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Outlook Bright in Engineering, Computer and Health Fields, U. S. Says

November 19, 1987|RANDOLPH E. SCHMID | Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — Engineering, computers, business services and health professions continue to provide the nation's top job prospects, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Those areas have the best long-term career outlook for young people planning ahead, said Neil Rosenthal, chief of the department's Occupational Outlook Division.

"The service industries are the ones that are growing, especially the business services such as accounting firms and legal services," Rosenthal said.

Indeed, overall service businesses have grown faster than goods-producing operations in recent years as rising incomes and living standards have helped produce demand for service workers.

And at the same time, while imported goods have captured a share of the market for American-made products, the same has not occurred in the service business field to any great extent.

A Labor Department analysis of expected trends, in fact, calls for as many as nine out of 10 new jobs between now and 1995 to be in the service sector of the economy, rather than in manufacturing or other goods-producing activities.

Service occupations cover a wide range of employment, ranging from the lawyers and accountants mentioned by Rosenthal to cleaning people, security guards, fire, police and corrections officers, bartenders and waitresses.

Health workers were also selected for special mention by Rosenthal, a category that covers not just doctors and dentists but also nurses, health technicians, dietitians, pharmacists and therapists.

"Employment in most of the health occupations is expected to grow faster than the average as the population growth--especially in the number of older people--increases the demand for health care," the Labor Department analysis said.

Registered nurses, nursing aides and orderlies are expected to be among the leading new job categories. Strong growth is also expected for physician's assistants, medical record technicians and medical assistants.

Automation, however, may reduce some of the growth among laboratory technologists.

Computer systems analysts and engineers are also expected to see strong job growth, Rosenthal said.

These groups will benefit from growing automation in many areas of the economy, the department said. And general research is expected to offer more jobs for scientists.

Technicians who assist engineers and others should also see good job growth, although changing technology can affect the prospects in some specific areas.

"Employment of travel agents, security, sales workers and real estate agents is expected to grow faster or much faster than average," the department said.

Many full- and part-time jobs are also expected to open for cashiers and other retail workers as well as for bookkeepers, accounting clerks, secretaries and shipping and receiving clerks. Again, however, improved office machines could limit some of this growth.

As offices add new machines to their inventories, prospects for repair technicians could improve, but the department warns that machines with better reliability could reverse that.

Other repair workers, such as auto mechanics, should see their job prospects improve at the same rate as population growth, the department said.

But the job outlook looks better than average for construction workers, with household and business growth and modernization expected to create new opportunities.

Construction employment is very sensitive to changes in the national economy, however, the department said.

Another field where job growth is expected to be strong is social services, the department said, but it cautioned that "due to the number of people interested in these fields, competition for jobs is expected in many occupations--especially for academic positions . . . social and recreation workers in public and voluntary agencies as well as for salaried positions for lawyers."

Declining enrollment and an abundance of qualified job-seekers is expected to create problems in finding college teaching jobs, and employment growth for high school teachers is expected to be slow. Rising enrollment should improve prospects for grade school teachers, however.

Reasonable job growth is expected in advertising, public relations and print and broadcast communications. However, "stiff competition for jobs in these occupations is likely, due to the large numbers of people they attract."

The best prospects for writers and editors are expected to be in business and trade publications.

Employment is expected to decline in most agricultural or forestry occupations. And growth is expected to be slow in production jobs, where industrial robots and other improved technology will reduce the need for human workers.

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