As we are nearly halfway through 2019, we were looking back at some of the predictions for the EHS world this year, just to see which might have proved true. EHS Today, for example, published a wide scope of opinions last year that outlined a number of trends and expectations.
Among these, as pointed out by contributor Carl Heinlein, is the increase in necessity for more qualified occupational health and safety professionals, in the face of less and less such managers being available for hire.
“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for three main categories of safety professionals – specialists, engineers and technicians are expected – to grow respectively by 7 percent, 11 percent, and 11 percent between now and 2022. Also, roughly 10 percent of all safety and health professionals will retire within the next year, and it is estimated that a great number of them are above age 50, meaning more retirements each year,” Heinlein says.
Our own Kevin Smith agrees and says the trend has certainly held steady in 2018: “For about fifteen years or so, openings have been on the rise each year, and that will continue at least through 2026. Findlay All Hazards is part of the University of Findlay, of course, and we work closely with our colleagues in the university’s Environmental, Safety, and Occupational Health department. They tell me that K-12 teachers and guidance counselors do not know about careers in the field or the degrees that help young people find fulfilling jobs as EHS managers and techs.” Smith asserts that since academic programs are seeing less enrollment, companies are struggling to fill positions with degreed safety professionals. “We are in a unique position to not only see the gap in EHS education enrollment but to speak with our corporate clients on the topic. They very often claim that they just can’t get the in-house safety people they need.”
“The result,” Smith says, “is that someone is given ‘the safety wand’ without the right education or experience for the job.”
What can EHS professionals and upper management people do to help remedy the situation? Especially If the corporation is sizable or is one facility of many in a corporate chain, they can improve their relationships with the education channel. Communities all across America talk today about how they want to keep their young people at home through their careers. If major companies express to local K-12 educators that this is a growing need at their plants, guidance and employment counselors can then direct young people toward safety and health management degrees like those found at Findlay. By working with new college students entering the discipline, the well-established local company can then recruit them to permanent hires after internships.
Another way to fill a safety management position is by promoting from within, while still avoiding the dangerous circumstance that Kevin Smith identified. That can be accomplished by adding to the education of the staffer who is moving to the EHS manager slot. Findlay All Hazards’ training workshops, many of which can be accessed online, can be the solution, getting a worker certified and ready to assume at least some critical responsibilities. They can then move on to a degree in the field thanks to more non-traditional learning even while working every day as an EHS professional.
Find out more about the range of options for environmental, health, and safety learning by speaking with Findlay expert today.