Thursday, December 4, 2014

Trailblazers transition

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The Trailblazers blog is currently in transition, and will be revitalized in 2015 with a new layout.  In the meantime, check out the great work we've done this year on the following career clusters:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What's New in Media Jobs

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Broadcasting, filmmaking, multimedia, web journalism -- these are careers that lots of students are interested in today, but what are the job prospects in these industries? A new Spotlight report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a lot to say on what's happening with media jobs.

The media has been transformed significantly in recent decades. Technological innovations have enabled more people in more places to obtain and share ever-increasing amounts of information easily and rapidly. At the same time, methods of communication that were common a decade or two ago have declined sharply.

Industry Employment

The chart below shows what has happened to employment in some of the major media industry sectors over the past 20 years. Thousands of jobs were lost in old media industries, like newspapers, magazines, and radio, while thousands were added in new and revitalizing sectors, like software publishing, film and video, and the internet.

The graph below shows employment in the full range of the media industry since 1990 -- from publishing to broadcasting, to film and television. Overall, employment rose through 2000, but when the bubble burst in 2000-01, employment began to fall and has trended downward ever since.

While jobs have been added in the media industry, others continue to steadily decline. The charts below show how employment has changed in eleven important media sub-sectors. The first shows change from 1990 through the great recession of 2007-9. The second shows how sectors have changed since then.

Newspaper publishing took the biggest hit in both time periods, as readers fled print for television and recently the internet. The big growth in employment has come in the digital media sectors — software publishing, internet production and management, data processing and hosting, as well as film and video production, vast quantities of which are served up over the internet. It is interesting to see that since 2009, very few jobs are being created in the data processing and hosting sector. This is not because people are not using this service. Instead, job growth is slow because technology is becoming ever more efficient, and fewer people are now needed to provide more service.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics also tracks information about some of the many media-related occupations. The chart below shows total national employment in 13 of the major occupations, most of which are very small. Even the largest, writers and authors, employs only about 150,000 people nationwide. Contrast this with the nation's largest occupations — 3.4 million cashiers or 2.7 million registered nurses.

It is also notable that media occupations have high rates of self-employment. Nationwide, about eight percent of workers are estimated to be self-employed, but all of the media occupations tracked by the BLS have higher self-employment rates than this. And more than fifty percent of writers, photographers, and multimedia artists are self-employed. Students who hope to make a career in today's media industry should consider taking CTE business and entrepreneurship courses to prepare themselves for the realities of managing self-employment.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What Happens After Graduation? High School Graduates, College, and the Labor Market.

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About three million students graduated from American high schools this year and over 200,000 dropped out.  In Virginia we had about 90 thousand graduates and another six to seven thousand drop outs. What can we expect for these students over the next year?

Every October, the Census Bureau surveys recent high school graduates and recent dropouts to find out how they're faring. The 2012 survey shows that about two thirds of those who graduate from high school enroll in postsecondary education, and this is true for men and women as well as for Blacks, Whites, Asians, and Latinos. College enrollment has been rising for the last 50 years. In 1960, about 45 percent of recent graduates went on to postsecondary; last year, about 66 percent did.  

While the future success of those who go to college is not assured — college costs are high, graduation rates are too low, and jobs are still very competitive even for graduates — life looks much more promising for these students than for those who don't earn postsecondary qualifications. For example, high school dropouts are twice as likely to be unemployed as those with an associate's degree. And they're six times more likely to be unemployed than those with an advanced professional degree. Staying in school doesn't guarantee a job, but it sure helps.

Career and Technical Education students have a good track record of progressing to higher education. Last year's follow-up survey of Virginia CTE completers who graduated from high school in 2011 showed that 67 percent were still enrolled in a postsecondary program the following spring.

Job prospects are poor for most students who do not pursue postsecondary education, as illustrated in the two charts below. The first shows employment outcomes for students who graduated from high school in 2012 but did not enroll in college and the second shows the employment outcomes for students who dropped out of high school in 2012. The charts only report on civilians, not those serving in the military. Fewer than half of high school graduates who did not go to college had a job. A quarter of these graduates are unemployed and looking for work, and 30 percent are not even looking for a job. Employment outcomes for dropouts are even worse. Only a quarter of 2012 dropouts had a job, and three quarters are unemployed and looking for work or are out of the labor force entirely.

