Jobs of the future aren’t what you think

Bureau of Labor StatisticsWhat are the rising jobs of the future?  According to a report from the United States government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they tend to involve physical labor or medical service, little education, and relatively low pay.

Here are what the BLS deems the “Fastest growing occupations, 2010 and projected 2020”:

  1. Personal Care Aides;
  2. Home Health Aides;
  3. Biomedical Engineers;
  4. Helpers–Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters;
  5. Helpers–Carpenters, Veterinary Technologists and Technicians;
  6. Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers;
  7. Physical Therapist Assistants;
  8. Helpers–Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters;
  9. Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
  10. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

What are the implications for education?  Note how little schooling is required for these, except for the two medical technology positions.  Indeed, many workers in these fields learn by apprenticeship, not college.  So should the American education system rethink the old vocational track in order to direct learners towards these positions?

For higher education, are colleges and universities making the implicit argument that their graduates won’t have to work in these fields?  If so, this fits in with the theory that modern American education reinforces rather than reduces class divides (a point Andrew Delbanco makes).  Further, the leading jobs that actually require higher education are medical.  Perhaps institutions should expand their biomedical capacity.

Note, too, the relatively low salaries.  They seem consistent with macroeconomic arguments that the American middle class is being hollowed out.

These patterns continue for quite a ways as you read down the chart.

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11 Responses to Jobs of the future aren’t what you think

  1. Interesting that most of these jobs can’t be shipped overseas. I imagine that’s part of why they’re a growing field–are folks whose jobs have been outsourced expected to move into these fields as well?

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  2. Pumpkin Yang says:

    So what are your thoughts on the future of less vocationally oriented white collar employment?

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  3. Pumpkin, what kind of jobs are you thinking of, CEO, artist, financial analyst?

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  4. skjandrews says:

    AP has some interesting infographics on this. http://bigstory.ap.org/interactive/interactive-great-reset

    But the interactive video gives a little too much credit to technology to explain the lack of hiring. There is also an increasing exploitation of the workers on the job. These numbers are indeed troubling – I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot. And I think it explains not only the decline in public support for education, but the apparent abandonment of education as an institution legitimating the American meritocracy. If the only thing we need are people trained for low level service economy, then we don’t need a highly educated workforce. The global plutocracy is satisfied with their servant class: the rest of us can rot.

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    • Perhaps education and training are splitting apart. The former now means either non-economically-useful stuff or what the 1% get to be leaders, while the latter is job prep.
      That fits the hollowing out of the middle class model.

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  5. skjandrews says:

    Or maybe it is just an opportunity to bring about the jobless utopia: http://jacobinmag.com/2013/05/curious-utopias/

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  6. Pingback: Following up on future jobs | Bryan Alexander

  7. Pingback: How not to write against MOOCs and education reform | Bryan Alexander

  8. Pingback: Technology versus workers, or technology for workers? | Bryan Alexander

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