The Coast News Group
Mark James. Courtesy photo
CitiesCommunityRegionSan Marcos

Local author, recruiter talks about his latest book, local economic trends


REGION — The economy is raging and with it, so is the need for a talented workforce.

Author and executive recruiter Mark James, 63, of San Marcos said the San Diego area is in the midst of one of its best economic times ever.

Unemployment is less than 3 percent and in some industries it is less than 2 percent.

“I would tell you it’s the best of times … probably in 45 to 50 years,” James said. “As far as unemployment, it’s the lowest probably in our generation. 2009 was the worst year ever. We had double-digit employment … 14 to 15 percent and now it’s less than 3 percent.”

As of June, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate is 4 percent. Anything less than 5 percent, James said, is considered full employment.

He said cyber security and data analytics are two of the most sought-after careers in San Diego. Demand for talent in cyber security is at -2 percent, which he said means for every one job, two people are needed to fill it.

Cyber security is especially critical, James said, because of the abundance of hackers and cyber warfare between governments to protect infrastructure and other sensitive materials.

One issue in defending against hackers is ransomware, which holds a computer or server hostage until the company pays the demanded amount.

“Cyber security is on fire,” James said. “Universities have already jumped on board with curriculum. Cyber security is a big problem. It’s negative unemployment, which means they can’t find people fast enough.”

Other areas of increasing growth, he said, include extreme/active sports and subsections of the industry such as apparel and food. Biotech, health care and nanotechnology, he said, will always be strong.

One technology, James explained, is Smart Dust, which consists of miniature drones the size of the tip of a pin measuring air temperature, barometric pressure, pollution and possibly radiation. The data is transmitted back to a server and analyzed.

“Smart Dust is way down on the bottom trough of the bell curve on the emerging trend side,” James said. “So in 10 years, Smart Dust is going to be a common name. It’s an area that is exploding as well.”

Additionally, the workforce is becoming smaller with the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, leaving companies voids with entry-, mid- and executive-level talent until the younger generations mature.

“It will be very demanding to find leadership,” James added.

He also recently released his book, “Keys to the C Suite: Unlock the Doors to Executive Career Path Success.” The book includes his advice, along with surveys and worksheets to help determine competencies, strengths and skills.

James said he spends 85 percent of his time coaching executives in career transition and those looking for advancement or for more satisfaction. His coaching centers on collaboration between clients, getting them together to generate ideas, tips and referrals to expand their contacts and make introductions.

“Your network is you net worth,” James said. “That’s how your career starts to work for you. When the phone doesn’t ring, then what do you do? I’m a missionary and converting a lot of people on how to conduct a job search campaign.”