A report from the Conference Board released this week indicates that labor shortages could be a reality for hundreds of occupations in the coming years.

Occupational and physical therapy, plant operators and nurses all fall onto the Conference Board’s list of nearly five hundred occupations that could be at risk for a labor shortfall in the next 15 years. Industry growth, disinterest among younger workers and baby boomer retirement are all contributing factors in many occupations.

While current wages have yet to reflect the situation, the labor market shift will eventually provide short-term gains for workers in the form of higher wages. Business owners will see a resulting drop in their profits due to higher labor costs, but the relief to workers may bring consumers back to a more equal playing field.

In the long term, labor shortages could be (and traditionally have been) trouble for occupations that lose more employees than they are able to replace. Positions that require a great deal of education or training will cause more problems as well. Current unemployment levels suggest that some at-risk industries may escape the shortfall, but other less attractive industries may not be so lucky.

Not all occupations are at risk of shortages, however. “Unskilled” positions such in food service (including waiters, cashiers, and fast food preparers) and telemarketing, as well as many skilled positions in crafting and masonry, should have as many workers as they require. (There is also clearly no shortage of actors, so make sure your auditions stand out!)

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