ERIC Identifier: ED259207
Publication Date: 1985-00-00
Author: Hassan, Salah Salem
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.

Education for High-Technology Jobs. Overview. ERIC Digest No. 37.

The technological changes occurring in telecommunications, computer applications, advanced manufacturing technology, and service delivery systems are influencing the demand for labor and the distribution of the labor force. Vocational educators are facing the challenge of training a labor force that can successfully work with the new technology.


Major technological changes are occurring primarily in three fields: telecommunications, computer applications, and advanced manufacturing technology (Faddis, Ashley, and Abram 1982; Abram and others 1983). Examples of changes are:


Some of the technological innovations being developed in this field include data networks, satellite and digitally encoded telephone and telecopy devices and systems, optical fibers and cables, electronic mail and shopping services, and electronic funds transfer systems. As business and industry adopt these technologies, only a few new occupations are expected to emerge (for example, laser technicians), although no current occupations are expected to vanish from the telecommunications industry.

However, the job skills needed for telecommunications occupations are being modified by the computerization of most of the manufacturing and installation jobs. Fewer mechanical skills and more computer programming skills are being required.

Computer Applications

Technological advancement in the microprocessor industry has a multidimensional impact on many high-technology fields. New applications of computer technologies such as optical scanners, electrostatic printers, and laser-imaged discs have revolutionized data processing, information storage and retrieval, and word processing.

Computer applications are now indicators of efficiency, productivity, and access for many industries, including banks, insurance firms, automobile manufacturers, health care institutions, and libraries. As a result of these technological changes, many occupations are emerging and becoming more important (for example, word processing specialist, computer programmer, systems analyst, and records management technicians).

These new computer-related occupations have replaced or reduced labor demand for office workers. However, new jobs are expected to emerge in information-processing occupations.

Advanced Manufacturing Technology

This technology uses sophisticated fabrication, assembly, finishing, and quality control equipment incorporating microprocessor-driven control systems, lasers, programmable computerized robots, optical scanners, and other new materials and processes (Faddis, Ashley, and Abram 1982). All are designed and adopted as control mechanisms to increase accuracy, efficiency, and safety and to reduce labor costs per manufactured unit.

Consequently, many semi-skilled and skilled occupations, such as pattern-cutters and sewing machine operators in the textile industry, are being eliminated entirely. However, some manufacturing technician jobs are emerging, requiring skills in laser operation, computer programming, and numerical control systems maintenance and repair.

Most new jobs either will not be in high-technology fields or will not require a substantial increase in skills because high technology tends to result in a reduction in the skilled labor force. Nevertheless, vocational educators should collaborate closely with business and industry to develop training programs that will provide workers with the skills needed for these jobs.


A report by Abram, Rose, and Landrum (1983) reveals that vocational education (secondary or postsecondary) must produce workers who can manage, operate, manufacture, test, design, program, install, maintain, and repair high-technology products and processes. These nine skill areas should be included in any educational program that serves the needs of business and industry. The authors urge educators to work closely with different high-technology industries to identify the nature of the required skills in each training program. Further, Abram, Rose, and Landrum (1983) suggest that the following five phases be considered when constructing high-technology training programs.

Phase 1. Long-Range Planning

Establishing a High-Technology Advisory Council will increase the effective involvement of business and industrial leaders. During this phase a "strategic planning process" is suggested to identify issues related to developing a 5-year plan for high-technology programs.

Phase 2. Program Planning

The High-Technology Advisory Council will develop program design criteria and performance goals. Using these criteria and goals, educators can determine how to provide needed skills and can establish faculty, administrative, and community support.

Phase 3. Development

Conducting and analyzing a needs assessment survey are the most important features of this phase. Survey questions reflect both the employers' and trainees' areas of interest and their ability to determine program specifications (for example, equipment, skills, facilities).

Phase 4. Implementation

This phase includes ordering equipment and materials, retaining current faculty and/or hiring new faculty, publicizing new programs, occupying and setting up facilities and equipment, preparing detailed course syllabi, conducting orientation for new and/or part-time faculty, providing high-technology counseling, and implementing the program(s).

Phase 5. Evaluation and Refinement

This phase involves a continuous review and refinement of the high-technology program's courses, methods, and equipment.


Abram, R., W. Ashley, C. Faddis, and A. Wiant. PREPARING FOR HIGH TECHNOLOGY: PROGRAMS THAT WORK. Research and Development Series No. 229. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1982. ED 216 167.

Abram, R., B. Rose, and B. Landrum. PREPARING FOR HIGH TECHNOLOGY: 30 STEPS TO IMPLEMENTATION. Research and Development Series No. 232. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1983. ED 228 471.

Ashley, W., E. Knopka, and L. Carrico. PREPARING FOR HIGH TECHNOLOGY: ROBOTICS PROGRAMS. Research and Development Series No. 233. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1983. ED 228 472.

Faddis, C., W. Ashley, and R. Abram. PREPARING FOR HIGH TECHNOLOGY: STRATEGIES FOR CHANGE. Research and Development Series No. 230. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1982. ED 216 168.

Rumberger, R. DEMYSTIFYING HIGH TECHNOLOGY. Occasional Paper No. 97. Columbus, OH: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1984. ED 240 305.

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