Where The Jobs Will Be This Decade

CAROL’S SUMMARY: New Decade of Jobs

Workforce relevance, something deeply missing among college students and graduates compared to other developed nations, is forcing more accountability among colleges and universities, as the article below iterates. Students (and their parents) are increasingly focused on education being relevant to the job market, and the response to that demand is changing higher education. With the high cost of college and the economic lull in the U.S. and around the world, more families are demanding that colleges and universities prepare students to land jobs upon graduation, not just degrees. For example, Thomas College, a liberal arts school in Maine, advertises itself as “Home of the Guaranteed Job!” Students who can’t find work in their fields within six months of graduation can come back to take classes free, or have the college pay their student loans for a year. The shift in attitudes is reflected in a shifting curriculum. Nationally, business has been the most popular major for the last 15 years. Campuses also report a boom in public health fields, and many institutions are building up environmental science and just about anything prefixed with “bio.” Reflecting the new economic and global realities, they are adding or expanding majors in Chinese and Arabic. The University of Michigan has seen a 38 percent increase in students enrolling in Asian language courses since 2002, while French has dropped by 5 percent.

In today’s story from National Public Radio (1/4/10) cited at the link below, producers list 10 occupations that the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects will be the most in demand over the next decade:

1. Registered nurses
2. Home health aids
3. Customer service representatives
4. Food preparation and serving workers
5. Personal and home care aides
6. Retail salespersons
7. Office clerks
8. Accountants
9. Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants
10. Postsecondary teachers

According to the BLS, six of the top seven fastest-growing occupations are low-skill, low-wage jobs. Harvard University labor economist Lawrence Katz says the challenge is to professionalize these jobs by focusing on skills. Better education and/or training leads to higher wages.

I often present at education conferences on college and career success emphasizing a global perspective and a mission to improve low performance in this country at the college level and in K-12. Here are questions prospective students and parents can ask when they are investigating a college, university or vocational training program:

What are your placement rates, internship/apprenticeship opportunities and alumni involvement with current students?

What jobs could this degree lead me to? When somebody asks, “How are you going to use that English degree?” students need to be able to clearly articulate what they are able to do. If they don’t know, employers probably won’t either.

How can individuals and companies improve skills in an affordable and accessible manner?

How can people who start in low wage jobs increase their knowledge and skills to prepare for better, more sustainable future work?


Where The Jobs Will Be This Decade
by John Ydstie
January 4, 2010

This month we begin a new decade with a big economic question: Where are the jobs?

The first decade of this century ended as a disaster for employment. Since the recession began two years ago, the U.S. has lost more than 7 million jobs.

Just to regain the jobs we’ve lost will be a huge challenge, says Harvard University labor economist Lawrence Katz. “We would need well over 300,000 [jobs] a month for four years in a row just to make up what we’ve lost in the last couple of years,” Katz says.

He says there are very few periods in U.S. history when job growth has been that strong.

“So we’re in a very deep hole,” Katz says. “A normal recovery will not get us there for a very long time.”

To view this entire article visit www.npr.org

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