09 Mar Expanding job market predicted to shatter glass ceiling
CHICAGO – According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the recent downturn in the economy has had a considerable impact on working men as the industries traditionally dominated by men are reeling from the current recession. While college-educated women may be the biggest benefactors, will this lead to the disappearance of the glass ceiling?
Women now outnumber men when it comes to having a four-year college degree. This is significant because a growing number of jobs (even those in traditionally blue-collar industries) require advanced technical training or a college degree.
Just in excess of half (or 50.6 percent) of those holding bachelor’s degrees in 2007 were women. More important is that among individuals aged 20 to 29 – who are the future leaders in the workplace – women held more than 54 percent of the bachelor’s degrees, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Of those in their 40s, women held 50 percent of the bachelor’s degrees. Of those in their 60s, women held just 42 percent of the degrees. The importance of a four-year degree has not been lost on the younger generation of women. Considerably outpacing their male counterparts, more and more are attending colleges and universities.
This will undoubtedly expand opportunities for women as they make up a growing percentage of the skilled labor force. It’s also likely to lead to more parity between male and female pay. Figures on college enrollment indicate that the number of female graduates will continue to lead their male counterparts in the future.
When it comes to filling skilled positions in the future, employers will look toward the biggest and best-educated pool of workers. As the information suggests, this will be women.
Women, though, are still earning less than men for the same work. However, as women move to the forefront in the new economy, they will increasingly gain stronger bargaining power and that’s when we will see salaries rise. The occupations where women will likely experience the most gains are those that are expected to see the most growth.
High-tech professions – such as database administrators, computer support specialists and computer engineers – are all projected to grow.
These currently are the occupations that are in the most desperate need for skilled workers. The demand for workers will only increase as the number of jobs in these fields expands. This is primarily because the number of people with the specialized training required in these areas isn’t keeping pace with the job growth.
In addition to the significant gains women will experience in the historically male-dominated high-tech industry, professions that have been traditionally held by women will also experience dramatic growth in the years to come. Personal and home-care aides, medical assistants, paralegals and teachers have all ranked in the top 20 fastest-growing occupations.
The outlook for men, on the other hand (and especially for those without a college degree) isn’t very promising.
Many of the occupations and industries traditionally dominated by men continue to shrink in number. According to occupational projections by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the manufacturing, mining and durable goods industries are expected to fall significantly. Occupations such as tool and die makers, assemblers and machinists will see little to no growth or will even decline.
Additionally, the face of the workplace may very well change due to the recent collapse of the financial industry. This is a significant reason for the large number of men leaving the labor pool. When the economy turns around and hiring picks up, women will become a force.
Other traditionally male-dominated industries facing layoffs due to the economy include construction, manufacturing and technology.
These are all industries women are currently going to college to enter. The blue-collar jobs that do remain will increasingly require higher-skilled workers as technology continues to permanently alter these fields. Workers will need to constantly seek new training and will most likely be required to hold at least a two-year associate’s degree.
We will probably see more women in these occupations as well since the skills needed to work in computerized plants, distribution centers and garages will rely on brains versus brawn.
This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
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