It might be hard to believe in the midst of this enduring recession, but once the economy stabilizes, we will likely be moving from a job crisis to a talent shortage. A new research report sponsored by and MetLife Foundation predicts that in less than 10 years, there will be more jobs than people to fill them. And nearly half of them roughly 2.4 million will be in social sector jobs. At the same time, according to companion reports on health care, green jobs and education, new kinds of jobs such as energy auditors, chronic illness coaches and sustainability consultants will become increasingly common.

As more people choose to age in their homes, they will need assistance from home modification specialists, health care navigators and medication coaches. Others will take the conversation about greening our world from dream to reality. Those in construction and contracting fields will focus their attention on weatherizing buildings and retrofitting structures. And still others will be part of transforming the way children are cared for and educated.

Clearly this is good news for those who have the ability to plan, but how can you make use of this research if you’re looking for an encore career now or in the next few years?

  1. Review the sections of the reports that provide job descriptions, qualifications and training. Scan those to see if any appeal.
  2. If something piques your interest, but you don’t think the job is yet there, is there any interim path you can envision to help get you prepared?
  3. If you’re not yet ready to move into an encore career, volunteer and start to build relationships in the sectors that interest you. When you’re ready to look for a position, you’ll have a sense of what you might want to do and a network in place to help you.
  4. If you are entrepreneurial, look at these studies for ideas of trends that will provide opportunities. You might think of a way to provide help to an aging population, much like Elaine Santore did with Umbrella Group of The Capital District, which matches up individuals over 50 with handypeople to help with household chores.
  5. As you read the lists of new and emerging jobs, remember that those are merely illustrative of jobs of the future. Try to imagine others.
  6. If you’re already in a field, such as nursing, where increased demand is expected, think about whether you’d like to work differently in the future. If you’ve worked full time, maybe you’ll want to cut your hours. If you’ve worked exclusively in hospitals, perhaps you’ll want to work with people in their homes.
  7. Tap into organizations looking at new ways to use human talent to address important needs. See what’s going on at your local hospital or schools, or in nonprofits in your community. Community colleges will also give you a good sense of what is going on in your area as they develop programs to address needs of all age groups.
  8. Adopt a lifelong learning mindset. Whether you’re moving into an entirely new sector or shifting to a new role in a field where you have years of experience, if you want to be competitive, you’re always going to be training for the next position or to remain cutting edge in your current one.
  9. Many of the jobs in these studies are some form of mentoring, training or coaching. If you thrive when teaching others, think about ways to use your experience to guide others in these emerging fields.