Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

The U.S. Workforce from 1960 to 2010: A RIASEC View

Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

The U.S. Workforce from 1960 to 2010: A RIASEC View

Article excerpt

Holland's (1997) RIASEC theory is generally recognized as one of the most important and influential in the field of counseling and career development. Foutch, McHugh, Bertoch, and Reardon (2014) sought to verify such an observation by using bibliographic research tools and identified all publications based on this theory from 1953-2011. They found over 1,970 reference citations to Holland's theory and applications, and categorized them in terms of practice, specific populations (e.g., K-12), instruments, diverse populations and theory. These citations appeared in 275 publications (e.g., books, journals, periodicals, reports) produced in varied professional fields and disciplines worldwide.

Many counselors know relatively more about Holland's RIASEC personality typology than corresponding environmental models (Reardon & Lenz, 1998). From the outset, Holland believed that the environmental aspects of the typology needed further examination (Weinrach, 1980). Occupations, fields of study or academic disciplines, organizations, leisure activities, and jobs (positions) are aspects of the environment included in the theory. In this article, we address the interaction between RIASEC theory and the environment by examining 2010 census data and updating prior studies of occupational employment in 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 in relation to RIASEC codes and Holland's theory (Reardon, Bullock, & Meyer, 2007).

Various people contemplating career decisions can benefit from understanding the scope and nature of the labor force and employment from this psychological, counseling-based point of view. Moreover, given characteristics of the contemporary U.S. economy, it is important to know how the distribution of jobs is changing over time. For example, the distribution of jobs across the RIASEC categories has changed from 1960-2010 in some ways, but not in others. An analysis of occupational employment, then, can be beneficial to counselors and career services providers assisting those who are unemployed, displaced or exploring the labor force. This work is important for both theoretical and practical reasons. For example, the number of annual job openings is strongly related to the number of people currently working in an occupation, so knowing the number employed is of practical importance in job hunting because of the need to replace workers.

Authors of recent literature have identified concerns about the use of outmoded concepts such as occupation in career/life counseling at a time of unprecedented socioeconomic change in the global economy. For example, Savickas et al. (2009) noted that new social arrangements for work and the digital revolution have led to unstable occupations and frequent job transitions for individuals: "Today, occupational prospects seem far less definable and predictable, with job transitions more frequent and difficult" (Savickas et al., 2009, p. 240). Sampson and Reardon (2011) summarized these ideas: "Occupations have changed in fundamental ways as technology and globalization have reshaped the workplace. Occupations have become fluid and organizations are evolving rapidly, adapting their workforce to respond to a rapidly evolving marketplace" (p. 41). We agree that some occupations are changing but conclude that the concept of an occupation remains common and useful in the social sciences as a way of categorizing work activities and employment.

In contrast to this view, Murray (2012) suggested that the workplace has not transformed for the 82% of American workers in occupations other than managerial professional positions. Teachers, police, plumbing contractors, insurance agents and carpenters have the same duties and routines that these occupations have always required, although some of the work tasks may have been affected by technology. Sampson and Reardon (2011) noted that the perception of massive occupational change has been exacerbated by inaccuracies in media presentations and the failure to use career theory to examine occupational changes. …

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