What Will the Future Look Like?

Gary Wixom

Gary Wixom

What Will the Future Look Like?

The Great Recession has had an impact on the lives of American citizens that will be felt for a long time to come. Trillions of dollars of American wealth were lost and the impact on employment had disrupted plans of both the young and the old. According to a new study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, what was once a “lockstep march from school to work and then on to retirement no longer applies for a growing share of Americans.”1

In the past, most Americans completed their education, moved onto full-time employment, and then retired at age 65. The education phase of the cycle often was completed at the high school level, and after some on-the-job-training, full-time work was the norm. Today, a new model for this cycle is emerging that includes additional education, changes in employment patterns, longer full-time working careers, and often a transition into retirement.

The development of career pathways is being stressed at all education levels, and by the department of education, the department of labor, and the department of human services.

According to the Georgetown study, blue-collar jobs which used to be widely available have disappeared. As these jobs disappeared many young people have had a difficult time moving fully into the labor market. The labor market is changing rapidly. In 1980 the share of young people in blue-collar occupations was 54 percent.

In 2010 this number had decreased to 36 percent. In the year 2000 the employment rate for young adults was 84 percent and by the year 2012 that percentage had decreased to 72 percent. Young adults at all levels were negatively impacted by the Great Recession, but those who had some sort of postsecondary certificate of degree felt the impact the least.

So, how do we prepare for the world where the employment cycle is changing? First by becoming college and career ready while in high school, and then following a pathway that will lead to a certificate or degree, that leads to employment and a livable wage. The development of career pathways is being stressed at all education levels, and by the department of education, the department of labor, and the department of human services.

Become part of the career pathway movement and encourage students to think about their chosen career pathway and then to prepare by taking courses in high school that lead directly into the training that will be necessary to be successful. What the education and employment cycle turns out to be for the future depends partly on how well we prepare now.

1Anthony P. Carnevale, Andrew R. Hanson, Artem Gulish, Failure to Launch-Structural Shift and the New Lost Generation, Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Center on Education and the Workforce, September 2013.

Gary Wixom is the Assistant Commissioner for Career and Technical Education at the Utah System of Higher Education. This post was originally published on the UtahCTE.org blog. Find out more information about career and technical education on UtahCTE.org. Follow UtahCTE on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Read more from the CTE Directions Newsletter and sign up to receive a copy each month here.

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