I was watching the nightly news a couple of nights ago, and I came across a segment which sort of bothered me.
While these programs are pretty valuable for getting young people ready to join the workforce upon graduation, I think this is misguided. I don't think any child currently in middle school should be mandated to pick a career so early in their lives, especially when the job market is quickly evolving at a faster pace then ever before.
Though NBC failed to mention the name of this state government program in their newscast, it's actually the Building Resourceful Individuals to Develop Georgia’s Economy (BRIDGE) Act. The idea behind the BRIDGE Act is to prepare Georgia's middle and high school students for positions in the workforce after graduating high school, presumably in jobs that are needed to serve the state population. While this is obviously well intended, I think this is setting some students up for careers they are not suited for or may not be available to them upon graduation.
With the rapidly advancing pace of technology, many jobs which were once ubiquitous and thought to be necessary for decades to come have suddenly become obsolete or are quickly becoming obsolete. Granted, some positions, like the typesetter, switchboard operator, milkman, record store clerk, and full-service travel agent, have become or are quickly becoming relics of a bygone era. In fact, if you take a drive down the downtown area of my hometown you'll find numerous vacant and boarded up storefronts and weathed signs of once-thriving print and copy shops.
However, the rapidly changing pace of technology have decimated many once stalwart professions like manufacturing jobs, the newspaper and magazine industry, and even sales jobs related to those positions. And even white collar jobs have not escaped this. Many entry-level attorney, paralegal, and legal secretary/administrative assistant jobs have either been forced to evolve or have been replaced by online templates or outsourced to dirt cheap virtual assistants here in the USA and obviously overseas. Even many stockbrokers have been replaced by computer programs. These changes have been rather unsettling, and that's just the current employment landscape.
Some people are predicting that even more professions will become obsolete or drastically reduced in scope within the next ten years. Some of those jobs expected to disappear or be downsized are the following:
Toll booth operator
Call center operators
And the following are expected to be outsourced to cheaper third-world labor:
Assembly line workers
Some engineering jobs
Some graphic designing jobs
Customer service positions
But not all of this is bad news. Some positions are expected to proliferate dramatically in the near future thanks to natural demographic trends, like health care, real estate development related to retirement and assisted living, and morbidly enough, funeral industry positions from mortuary directors, cemetery/cremation services. and estate planning.
But while the rapid pace of technological change has cratered some industries, it has opened up numerous opportunities within the last ten years. Some of these hugely in-demand occupations did not exist ten years ago, like the following:
Search engine optimization experts
Social media managers
Green energy consultants
Mobile application developers
Now obviously some of these occupations are only expected to grow even bigger in the next ten years, and some occupations we haven't even imagined yet will become the next hot career for up-and-coming workers, particularly those in the healthcare, green energy, and technology sectors.
The question now becomes whether government, whether on the federal, state, or local level, has the vision to train or young people for these jobs of the future, or are they just wasting our money and our young people's time to train them for positions that won't be there for them once they graduate. Right now the signs aren't encouraging.