The future of American jobs, continued: following up on my discussion last week about the United States BLS jobs of the future report, Ron Griggs points out a related chart from the same federal agency. “Most new jobs” displays the “20 occupations with the highest projected numeric change in employment”, rather than the jobs growing proportionally.
Here are the top ten:
- Registered Nurses
- Retail Salespersons
- Home Health Aides
- Personal Care Aides
- Office Clerks, General
- Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food
- Customer Service Representatives
- Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
- Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand
- Postsecondary Teachers
These share many similar characteristics with the “Fastest growing occupations” report: an emphasis on service (not manufacturing), a lack of educational demands. There isn’t much sign of the vaunted knowledge economy. There’s also a tendency towards lower salaries:
Only a few of these are middle class positions, of themselves.
Once again I ask, what does this kind of prognostication tell us about higher education? Perhaps academia is marginal to these mainstream, growing jobs, whose educational demands do not link up with liberal arts colleges or research universities.
Alternatively, note how many are related to health care. Schools could read this as a summons to strengthen their various life sciences programs.
From a darker perspective, the BLS outlines the careers from which traditional higher education claims to rescue students. College and university experience gives the learner the means to avoid such burgeoning fates; is that our emerging marketing strategy?
What does this kind of projection tell policymakers? The regional growth formula of “meds and eds” would still work, perhaps. Or that they should simply prepare for greater economic inequality, and assume education no longer reduces class divisions.
From a different angle, we can also ask: what needs to happen for this BLS project to be wrong? What kind of changes would impact the next decade to produce a different set of jobs?