Changes in the World of Work

By Herald L. Carlston

Director, University of Utah Career Information Center

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    Once while visiting in a Church member’s home during a stake conference assignment, a General Authority asked a young boy, “What would you like to be when you are a man?”

    The boy answered, “I would like to be an inventor.”

    “My boy,” the General Authority said, “when you get to be a man, you will be a great inventor,”

    I met this young man when he was 33 years of age and was impressed with his achievements. He had become the chief experimental engineer for a large equipment company and had acquired 18 patents, with 15 applications pending at the patent office. As we talked about his interests, he told me about his experience as a youth. He stated that as he grew up, his family kept reminding him that he would become a great inventor. This encouragement, along with the words of the General Authority, had been a strong motivating influence in his life.

    The home is the natural setting for vocational development, for it is there that a child acquires the desire to want to work while he is exploring the career he wishes to enter. As a youth considers occupations for his life work, he will probably consider his interests and abilities, likes and dislikes, and how they relate to the job. He will also be wise to consider what the demand for the job will be in the future.

    The world of work is constantly changing today because of many scientific developments. During the past 25 years countless new fields of employment have opened up because of the computer, jet engine, atomic power, laser beam, prefabrication, synthetic materials, and other discoveries and inventions. Many new social services have been developed or expanded in such areas as rehabilitation, drug control, foster care, and pollution control. And we can be sure that many new scientific, social, and business developments will come forth in the future with an even greater variety of work possibilities.

    Some young people discover after training for a job that the skills they have gained have become obsolete in the world of work. Others learn that upon completing their training they have entered a segment of the job market where there are many applicants but few vacancies.

    As young people plan for their life work, they should be aware of how their work might be affected by economic recessions. For more than a decade preceding 1969, the demand for university graduates was at a high level. College recruiting brought hundreds of recruiters to campuses, and prospective graduates could have many employment interviews without leaving the campus. With a decline in the employment trend in 1969, however, there also came a decline in the number of recruiting interviews available, and competition for them became keen.

    Many elementary and secondary school teachers are finding it impossible to obtain teaching positions. Prospective college teachers in most fields are finding it extremely difficult to find employment for which they are prepared. Many engineering, business, science, and liberal arts seniors are being confronted With “No Vacancy” signs.

    Fortunately the business cycle also has its ups. Economists are now predicting that there will be a great upswing in our economy. By the time this year’s entering freshmen graduate from college, the demand for their services may again be at a high level.

    Many fields of employment are not adversely affected during temporary recessions. Demand has remained high for secretaries, retail trade workers, private household workers, bookkeepers, truck drivers, waiters and waitresses, hospital attendants, cooks, nurses, physicians, special education workers, accountants, social workers, and many others.

    While no one can accurately forecast the future, predictions can be made, through studying past trends in the job market, in terms of what fields look especially promising.

    Among the most significant changes that will occur in the labor force in the ’70s will be an increase in the number of white-collar jobs, slow increase in the number of blue-collar occupations, a sizeable increase among service workers, and a decline in farm workers. The accompanying chart from the U.S. Department of Labor depicts growth projections for various types of occupations.

    Occupation Growth during the 1970’s

    Occupation Growth during the 1970s (U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 1972–73 ed., Bulletin 1700.)

    In considering a career, a youth should not always decide against one just because it is not one of the most rapidly growing occupations. While growth is important, jobs are also created by deaths, retirements, or other factors.

    As jobs become more complex and require greater skill, employers seek people who have higher levels of education or training, and competition for the young man or woman who does not have adequate preparation becomes greater. And the less education and preparation a worker has, the less chance he has for a steady job. Thus, one of the top priorities of today’s young person should be to get as much training or education as his abilities and circumstances permit.

    In addition to gaining adequate training or education, young people can prepare to enter the job market by learning how to work at an early age, doing their best on every job they get, having secondary skills or abilities in case they have to fall back on them, and seeking vocational or professional counsel. Such counseling resources include high school counselors, employment security personnel, guidance departments at colleges, or the Church’s Educational and Career Advisement Center, A-152 ASB, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84601.

    The future employment success of our youth can be greatly influenced by the family, by individuals, and by priesthood and auxiliary leaders in the Church, but the basic responsibility rests with the young people themselves. It is they who will determine their destiny.