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Originally published October 27, 2006 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 27, 2006 at 9:57 AM

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Jobs outlook: The Challenger & Gray report

Globalization, an aging workforce and technology will be the driving forces shaping the workplace and job market for the approximately 1...

Globalization, an aging workforce and technology will be the driving forces shaping the workplace and job market for the approximately 1.8 million high-school graduates who have entered college this fall.

"Today's college freshmen should not be lulled into thinking that an exodus of baby boomers from the workforce will make it easier to find a job upon graduation," says John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

"The competition will only increase as globalization and technology make it possible for companies to hire people anywhere in the world. It is critical that individuals leave college with the skills that will be in demand four years from now," he added.

According to Challenger, the two requirements that employers will always want candidates to possess are real-world experience and a solid foundation of communication, technology and analytical skills. Skills that are increasingly in demand and are rapidly becoming required are math, science and at least one foreign language.

"Picking the right major can be a ticket to long-term success. For those who select majors that are less focused, such as liberal arts, it is crucial that they supplement their studies with a wide range of practical course work that will provide the skills that are coveted in all industries and occupations," said Challenger.

Challenger offered the following list of majors and course work that will help today's freshmen prepare for the workplace of the future.

Accounting: New and complex accounting laws are creating high demand for these professionals. Forensic accountants are especially coveted. Jobs will be plentiful with large, medium and small accounting firms; public and private companies; and in federal, state and local government. Skills will also be valuable for anyone with entrepreneurial aspirations. By 2014, nearly 270,000 new accounting jobs will be created. In 2005, the average salary was $58,020.

Physical therapy: The aging population of baby boomers will create high demand for these workers over the next four decades. Jobs will be available in hospitals and rehabilitation firms. There may also be opportunities for in-home specialists. The number of physical-therapy jobs will grow by 56,000 between now and 2014. The current average salary is $65,350.

Engineering: Many employers are already decrying the shortage of skilled workers in the engineering professions. Opportunities abound for those with the technology skills and the desire to keep learning throughout their career. There exists a wide variety of engineering specialties, such as construction or civil engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering and geological engineering. The economy will add nearly 200,000 engineering jobs by 2014. Engineers now average $72,965 annually.

Foreign languages: Those speaking Chinese and other Asian languages are in demand. Jobs as translators will expand by nearly 10,000 by 2014. However, this represents just a sliver of where foreign-language skills are needed. Being multilingual will pay off in marketing, finance, banking, trade, social services, education, health care and engineering.

International relations: A global economy makes it necessary to learn the cultures, political systems, consumer habits and business traditions of foreign countries. Course work in this area will be in demand in marketing, management consulting, banking and finance, politics and law.

Speech/acting: Not just for aspiring thespians and even future politicians — presentation skills will pay dividends in business, engineering, information technology, retail, sales and marketing, politics, law, management consulting, etc.

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