1. A high unemployment rate is here to stay.
Last year, we predicted that getting unemployment below 9 percent would represent a "serious achievement." Unfortunately, that still stands for 2011. With the economy only just creating enough jobs to keep up with population growth—and government job-creation measures seemingly off the table—a rate of 8-point-anything is increasingly looking like nirvana.
2. More professionals head east
American students looking to go into finance will be studying Mandarin (and other Chinese language), because China is where the majority of financial services-related opportunities will be. This will extend beyond banking to the accounting and consulting industries, as well. PricewaterhouseCoopers intends to double its headcount in China over the next five years, meaning it will hire 10,000 people by 2015, while thousands of Deloitte's planned 50,000 new hires in 2011 will join the firm in the Far East.
3. Vocational occupations become more popular.
Skilled occupations that pay well yet don't require a higher-level education will become more desirable. That means more plumbers, CPAs and medical technicians. As enrollment and tuition rise at traditional four-year colleges, more people will look for lower-cost alternatives—say, community and for-profit colleges, providing them vocational certification and/or training without crippling student loans.
4. Companies will avoid big hiring programs.
If it ain't broke, don’t fix it. Many companies posted record profits on the back of cost savings in 2010, and are likely to continue that behavior. Having gotten used to doing more—and making bigger profits—with less manpower, if companies do decide to shovel any of their cash back into the economy in 2011, it's more likely to be for mergers and acquisitions than large-scale hiring programs.
5. Who will be hiring.
Despite the doom, there are still some growing career fields. Health care is an obvious (and longstanding) one, but as the various provisions of Obamacare start taking effect, there are serious opportunities for consultants and policy experts as well.
Tech is another field likely to continue growing—with a particular emphasis on cyber security, thanks to government spending aimed at curbing the threat of cyber-terrorism and hacking.
Finally, 2011 may well be the year that "green jobs" switches from buzzword to reality—with the majority of new positions in green manufacturing and technology