Healthcare’s Looming Talent Troubles

If you are an HR leader in the healthcare sector, there’s good news and bad news on the jobs front. The good news is the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that healthcare jobs will be among the fastest-growing in the nation by 2026. BLS projects health care will account for about 2.3 million new jobs over the next nine years.  Growth is good.

The bad news? Pinpointing exactly how to fill those jobs won’t be easy, depending on location.

A recent U.S. healthcare labor market analysis from Mercer compares future supply and demand of workers to project workforce availability across 50 healthcare occupations through 2025. According to the report, the projected supply of healthcare workers in several states will fall short of demand.

In terms of category, more than half of the new jobs the BLS forecast – around 1.6 million combined – will come from employment of personal care aides, home health aides and registered nurses, driven by an American population that’s trending older, sicker and more sedentary.

“These high-growth jobs will likely have gaps in demand and supply of workers,” said Jason Narlock, senior consultant, Workforce Strategy and Analytics at Mercer, in a company statement.  “While BLS figures show employment for Home Health Aides is expected to grow forty-seven percent in 2026, our analysis shows that providers might find it tough to fill all these roles – with each state facing a likely gap of 2,000 workers on average by 2025.”

Potential gaps in key worker availability will greatly impact healthcare employers as they consider the future-ready workforce they need to deliver quality patient care, Narlock explains. Mercer recommends employers should:

  • Understand full exposure to potential workforce risks – both external and internal. In addition to considering external labor market risks, employers must also understand the flow of employees in, through and out of its organization for the full picture.
  • Be proactive to mitigate the impact – While employers can’t control what is happening in the external labor market, effectively managing internal labor markets can help mitigate exposure to these risks.
  • Figure out how proposed workforce changes will impact patient health and satisfaction. Before making large investments, employers can use data and analytics to better understand the likely impact of changes on patient metrics.

“The good news is that much of this work relies on data that healthcare systems already collect,” Narlock said. “It’s not a matter of getting new data, but better leveraging data to develop empirical insights that will drive strategic workforce planning and build a future-ready workforce.”