The scarring effects on youth who are out of the workforce for long periods of time can be extensive. Young people who miss out on the work experience because they reach working age during economic downturns may take decades to achieve the wages and occupational stability found by their peers who graduate during better economic times. While Career and Technical educators cannot remake the economy or create jobs for students out of thin air, offering programs that are closely articulated with the local economy goes a long way towards helping them find work after graduation.

Programs (like Certified Nursing, Cosmetology or Automotive Technology) that prepare students for jobs they might enter directly after graduation, need the strongest possible employer partners. Partners who are closely engaged with CTE programs trust that students are learning the skills they need and are more likely to offer employment to graduates. Close articulation with postsecondary education is also important for these and all other programs. The more experience students have with postsecondary education, and the more closely programs articulate, the more likely they are to progress to college.

Career and Technical Education can have a significant impact on the lives of potential dropouts as well. Research shows that strong career-focused programs improve graduation rates and may help rescue students from the poverty awaiting most of those who never earn a high school diploma. My next post will look at some of this research.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Modern Manufacturing

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I came across a video today that shows how very advanced,  advanced manufacturing has become. Take Wired magazine's 5 minute tour of the Tesla Motors plant to see where students with advanced manufacturing qualifications might be headed.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Some Myths About Education and Jobs (and a few truths)

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"Students have to get a STEM degree. Those are the only jobs that are going to be around in the future."

"Everybody has to get a bachelor's degree now. There just aren't any jobs for people without one."

We've all heard comments like this, but is it true? Does everyone need a bachelor's degree or to study science, technology, engineering or math nowadays? As with most myths, there's truth at the core of this idea, but there's a lot of exaggeration around it as well.

Here's some of the truth. STEM jobs tend to pay well; people qualified in these fields are less likely to be unemployed than others; and American colleges may not be graduating as many people with STEM qualifications as we need. And likewise, jobs for people with bachelor's degrees tend to pay well; people with this qualification are less likely to be unemployed than people without it; and over the long run we will need to increase college graduation rates. As a result, a STEM degree, indeed most bachelor's degrees, are good goals for students. But if everyone achieved these goals, many graduates would have to look for jobs outside their field or would be underemployed.

Competing Projections
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has produced employment projections for decades. The Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) introduced their competing projections series in 2010.  The CEW uses a different methodology and comes up with somewhat different pictures of how jobs will be distributed in our economy in 2020. For the purposes of CTE planning, however the similarities between the two systems are probably more important than their differences. Both groups estimate that the fields of sales, office support, blue collar  and food service are very large and predict that they will continue to offer numerous jobs in the future, though the STEM, health care, and other professional sectors are growing much faster. 

Both the BLS and the CEW also look at how much education workers will need. Here, the two groups come up with very different kinds of answers. The CEW estimates a much higher demand for education than the BLS and predicts continually rising demand for postsecondary education.
Here's the exaggeration. STEM jobs are not numerous, and the majority of jobs don't require a bachelor's degree. Even though demand for both is growing, they will remain in the minority for the foreseeable future. About four percent of all jobs are in STEM occupations and an additional five percent are in professional and technical healthcare occupations. Compare this to sales and office support occupations that provide about 27 percent of all jobs, or to the blue collar occupations that provide about 20 percent of employment. About a third of jobs today require a bachelor's degree and while demand for this qualification is rising, so is demand for associate's degrees and other technical qualifications.

The lesson from this is that our economy is diverse. Jobs exist, and will continue to exist, in a wide range of occupations. Consequently, even as CTE expands STEM instruction and prepares more students than ever to go on to a bachelor's degree, it is important not to sacrifice instruction in other CTE sectors as we do this.

new report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce provides new estimates of occupational employment, new projections of how employment across occupations is likely to change through 2020, and a new analysis of demand for education. Their research can help CTE formulate plans for courses to be taught and offer guidance to students about the education they need to pursue after high school.

