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1/1/1999 | 2 MINUTE READ

The Next U.S. Workforce

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According to the U.S.


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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1992 and 2005 more than 26 million new jobs will be created in the U.S. Of those, 10 million will require a high school diploma or less, and the remaining 16.3 million will require some type of additional training and education, such as an associate degree or technical training. The statistics also estimate that these types of jobs will account for nearly 45% of new jobs in the year 2005, and labor economist John Bishop believes it could be as high as 60%.

This is good news for me. My son, Daniel, is a high school senior who is not planning to attend a traditional four-year college. He would like to attend a two-year college to study graphic arts and/or electronics. However, his entire 12 years of school have "groomed" him to attend a traditional four-year college.

In his book Skill Wars, Edward E. Gordon states that the bad news is that non-college-bound students remain a low priority in most American high schools. They are the "neglected majority." However, economists think 70% of future good jobs will not need a four-year degree. This is good, since they also predict 75% of U.S. teens will not finish a four-year degree program.

Business people see education as the job of the schools. Teachers see career preparation negatively, perhaps as an assault on liberal arts or a "dumbing down" of the schools.

However, the biggest obstacle, Mr. Gordon notes, is the mindset of parents regarding their children's future. The biggest myth perpetuated is that "a bachelor's degree is the best route to a good job and secure lifetime career."

Young Americans have "wildly high expectations" regarding their future. Most expect to have high-status, high-paying jobs. One-third expects to have professional careers. Ten percent expect to be doctors and another 10% expect to work in the sports or entertainment industry. Few believe they will work in the service, craft or technical industries where most new jobs will be created. Perhaps this is why manufacturing companies are having such a difficult time finding, hiring and keeping qualified workers. Who wants to get his hands dirty everyday? Who wants to be the average Joe living on Elm Street in Anytown, America? Is anyone willing to start at the bottom and work to the top?

The most difficult thing to do is change the way people think. We educate children to continue their education, not to make a living if they decide not to go on to earn a bachelor's degree or technical degree. All children deserve attention. All children need to learn how to make their own way.

According to Mr. Gordon, all young people graduating high school need these five skills no matter what "program" they are in: 1) Basic academic skills (reading, writing, etc.); 2) Set of productive work habits; 3) Personally meaningful system of work values (not just make a lot of money); 4) Job seeking/finding/holding skills; and 5) Career decision-making skills.