Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Know What the Job Demands

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Know What the Job Demands

Article excerpt

As you look ahead to your summer break from the classroom, if you have one, consider using this time to get into the workplace and take a close look at the jobs and the job field for which you are preparing your students. Some of you automatically put in time at your trade or craft in the summer. There is no more valuable way to spend a few months of your time.

Vocational educators know that the jobs for which they prepare students are ever changing, as new materials, tools and processes are introduced into the workplace. And the media also remind us almost daily that work and jobs in every field, from dentistry to manufacturing to information services, are dynamic. You can be certain that a job today will not be the same tomorrow.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the impact of technological advancements in the workplace. Of course, it cuts both ways, as the paper illustrated: For years, computers weren't used effectively by business; they merely were adapted to old work methods, "such as replacing a typewriter with a computer--essentially paving the cow paths."

"But now, more and more companies are learning to use computer networks to cut out work altogether instead of simply doing it faster," allowing one insurance company, for instance, to eliminate 1,000 workers, 17 percent of its work force, by installing a switching system that moves customer phone calls to the nearest open claims office.

"Similarly, companies such as Apple Computer Co. have eliminated most of their receptionists with voice mail and pagers; AT&T has used computer-based automation to cut its long-distance operators to 15,000 from 44,000 in the past decade. Automated teller machines and bank-by-phone computers have enabled banks to slash the ranks of tellers to 301,000 last year from 480,000 in 1983."

On the other side of the coin, the newspaper reported that "United Parcel Service of America Inc., for example, now has 3,000 information-technology employees, up from 90 in 1983. At many companies, more technicians will be needed to service computer networks, and more programmers to write software."

This is why it is so important, if your job is to provide instruction to students, to have absolutely current knowledge in the occupational areas for which you have responsibility. Only by renewing your familiarity with the workplace can you stay up to date with that dynamic--to verify that what you are planning for the next school year is relevant in every respect to today's workforce. …

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