Did you know that health care is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in Genesee County? According to data from Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), it represents just over 17 percent of the region’s employment today.
And since jobs in the medical field are consistently in demand, it’s important that area students know about the opportunities available to them right here in Genesee County. With that in mind, the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with one of the community’s largest employers to host Health Care Industry Career Day.
Students from throughout Genesee County are touring the headquarters of Diplomat Pharmacy Inc., the nation’s largest independent provider of specialty pharmacy services, on Feb. 22. While there, they will attend breakout sessions covering a variety of career paths, ranging from pharmacy tech and nursing, to human resources and marketing. The goal, in part, is to show young people the diversity of careers within this industry. It also aims to demonstrate the strength of this industry in their home town. For some time, the region was mainly known for automotive manufacturing. And while that’s still a very important part of our economy, we’re seeing growth and diversification in other industries— including health care.
Locally, this industry is anchored by three major medical centers—Genesys Health System, Hurley and McLaren Flint—which continue to grow and invest in the latest state-of-the-art technology. And it’s been bolstered over the past few years by new investments such as downtown Flint’s Health & Wellness District, which includes the Flint Farmers’ Market, Genesys Downtown Flint Health Center, Genesys PACE Center, Hurley Pediatric Clinic, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and University of Michigan-Flint School of Nursing.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. employment will grow by 11.5 million jobs between 2016 and 2026. Considering factors like the aging baby-boomer population, longer life expectancies and growing rates of chronic conditions, about onethird of those jobs are expected to come from health care and social assistance.
I bring this up because, when we think about preparing the workforce of tomorrow, we must consider not just where the jobs are, but where the jobs will be in the future. Knowing that health care will soon be the largest major jobs industry in the U.S. can help inform what we teach, and how we teach, local youth.
This is one reason why we prioritize the exploration of science, technology, engineering and math during YouthQuest, the Chamber’s afterschool program for K-12 students. Many jobs of today and tomorrow require an understanding of STEM-related concepts and materials. And a child who learns to love STEM at a young age – and understands the opportunities these subjects offer in the working world – will be one step ahead of the rest.
Elizabeth S. Murphy is Chief Operating Officer at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.