Daniel J. Foley is president of Randstad Professionals US in Woburn, a subsidiary of the Dutch firm Randstad Holding NV, the world’s second-largest staffing company. Randstad recently published its list of 13 hot job sectors for 2013. Foley spoke with Globe reporter Callum Borchers to discuss the job outlook in Massachusetts.
How much hiring will we see in the coming year for permanent and temporary jobs?
We’re seeing that the permanent placement market, which is a decent percentage of our business, has been really healthy last year and we look forward to this year being along the same lines. We don’t see any kind of hiring cliff. Some of the uncertainty lends itself to more temporary staffing because of things like [economic problems in] Europe. But that’s balanced with the fact that companies have a lot of cash on the balance sheet, and worker productivity has been really strained. That lends itself to a fairly good hiring environment.
Which job sectors are showing signs of growth?
Health care is driving a lot of demand for employment. And what’s primarily driving that is Obamacare. There’s many more people who are now insured and they’re going to hospitals more frequently, so that kicks up the need for more nursing and more physicians.
We also see a fairly robust market in information technology. There’s a couple things driving that. One is health care, things like electronic medical records. Outside of that, we also see cloud computing, mobile phones, continued development of the Web, big data analytics. Those are also driving demand.
If you’re a college student, what should you study to improve your job prospects?
Where we see continual job creation is in engineering and IT. We are not producing enough undergraduates in those fields. When we have gone to do some studies on this, we’ve asked the younger generation, “Why don’t you go into IT?” It’s because they think they missed the technological revolution. We see the complete opposite. We see that this is still going to be a very strong growth market for many years to come. We also see that health care is going to be a very robust industry for probably the next 10 years, anyway.
What about a middle-age worker who’s been laid off, can’t find work in his old field, but doesn’t have time to get a four-year engineering degree?
I always encourage people to think about a few things. One is to try to follow the money. There are certain industries that at any given time in an economic cycle are doing better, and that’s where they’re hiring. Two, I might be willing to trade some compensation for experience. And third, I always think that temporary staffing can be a great avenue to finding that full-time job.
Why should people consider a temp job if what they need is a permanent job? Seems risky.
Our clients like the notion of trying somebody out on a temporary basis and, if it works, converting them to full time. But it also works for the employee, getting to try something on a temporary basis, evaluate the company, and gain some new skills.
Let’s say you have a job, but you’re worried about becoming a dinosaur and getting pushed out by some young, tech-savvy whiz. What do you do?
I’m one of those guys. Everybody can get a little concerned about getting left behind, so you’re not alone. It is important for people to take ownership of their own career and to take advantage of programs that their companies might offer, like ongoing development and training, and finding employers who are willing to invest in their employees.
If things don’t work out in Massachusetts, where should I go to find a job?
There’s a lot of jobs in North Dakota right now because of oil and gas drilling. There’s a complete lack of infrastructure. There’s demand for workers and there’s not things like hospitals, housing, retail. Think of all the things that go with building a society. There’s a part of me that wonders if in 20 years, North Dakota is going to look like Las Vegas. Only colder.