Predicting job change

CEW has created national employment estimates and projections for ten major occupational groups. The chart below shows estimated 2010 employment in each group and the number of jobs expected to be added through 2020. Sales & office support occupations offer the most employment in 2010 and will still do so in 2020. The blue collar, food & personal services, and managerial & professional office sectors are also very large, expected to employ 25-30 million people each by 2020. The other sectors are all much smaller, and are expected to remain small, employing fewer than 10 million each.

For the most part, the small sectors are expected to grow faster than the large ones. Employment for health care professionals and technicians is predicted to increase by almost one third by 2020. The STEM, community services & arts, and healthcare support sectors are expected to grow by about 25 percent. Sales & office support, on the other hand, is expected to grow by about 12 percent, and the blue collar sector by only about eight percent.

Predicting Education Demand

The CEW makes projections of the demand for education as well as the demand for employment. The graph to the right shows their estimate of the distribution of jobs at each education level in  2010 and their projection of what will be needed in 2020. They estimate that in 2010 about 31 percent of jobs required workers with a bachelor's degree, 28 percent needed some college or an associate's degree, and 40 percent could be done by workers with a high school diploma or less.

Education requirements have been rising for decades and CEW predicts that they will keep rising. They anticipate that the number of jobs that can be filled by workers with a high school diploma or less will fall by about five percent, and the number of jobs requiring a bachelor's or higher degree will increase by a similar amount.

The graph below compares current and projected education requirements for 10 different groups of occupations. For each group it shows the rough size of employment in jobs requiring a high school diploma or less, some college/associate's degree, and a bachelor's degree. It also lists the number of workers needed at the bachelor's and higher level. The three largest occupational groups—sales & office support, blue collar, and food and personal service—require predominantly workers with some college education/associate's degree or less. For the most part, the other groups require workers with bachelor's or higher degrees.

Will Americans be able to meet the rising educational demands of 2020? The chart below compares CEW predictions of educational demand with data from the 2011 American Community Survey* on the levels of education already attained by all U.S. employees. These data suggest that, roughly speaking, we need to increase the total number of people holding associate's degrees and bachelor's or higher degrees by about three percent each by 2020. We have made gains like this within a decade before, but the CEW report suggests that it may not be so easy to do it this time. The report points out that "over time it is progressively difficult to increase the supply of workers with postsecondary education. Students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, minority students, adult learners, and nontraditional students often face practical obstacles to getting an education and are harder to train using conventional teaching techniques"(page 15).

Raising the college graduation rates may be the key to meeting the need for higher education. In 2011, about sixty percent of 19 years olds were enrolled in college. If they and students of succeeding years, could all stay in school and complete a degree, we would see a significant rise in the educational attainment levels of the workforce overall. However college graduation rates are way too low. Fewer than 60 percent of those who enroll in a 4-year bachelor's degree program complete within six years and only about 30 percent of those who enroll in a 2 year institution complete within three years.

*Accessed using the IPUMS USA online data analysis tool.

In-demand Certifications

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Employers in many fields look for new hires with industry certifications. These show that potential workers have specific knowledge that is in demand on the job, over and above the general knowledge and technical skills that they learned at school. A recent report, Carer and Technical Education: Five ways That Pay Along the Way to the BA, from the Center on Education and the Workforce, highlights some of the most in demand certifications. They created this list using online job postings data from Burning Glass.

Industry-based certificates are particularly in-demand in health care jobs, likely a result of the incentive to reduce risk in health care procedures. Certifications are also particularly popular in skilled trades and information technology.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How Much Do Virginia Graduates Earn

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Related Post:
New Wage Data from SCHEV
Download the full SCHEV Report:
 The Earning Power of Recent Graduates
When students think about going to college, they should also consider the earning potential of different college majors. College is expensive and requires an investment of time that could otherwise be committed to earning a living and advancing in an career. However, not all majors offer the same earning potential, and some may not repay the investment of time and money that students put into them.

New data from the State Council of Higher Education can help students anticipate the wage they are likely to earn if they graduate from a Virginia college and stay here to work. This post details earning by major. For more information on the SCHEV study and how to use the website where results are posted, read College Degrees and Wages in Virginia, New Data from SCHEV.