ERIC Identifier: ED259216
Publication Date: 1985-00-00
Author: Naylor, Michele
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Jobs of the Future. Overview. ERIC Digest No. 46.
Before vocational educators can develop curricula to meet future labor market
needs, they must first determine what the job market of the future will be and
which occupations will be in demand.
PROJECTED LABOR NEEDS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE CENTURY
Most economic and educational planners agree that high technology will have a
profound impact on the world of work in the next few decades; however, no
consensus exists concerning the extent of the impact of high tech or the types
and levels of job skills workers will need. Although some planners view high
technology as the solution to the Nation's unemployment problems, others view it
as a force that will eventually result in the displacement of massive numbers of
workers and the ultimate loss of great numbers of jobs.
Grubb (1984) cites an ongoing study of the occupational composition of high
tech and standard manufacturing in Texas as evidence that, when attempting to
forecast future labor force requirements, planners must distinguish between
percentage of growth and absolute growth in terms of numbers of job openings
created. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures, Levin (1984) draws the
following conclusions concerning projections between 1978 and 1990:
--The 20 occupations expected to manifest the largest absolute growth in
terms of numbers of new jobs created are as follows: janitors and sextons,
nurses' aides and orderlies, salesclerks, cashiers, waiters and waitresses,
general office clerks, professional nurses, food preparation and service
workers, secretaries, truck drivers, kitchen helpers, elementary school
teachers, typists, accountants and auditors, trades helpers, blue-collar worker
supervisors, bookkeepers, licensed practical nurses, guards and doorkeepers, and
automotive mechanics. None of these is a high-tech occupation.
--Although 6 of the 20 fastest growing occupations are associated with high
technology (data processing machine mechanics, computer systems analysts,
computer operators, office machine and cash register servicers, computer
programmers, and aero-astronautic engineers), only about 7 percent of all new
jobs will be in high-technology occupations.
--Far more job openings are expected to occur in low- and entry-level
occupations than in highly skilled or professional occupations. For example, BLS
statistics predict that three times as many new job openings for janitors and
sextons will occur than for the top five fastest growing occupations.
ACCURACY OF LABOR MARKET PROJECTIONS
Levin (1984) writes that labor market projections developed by the Department
of Defense are quite similar to those of the BLS. However, the projections are
not without potential sources of error, such as (1) the impact of anticipated
increases in the current administration's military budget that, if enacted,
would increase the demand for scientific and technical personnel and (2) the
accelerated rate at which U.S. manufacturers are shifting their high tech
production operations to other nations.
According to Grubb (1984), vocational education itself may have an impact on
the level of skills required by labor force participants. He suggests that
current rates of expansion in community college programs could lead to a surplus
of community college graduates. These surplus graduates could be absorbed into
jobs that could have been filled by individuals with less preparation, resulting
in what Grubb terms "skills upgrading or, more cynically, as credential
inflation." Or they might take the places of those with more training, thus
causing a "de-skilling from professional-level positions."
IMPLICATIONS FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION
Despite the care that goes into the compilation of employment projections,
they remain projections or, in other words, "best guesses." Concluding that it
is impossible to predict accurately which jobs will be available to any one
individual throughout the 40 or 50 years of his or her participation in the
labor force, Levin (1984) suggests that "in order for elementary and secondary
education to meet future labor market conditions, strong general skills to
enhance versatility and the ability to benefit from further training should be
stressed -- rather than narrow, labor market preparation." In addition, planners
should develop a system of recurrent education that would take place in a
"recurring pattern with work and leisure."
MODELS FOR TECHNOLOGICAL LITERACY EDUCATION
Because high tech will have an ever-increasing impact on all aspects of
society, it is more important than ever for educational planners to develop a
comprehensive plan for technological literacy education. Dyrenfurth (1984) and
Lemons (1984) have each described models for providing pretechnology or
technological literacy education.
Dyrenfurth's model calls for coordination and articulation on the part of the
school, public, and private sectors to address the following stages of
--first order technological literacy (awareness of all technology)
--second-order technological literacy (awareness and exploration of a subset
--third-order technological literacy (exploration, pre-specialization, and
preparation in a component of a subset of technology)
According to Dyrenfurth's scheme, not all persons would need to achieve all
three levels of technological literacy. First-stage technological literacy
instruction should be incorporated into existing elementary, junior high, and
middle school curricula. Material designed to help students attain a
second-order technological literacy can be infused into middle and secondary
social studies, industrial arts, home economics, and practical arts curricula.
Dyrenfurth points to the model proposed by the Center for Occupational
Research and Development (CORD) for secondary vocational education as a system
that would allow high school vocational students to achieve second- and
third-order technological literacy. The CORD model calls for students to cover
one topic per week, spending the first two days viewing lab demonstrations or
videotapes and participating in discussions. The third day is used to explore
the analytical applications of the technical concepts and principles covered on
the two preceding days. The last two days are devoted to hands-on, practical
Concluding that the role of secondary vocational education is to prepare
students for postsecondary programs or for in-house training provided by
employers, Lemons proposes a model for pre-technology education that includes
the following components:
--Training in elementary industrial arts for preschoolers
--An introduction to technology and industry for elementary school children
--Training in technology, enterprise, and career awareness for middle school
--Training in basic skills, a technical core, and a chosen high-tech area for
secondary school and adult students
Lemons calls for articulation between secondary and postsecondary vocational
programs, citing the "two plus two" model involving two years of secondary
pretech courses and two years of postsecondary technological courses that was
proposed at a workshop sponsored by the American Vocational Association and the
Center for Occupational Research and Development (2 + 2 1984).
POSTSECONDARY HIGH-TECH TRAINING
Like Lemons and Dyrenfurth, Grubb (1984) agrees that postsecondary vocational
institutions, especially community colleges, should provide training for
high-tech occupations. Although he views the recent explosion in community
college high-tech programming as a generally positive phenomenon, Grubb cautions
planners of such programs. First, he advises program developers and policymakers
to resist the temptation to "resurrect depressed areas of the country by
attracting new industry (especially high tech industry) in search of a trained
Acknowledging the potential benefits of partnerships between vocational
education and local industry, Grubb goes on to warn that "through skill training
or socialization to specific company norms, students may become tied to one
company," and that institutions succumbing to local industry pressures to drop
many liberal arts requirements to provide time for more industry -- or even
firm-specific training -- run "the risk of undermining the justification for
public support of community colleges."
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Dyrenfurth, M. J. LITERACY FOR A TECHNOLOGICAL WORLD. Information Series no.
266. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The
Ohio State University, 1984. ED 241 715.
Grubb, W. N. "The Bandwagon Once More: Vocational Preparation for High Tech
Occupations." HARVARD EDUCATIONAL REVIEW 54 (November 1984):429-451.
Lemons, C. D. EDUCATION AND TRAINING FOR A TECHNOLOGICAL WORLD. Information
Series no. 267. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational
Education, The Ohio State University, 1984. ED 240 384.
Levin, H. M. EDUCATION AND JOBS IN A TECHNOLOGICAL WORLD. Information Series
no. 265. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education,
The Ohio State University, 1984. ED 240 383.
2 + 2 = (A NEW APPROACH TO EDUCATION). SECONDARY/POSTSECONDARY COOPERATION.
PROCEEDINGS OF A WORKSHOP HELD AT THE AMERICAN VOCATIONAL ASSOCIATION CONVENTION
(NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, NOVEMBER 29, 1984). Washington, D.C.: American
Association of Community and Junior Colleges; Arlington, VA: American Vocational
Association; Waco, TX: Center for Occupational Research and Development, 1984.
ED 252 713.