Job field growing quickly

By Vicki Snow

The higher education system will need to produce different kinds of students to keep up with the changes in the population and economy over the next decade.

According to a study for the Illinois Board of Higher Education report, women and minorities continue adding to the work force and more skilled workers are in demand.

The study, “Promoting Economic Development,” is part of a report to determine how well state goals for higher education are being met. “Planning, Program and Budget Issues for Illinois Higher Education,” was presented at the Oct. 5 meeting.

By the year 2000, about 60 percent of Illinois adult women are expected to be employed. More women are working because of increasing job opportunities, more female-headed households and the need for two incomes to support a family.

More minorities also will enter the work force while the white population is expected to decrease. By the year 2010, 12 percent of the population will be Hispanic, 17 percent will be black, 4 percent will be Asian and 67 percent will be white.

The number of black and Hispanic people reaching working age is expected to rise while the number for whites will drop.

While the work force is becoming more more diverse in race and gender, it is also growing faster than any other age group.

“The working age population will increase almost twice as fast as the general population due to the maturation of the ‘baby boomers,’ declining birthrates, increased longevity, and the slowing rate at which young people are moving into Illinois,” the report states.

Although there are more workers in Illinois, the state’s population slowly is decreasing.

Since 1970, the population of Illinois has grown only 5 percent and is predicted to do so through the year 2000. On the other hand, the country’s population has increased by 22 percent over the past two decades.

By the year 2000, service industries-business, health, education and social service-“are expected to provide one-third of all jobs in Illinois over 40 percent of the new jobs available,” the report states.

Occupational trends show that the white-collar group, compared to blue collar, service, and agriculture/foresty/fishery, will bring the most new jobs.

Higher education needs to concentrate on its basic function of improving the education of Illinois’ diverse population, the report states.

“The bottom line for higher-education is to prepare new kinds of students for new kinds of jobs,” said Robert Wallhaus, IBHE Executive Deputy Director.

Education needs to keep pace with the changing demand for and the qualifications of the work force, he said.