Report: Professional Services Industry Forecast to be a Major Job-Driver in LA

Workforce intelligence report finds Business & Professional Services Sector will reach 400,000 jobs by 2021, according to Center for a Competitive Workforce                                                     

LOS ANGELES, CA (Dec 13, 2018) –  In a continuing series of industry deep-dive reports, the Center for a Competitive Workforce (CCW) has released Professional Services in the Los Angeles Basin, which forecasts that by 2021 there will be just under 400,000 payroll jobs in professional services in the LA Basin (LA and Orange Counties combined), resulting from the nearly 14,000 new jobs created from the baseline year of 2016. Nearly half of projected total job openings –over  6,300 – will be in middle-skill occupations that generally pay well and are accessible with less than a bachelor’s degree.

Professional Services is a field that includes numerous service sectors that are knowledge-based, including legal services, accounting, computer services, architecture and engineering.  The report indicates the greatest growth in employment is expected for computer support specialists and graphic designers;  in total, 15 growing middle-skill occupations are profiled. All 28 community colleges in the LA Basin offer programs that prepare students for professional services occupations, and the community colleges conferred nearly 4,300 related awards, via 30 programs, in the most recent academic year.

The report also found that in addition to the payroll employees in professional services in the LA Basin, there are a large number of contingent workers hired on a per-project basis, estimated to be close to 300,000, confirming the growing importance of the so-called “gig economy” where many of the workers are independent consultants or freelance for this professional services sector; this is something that educators and policymakers have to take very seriously moving forward.

Like the broader economy, much of the job growth in professional services has been fueled by an increase in technology-based industries, including management and technical consulting and computer systems design. Looking ahead, non-automatable skills, such as analytical capabilities, relationship skills, data interpretation, strategic guidance and predictive insights will be highly valued by employers.  IT continues to provide ample opportunities for middle-skill workers, many of these positions have pathways to more senior positions and higher wages.

This fourth report from the CCW is designed to help workforce development providers such as the community college system align programs with demand from local industry, help employers identify and engage with those talent pipelines, and help job-seekers and educators identify the middle-skill occupations that are in demand and present well-paying career opportunities.  The report presents granular data on wages, job openings, educational attainment and demographics of the existing workforce.

Previous CCW reports include Health Services, Digital Media & Entertainment, and a report on the Top 30 in-demand middle-skill occupations in the LA Basin. The CCW also helps businesses connect with these talent pipelines for internships or hiring, and helps colleges adapt programs to teach new platforms and technologies that businesses are utilizing.

“Our CCW reports look at the industries in which LA has productive advantages, such as: aerospace, entertainment, digital media, and that will offer well-paying jobs that are not at immediate risk of automation or capital-labor replacement. The purpose is to get all of our region’s educational institutions ‘on the same page’ and directed towards the future job needs of firms from these all-important and highly concentrated LA industries” said Shannon Sedgwick, LAEDC senior economist and report co-author.

The report was funded by the Strong Workforce Program, an initiative of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and supports the goal of industry-aligned education which responds to the skills needs of business.

Center for a Competitive Workforce (CCW), housed at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), is a Strong Workforce Program regional project of the 19 L.A. region community colleges in the LA/OC Regional Consortium, the Center of Excellence for Labor Market Research at Mt. San Antonio College, the LAEDC and its Institute for Applied Economics, and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. The mission of CCW is to better align supply and demand data via labor market intelligence, and support industry-driven career education and workforce development programs, including internships.  This serves to strengthen curricula and industry engagement across our region’s talent development systems with the goal to train, educate and upskill a more competitive workforce in LA County for the knowledge-intensive industries that will come to dominate our economic future.  This partnership addresses the talent gaps employers face, and better aligns the supply of talent with the projected demand of local employers.

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