Where the Available Jobs Are

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — A full 38% of companies plan to create science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs in 2014, according to new data.

“We expect hiring to increase in areas that support sales such as customer service, information technology and research/development,” said Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America.

New CareerBuilder data revealed that 38% of employers plan to hire in the customer service area, 37% in IT, 31% in research and development and 30% in sales.

While the growth of high-skill, specialized occupations is a positive sign for the economy, companies are struggling to keep up with the demand to fill these jobs. About 38% of employers reported these positions go unfilled for three months or longer. As a result, more than half plan to train people who don’t have experience in their field and hire them in 2014 while 36% are sending current employees back to school to get an advanced degree.

“Setting aside the lower wages of less than $17 per hour for service workers and more than $38 per hour in the professional category, the large number of unemployed pursuing service openings continues to challenge job-seekers in those fields,” said June Shelp, vice president of The Conference Board. “In many cases the educational gap for job-seekers to pursue the more plentiful opportunities in the professional category is just too great.”

A total of 352,000 advertised vacancies were added in the last six months of 2013 and the largest gains were in service jobs, which are typically lower-wage jobs, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine.

“The gains in late 2013 are likely to be hires in early 2014,” Shelp said. “Based on the advertisements, the unemployed with the skills to fill the shortages in many professional occupations, such as computer workers and medical workers, will find there are three or more advertised jobs while those looking for wait staff, sales clerks and cook positions will be more challenged with two or three unemployed for every job opening.”

The demand for transportation and material handling occupations saw a rise of 48,300 with increased sales fueling the need for truck drivers to deliver the products. The second half of 2013 also saw demand for food service workers, such as cooks and wait staff, gain 25,000.

Professional occupations increased 117,400 with the largest gain of 49,100 in management positions for sales staff managers as well as treasurers and marketing managers. The demand for healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses, increased 36,600.

More disappointing was the 10,500 falloff in demand for construction workers during the last six months of 2013 because construction was flat in 2013. Since labor demand tends to lead changes in employment, this decline may be an indication that new construction projects might slow in the early months of 2014, according to the Conference Board.

On the upside, more companies are connecting with future generations of workers to establish a constant pipeline of job candidates. About 36% of hiring managers have promoted careers at their firms to high school students or, in some cases, even younger with 31% planning to do so in 2014, according to CareerBuilder data.