Why some occupations grow while others fade


September 24, 1990|By Joyce Lain Kennedy | Joyce Lain Kennedy,1989 Sun Features Inc.

WHY DO SOME occupations grow rapidly while others fall by the wayside? To focus on reasons -- and thus help with your personal career planning -- let's start with a quiz. Is the following statement true or false?

Six factors account for most of the changes in industrial staffing patterns. They are:

* The explosion of computers and technology

* Changes in business practices

* More spending for research and development

* Demographic (population) trends

* Changes in how medical care is delivered

* Trends in law and government rules

The statement is true. Many of the anticipated changes in the way America works is due to the increasing importance of workers who gather and use information and to the decreasing need for those who do repetitive tasks that can be automated.

Two of three jobs are replacement jobs -- not new jobs. Even so, the nature of work is changing and that fact is reshaping the face of certain industries by altering the occupational mix.

In the summer issue of the Occupational Outlook Quarterly, projections for specific occupations appear -- those going up and those going down. (A copy of the issue is $2, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9th Floor, 230 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, Ill. 60604.) Here are highlights.

To no one's surprise, people who can talk back to computers -- programmers, systems analysts and repairers -- will continue to be in demand throughout the '90s. But while programming jobs are among the fastest growing, so are all the numbers of college graduates in computer science.

Although automation and technological change tend to cut the size of production occupations, some grow from such change. Numerical, tool and process control programmers will get a boost relative to other production occupations because the use of numerically controlled machine tools will grow.

Changes in business practices from heightened competition and the resulting pressure to whack costs will cause a relative gain for cost estimators, economists, statisticians, administrative services managers, industrial production managers, operations research analysts and management consultants.

Other lines of work showing a pickup in employment during this decade include actuaries, bakers, correction officers, electronics engineers and technicians, farm managers, management consultants, medical record technicians, meteorologists, millwrights, operations research analysts, paralegals and surgical technologists.

Occupations affected by downward changes include physician assistants, public relations specialists, title examiners, meter readers, payroll clerks, EKG technicians, broadcast technicians, brokerage clerks, data entry keyers, dental laboratory technicians, electronic equipment assemblers, podiatrists, nuclear engineers, proofreaders, stenographers, word processors and typists.

It pays to look ahead at future job patterns. Architects, for instance, face not only slowed construction but increased competition from architects trained in Europe and Japan. A good source of data is Joyce Slayton Mitchell's new book, "The College Board Guide to Jobs and Career Planning" (Macmillan). Its plain vanilla format delivers information fast.

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