Skills for the 21st Century

Cognitive and Literacy Skills for Success in a Fast-Paced Technological Age

Project:What Tech Skills ARE Needed for Low Skill Jobs?

Posted by durencls on May 21, 2010

So I did some more thinking about the “Is college necessary…” idea, and I had the following questions:

  • How good are the jobs that don’t need college? What do they pay? How desireable are they?”
  • What kind of technology  skills do these ‘no-college’ jobs require? (Both “hard tech” skills and tech-related meta-skills?)”
  • “Thinking about the current buzz phrase  ‘career pathways,’ what are the next steps up from these 30 fastest-growing jobs? What skills/training would you need to get ahead?”
  • “How accurate is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ assessment of the training required for these jobs? How will the training requirements (or tech requirements) likely change in the next 10 years?”

Oh goody! A mini-research project! (Yes, I’m strange like that!)

So I started by taking a closer look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 30 occupations with the largest employment growth, 2008-18 document.  It was already pointed out that only 7/30 of those jobs required a Bachelor’s degree or higher and that 12 only required short-term on-the-job-training. (This would seem to validate the “college isn’t always necessary” opinion of before.)

Let’s take a look at those 12 “short-term on-the-job-training” jobs. How desireable do these look to you? And what do you think the pay rate is like?  The ‘career pathways’?:

  • Child care workers
  • Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food
  • Home health aides
  • Landscaping and groundskeeping workers
  • Office clerks, general
  • Personal and home care aides
  • Receptionists and information clerks
  • Retail salespersons
  • Security guards
  • Teacher assistants
  • Truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer
  • Waiters and waitresses

Hmmmm…seems to me that many of  these are the jobs that our adult literacy education students are trying to get OUT of (if they are employed).  Low paying, boring or pretty grueling – not attractive at all. But I thought I should check – what is the current pay rate for truck drivers, anyway? I found the May 2009 wage data for these jobs (national averages, also from the BLS), and then I build my OWN comparison  chart. Take a moment to look this over (pdf format):

Comparison of salaries and training for the 30 occupations with the largest employment growth, 2008-18

I sorted this by training, using the code #s from the BLS’ Measures of Education Training (which, BTW, starts to answer the “how accurate is this info” question), and then within each training type, by average annual salary.  I also ranked the jobs by # of jobs predicted over the 10 year period – in essence  “who is growing the fastest?”

Looking this over, I was mildy surprised to see how much you could earn (again, on average nationally) at a job that requires only short-term, on-the-job-training.  Now I live in Tennessee, where cost of living is pretty low – 9th lowest overall, nationally – but several of these jobs are in the over $25,000 range annually and several of those with moderate-term on-the-job-training are in the over $30,000 range – higher than I expected.  Well, that’s a national average, and includes both entry level folks and those with many years…

I also noted, however, that many of these jobs are those targeted by “certificate programs” and “vocational training schools.”  This tells me that while you CAN get the job without training, it is likely *easier* to get it if you do have training.

But by now I am just WAY more interested in doing some further research – testing the “validity” of the BLS information against reality, and finding out what kinds of skills ARE needed in these jobs. And thus a PROJECT is born!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll research “reality” for several of these jobs* – tech skills needed, training needed, and even look at the ‘career path options’ and skills needed to “move up.” My plan is to research locally – interview folks I know in these professions, as well as online and post my findings for roughly one job category a week.  My current plan is to investigate these jobs from the list:

  • Child care workers
  • Landscaping and groundskeeping workers
  • Office clerks, general & Receptionists and information clerks
  • Personal and home care aides & Home health aides (as well as Nursing aides, LPNs, & RNs)
  • Teacher assistants (as well as Elementary school teachers)

Please feel free to chime in via comment or e-mail – add what you know about these or other professions on the list, and perhaps, collaboratively, we can produce something very useful for the field of adult education (if not the NATION!)

Next week – Child Care Workers.

*Please note that this will not be empirical research, but rather anecdotal/”light” research – for the purposes of discussion and/or inspiring more rigorous research projects.

Advertisements

One Response to “Project:What Tech Skills ARE Needed for Low Skill Jobs?”

  1. Susan WB said

    Hmm… I can say from experience that some of these jobs pay better than what adult literacy instructors get! I had students who worked in gardening/landscaping and made better money than I did. Of course, they also worked 60 hrs a week in a physically demanding job. So I think they probably deserved it. It’s probably more a commentary on how bad pay is in our line of work, than it is a commentary on how good the pay is in these “low-skill / high-demand” jobs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: