professional Studies Programs

What experience really stands out on resumes?

Dr. Therese Madden: Accomplishments stand out on resumes. Not just classes are taken or previous jobs held, but a listing of what a student has accomplished. For this reason, I love to see resumes that are backed by e-portfolios. These give students a chance to elaborate on their resumes; explain, for example, that their capstone class was more than another grade, but that it encompassed a detailed project plan that they carefully executed so that it matched the needs of the organization that they were working with and that it included measurable outcomes. That way, it is more than another grade, however excellent, more than volunteer hours, but a list of measurable outcomes that can be reflected on a resume and in more narrative descriptions of what someone brings to the job.

How do you envision technology impacting this field in the next 5 years?

Dr. Therese Madden: Technology will have a serious impact on human services, allowing both providers and clients to have more control, better ways of communicating, better ways of individualized services to help each other grow and serve. I think we have seen it already during the pandemic, with tech providing the support to reach out when being physically in proximity to one another is inadvisable. Once the pandemic is over, combining what we’ve learned through tech solutions with more traditional hands-on approaches will allow us to serve clients in better and more personal ways.

Will there be an enduring impact of the coronavirus pandemic on graduates?

Dr. Therese Madden: I think that every industry will see enduring changes, some good and some challenging. I think that the enduring legacy of this pandemic – once we are past the sadness and uncertainty – will be a celebration of innovation and a commitment to build on the new ways of working in ways that help others. Helping others is the essence of the human services profession, and finding new ways of doing so suggests an exciting future that will draw more interest in the field.

STEPHANIE BUDHAI PH.D., Associate Professor, Education

Neumann University, Division of Education and Human Services

What type of skills will young graduates need when they enter the workforce in the coming years?

Stephanie Budhai Ph.D.: In addition to having a firm grasp of content knowledge, young graduates will need to have mastered several soft skills, including working collaboratively with related services personnel (OTs, PTs, Social Workers, Counselors, ABA Therapist, etc.), while also being autonomous and able to complete work associated tasks independently. With the push to remote teaching and learning and the increase in online education, there will not be an administrator’s traditional presence watching the classrooms.

However, it is still an expectation to connect with colleagues within professional learning communities to ensure that each students’ IEP goals are being met. Young graduates need to effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas and actively listen to others for understanding. Finally, young graduates need to be flexible and willing to adapt to the environment and uncontrollable factors continually.

Are there any particularly good places in the United States for graduates to find work opportunities in this field after they graduate?

Stephanie Budhai Ph.D.: There are so many opportunities, all across the country, for a career in special education. In addition to being a special education teacher in a school setting, hospitals, social service agencies, and public service agencies all need trained professionals to support and help develop those with disabilities and learning challenges. Business and government agencies may hire trained special educators as they may have employees who may identify as neurodiverse. There are also employment options working with adjudicated youth and the prison system as an outstanding educator and intervention specialist.

How do you envision technology impacting this field in the next 5 years?

Stephanie Budhai Ph.D.: Technology will impact the field of special education tremendously within the next five years. Assistive technology, which has always been a core resource within the area, will continue to advance all learners’ opportunities to access the general education curriculum and be included in education settings. Artificial intelligence and augmented reality will have an impact on how students learn and experience content. Technology will also afford more opportunities for one-on-one and small group training using video conferencing and deeper connections with families. It will help bridge the gap between learning at school and home.

DONALD SPEARS, National Organization for Human Services Board Secretary, Professor of Human Services

National Organization for Human Services

What general advice would you give to a graduate beginning their career?

Donald Spears: The human services field is vital to society and is growing tremendously. Human service professionals will likely be presented with new challenges as the Baby Boomers continue to age, live longer, and remain active later than previous generations. Other pressing issues include the continuing national opioid epidemic, helping people with autism meet their potential, and supporting families as loved ones are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. There are other large-scale issues that are just as crucial, such as health care access and affordability, poverty, and social justice. Many people think of human services as being primarily face-to-face work with a client, which is often the case, but human service professionals also work on state and national levels, which is essential to creating a more fair and just society.

What type of skills will young graduates need when they enter the workforce in the coming years?

Donald Spears: Human service professionals will be in demand in nearly all settings. Large cities, of course, will need services, but so will individuals in more rural communities. Future human service professionals will need to be adaptable, and able to work with an increasingly diverse population. Being bi-lingual (English and Spanish) will be a tremendous advantage. Even if students plan to work as generalists, coursework and mentorship in working with substance use disorders will be very helpful. Although one may not plan on specializing in addictions, it will be a contributing factor in multiple client scenarios. Helping a client to find housing and employment will not provide a long-lasting solution if there are underlying addiction issues. Earning a certificate in addictions, along with your degree(s), will make you more in demand and more effective in working with clients.

Are there any particularly good places in the United States for graduates to find work opportunities in this field after they graduate?

Donald Spears: Human service professionals are now starting to be embedded with police in order to help provide non-violent de-escalation of conflict, services to the mentally ill or developmentally disabled, people with dementia, and those with addictions. This allows for fewer arrests, less violent interactions with law enforcement personnel, and the treatment of non-violent citizens within the community, rather than in jail or prison.

DR. LYNANN “ANNIE” BUTLER, Chair and Professor

Metropolitan State University of Denver, Department of Human Services & Counseling

What experience really stands out on resumes?

Dr. Lynann “Annie” Butler: In my experience, employers like to see real-world experience on a resume (not just book-learning). I’ve had some students who earned jobs at highly competitive sites over people with more experience because they worked at the site as an intern, and when the time came to interview for a job opening, the hiring personnel at the agency was already familiar with the student’s work ethic.

If a graduate needs to take a gap year, what skills would you recommend they try to enhance and how should they go about doing it?

Dr. Lynann “Annie” Butler: Gap years are good opportunities to get a job in the field of interest. Having some professional experience helps people decide in what field, exactly, they want to earn a master’s degree, or can help students to save money and focus their energies if returning to complete their bachelor’s degree.

What technology do you think will become more important and prevalent in the field in the next 3-5 years?

Dr. Lynann “Annie” Butler: Finally, it seems that skills in all things telehealth will be invaluable for students moving forward.

DR. JOSEPH CONSTANTINE PH.D., Assistant Professor

California University of Pennsylvania, Department of Health & Human Service Professions

What type of skills will young graduates need when they enter the workforce in the coming years?

Dr. Joseph Constantine Ph.D.: While adaptability has always been heralded as the key predictor of employment success in the future, rapid changes in the social and economic landscape also bring with them an increased need for more traditional skills such as building relationships, understanding specific community needs, networking with other professionals, and advocating for more intensive treatment protocols.

Are there any particularly good places in the United States for graduates to find work opportunities in this field after they graduate?

Dr. Joseph Constantine Ph.D.: Florida, California, and New Mexico will continue to be hot markets for speech-language pathologists. The Midwest U.S. is also expected to see an increased demand for licensed and certified professionals.

How do you envision technology impacting this field in the next 5 years?

Dr. Joseph Constantine Ph.D.: More than ever, graduates will need to be able to balance the technological components of work with a high-level of emotional intelligence in order to swiftly make smart decisions that support better outcomes for clients/patients, families, and other stakeholders. Moreover, the most successful therapists will find ways of using high-level, new technologies with good, old-fashioned introspection, self-awareness, and down-to-earth perspectives about what is most important in the job.

By Rachel Amezcua
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