Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

A Holland Perspective on the U.S. Workforce from 1960 to 2000

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

A Holland Perspective on the U.S. Workforce from 1960 to 2000

Article excerpt

The authors analyze civilian occupations and employment data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1960, 1970,1980, 1990, and 2000 with respect to 6 kinds of work (Holland's RIASEC [Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional] classification), employment, and gender. For the 1990 and 2000 censuses, kinds of work, gender, and income are analyzed, and for the 2000 census, kinds of work, age, and gender are examined. Past employment trends developed from census data are further analyzed with respect to Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections through 2012. Implications for further research, employment policy, and career services are offered.

Holland's (1997) typological theory specified a theoretical connection between vocational personalities and work environments that makes it possible to use the same RIASEC (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional) classification system for both persons and jobs. Use of the typology enables individuals to categorize their interests and personal characteristics in terms of the six types and combinations of the types. In Holland's theory, persons can be categorized as one of six personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, or Conventional. In a similar way, the environments of college campuses, fields of study, work positions, and occupations can be classified using the same RIASEC system.

Holland's RIASEC typology has become a common tool for classifying persons and environments in career guidance and counseling. It is now incorporated into the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a comprehensive database that provides information about 975 occupations, worker skills, and job training requirements. O*NET, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (U.S. Department of Labor, 1998), is the primary source of U.S. occupational information, and its data are included in many computerbased career information delivery systems (e.g., Choices Planner, Career Information System). Moreover, most career assessment instruments for individuals report scores based on Holland codes because this has become a standard method for linking persons and occupational alternatives (e.g., Self-Directed Search [SDS; Holland, 1994], Strong Interest Inventory [SII; Strong, 1994], Kuder Career Search With Person Match [Zytowski & Kuder, 1999]).

Given the extensive use of the RIASEC typology in career guidance services, we believe it is important to examine the actual distribution of jobs in the U.S. economy. Persons contemplating career decisions could benefit from understanding the scope and nature of jobs in the economy. Are there income, gender, or age differences across these six areas? Moreover, we think it important to determine whether the distribution of jobs is changing as a result of various socioeconomic developments. For example, has the distribution of jobs in RIASEC categories changed in the past 50 years? An analysis of occupational employment, then, could be beneficial to career counselors and other career services providers.

Downes and Kroeck (1996) reported discrepancies between existing jobs and a person's vocational interests. Using SDS normative data from the 1994 edition for both high school students and adults, together with employment figures for the 292 occupations listed in the June 1993 issue of the Monthly Labor Review, the authors reported a lack of person-environment match with respect to some individual interests and employment. For example, they reported low interest in the Enterprising and Conventional areas relative to the large number of jobs for both high school and adult groups. However, the two norm groups differed in their interest across the six RIASEC areas. For example, high school students showed little interest in the Realistic area, in contrast to adults, who had more interest in this area.

Beginning in the early 1970s, researchers began to examine the U. …

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