Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis
Book Review by Pat Nellor Wickwire
Gordon, E. E. (2013). Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. (203 pages). ISBN-13: 978-1-4408-2933-8.
Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis intentionally released on Labor Day 2013 to place special emphasis on issues related to the current and growing mismatch of needed skills and available skills for employment in the United States. To plan, implement, and evaluate solutions for this mismatch of education and employment, the commitment, cooperation, and collaboration of all parts of American society are needed. Productive, successful education-to-employment paradigms and systems can be and are being developed.
In Future Jobs, Dr. Gordon presents well-documented information about the mismatch of needed and available job skills and proposes workable solutions to the education-to-employment dilemma. In the four major parts of the book, he addresses four major theme areas. The first part provides precise information with research data about current and projected employment, unemployment, and underemployment. This part also identifies and discusses contributing factors such as demographic, economic, work, careers, and other conditions and changes. For example, 66% of job openings through the year 2020 are projected to be replacements across all sectors of the economy for the 70 million retiring baby boomers. Equally daunting is the reverse of that statistic—that only 34% are newly created jobs.
The second part of Future Jobs stresses the current worldwide shift to a new talent era. The need for stronger continuing connection of jobs and skills requires the majority of workers to acquire and maintain high skills and career knowledge throughout their working lives. This is a matter of universal concern, as well as a matter of personal responsibility, for the creation of a lifetime of productive, successful, and rewarding employment.
The third part focuses on solutions to the jobs and skills disconnect, including education reform, business and government policy changes, and regional public–private partnerships. For this solution, Dr. Gordon has coined the acronym RETAINs—Regional Talent Innovation Networks. RETAINs bring together a region’s principal community players to formulate a vision to help to reinvent the education-to-employment talent-creation system. The main focus is to provide a good liberal arts education and good career information to students and their parents. RETAINs also help businesses furnish training to current workers, to ensure their future employment and to keep businesses competitive. These major initiatives focus on rebuilding the jobs pipeline that connects people to good jobs and careers over a lifetime. Future Jobs includes information about numerous successful RETAINs.
The fourth part includes potential policy solutions for both business and education. Dr. Gordon proposes significant improvements in the education and preparation of both teachers and principals. He states that schools need far more freedom to diversify their instructional content and teaching methods. This includes the comprehensive career academy model now being implemented at over 1,200 high schools across the United States. Future Jobs also includes analyses of recent international studies that help to point the way to better educational results for more students in community schools.
Future Jobs, with these four major theme areas, includes an abundance of content related to the profession of career development. As major actors in education and employment, career development professionals are actively engaged in “solving the employment and skills crisis.” First, specialists in career development utilize information about employment and the larger environment in assisting clients to make appropriate decisions. Second, they ensure that clients are aware, understand, and act upon the necessities and aspirations of job-skills match, changes in talent expectations, and participation in lifelong learning. Third, specialists in career development support and build upon community-wide linkages to produce stronger and expanded opportunities for employers and employees. Fourth, they engage in institutionalizing sequential learning for desired education and employment outcomes for educators, students, parents, and the wider community.
With wisdom, integrity, compassion, and determination, Dr. Gordon identifies and analyzes the issues, and proposes demonstrably workable solutions. He concludes: “As an optimist, I believe that American society’s greater flexibility and dynamism will prevail as in past eras. My hope is that Future Jobs will inspire people in many walks of life to take a proactive role in shaping that new jobs and talent era.”
Pat Nellor Wickwire, Ph.D., NCC, LEP, MFT, is President of the American Association for Career Education. She has served as Chair, NCDA Publications Committee; Editor, CACD Journal; Chair, ACA Council of Newsletter Editors; Chair, ACA Research and Knowledge Committee; Chair, International Career Association Network; and Advisory Council Member, ERIC-ACVE. She is a recipient of the NCDA Merit Award. Pat Nellor Wickwire and her contributions are recognized in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.
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