Friday, December 07, 2007

The Jobs of the Future

Writing in Thinking K-16, a journal published by the Education Trust, Patte Barth argues that “The Information Age set off a rush to find skilled workers in many occupations and simultaneously reduced the proportion of unskilled jobs.”

She warns ominously, “The future holds grim prospects for young people who lack sufficient skills, for they are increasingly shut out of good, middle-income jobs. The occupations experiencing the largest growth are those that demand well-developed cognitive skills and postsecondary credentials.”

That growth, reports Ed in 08 on a “fact sheet” entitled American Education Standards, means that “Two-thirds of new jobs being created in today’s economy require higher education or advanced training.”

Those students not entering “high skill” jobs must receive a rigorous education heavily dosed with math and science, urges Education Sector, because “Today even blue collar jobs call for more than basic computational skills.”

Take a moment and check out this November's job forecast for 2006-2016.

Look at the top experiencing "the largest growth."

How can someone say "2/3 of new jobs being created in today's economy require higher education or advanced training?"

Which blue collar jobs call for "more than basic computational skills?"

Am I missing something?


Aaron Schutz said...

Summary of citation below, taken from this week's Ed Links: As educational attainment goes up, the number of good jobs goes down. In other words, more educational attainment has been accompanied by a reduction in good jobs.

Take home message: educational credentials are worth less and less over time.

In earlier research, we examined long-term changes in the share of good and bad jobs in the United
States.22 That research found a flat and even falling share of good jobs, and a rising share of bad
jobs, in the U.S. economy over the quarter century following the end of the 1970s.23 This
disappointing performance coincided with substantial increases in the educational attainment and
median age of the workforce, as well as an almost 70 percent increase in GDP per capita, raising
important questions about the economy's ability over the long-term to convert economic progress
into improved wages and benefits.

philip said...

i don't see how we'll get improved wages and benefits when wall street execs continue to retire with 200 million pay packages...

Will Richardson said...

Echoes Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk where he speaks to the degree inflation we are experiencing now. More reason why I want my own kids to be part of Free Agent Nation.

Sherman Dorn said...

Among other problems, Barth confuses the social benefits of education with the individual benefits of education. Then again, that's fairly common in the public discourse around the human-capital benefits of education: "Because individuals with Degree X make $13,400 more on average than those without Degree X, Degree X must be worth $13,400." That ignores the queueing effect of education: give everyone without a diploma Degree X, and then give everyone who used to have Degree X another degree, Degree Y, and I suspect Degree Y will "be worth" a significant amount more than Degree X.

But I think Aaron is exaggering in claiming that more educational attainment has been accompanied by a reduction in good jobs. That implies a hamster-wheel dynamic between education and the economy (everyone just stays in place and sometimes slips back, depending on whether the hamster-wheel is moved), and I don't think that's right, either. Are there overpromises related to the effects of education? Absolutely. But there are still both individual and social benefits.

Aaron Schutz said...

Sherman, it's not that simple, of course. The return to a degree at Harvard has skyrocketed. But the return for degrees at all these little private colleges serving the working-class look much different. Like everything else in this country, we have an increasingly class-segregated system. As I understand it, on average the inflation adjusted return on a college degree is not what it used to be. In fact, I was told recently by instructors at our 2-year college that they joke that they are the graduate school for Milwaukee. They noted that more students go to tech school after college than to graduate school.

There may, of course, be other social benefits to college.

Duane Campbell said...

All those small private colleges serving the working class? What colleges are you talking about?
I was on a California Senate committee looking at data like this. While it may be accurate that a skilled auto mechanic needs to understand physics and algebra; it does not follow that this person needs to learn physics and algebra as taught in our schools,
Often skills and concepts can be learned by a series of practical applications. The Algebra Project has demonstrated this.
So, while the data may somewhat support the claim, we should not necessarily support the leap that therefore all students should be studying physics and algebra as taught in academic classes.

Robert Thompson said...

Colleges and Universities still lacking to play there complete and concrete roll in spreading education.

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Kine said...

I have a graduate degree from Harvard since 2004 and it hasn't returned much at all. I am quasi-unemployed right now and haven't been able to find high level or low level jobs. Made me smile when I read your comment about a return from a degree from Harvard as opposed to a small college.

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