The Nature of Work – Maine Workforce Outlook 2012-2022

The Nature of Work – Maine Workforce Outlook 2012-2022

Excerpts from the Maine Department of Labor— January 2015

The nature of work increasingly demands higher levels of literacy and more sophisticated technology competencies.

The primary performance attributes of jobs in growing occupations are concentrated around critical thinking, problem solving, reading comprehension, effective communication, and decision making.

Those contrast with the primary work activities or knowledge requirements of occupations that are expected to have the highest rates of job loss, which include handling and moving objects, controlling machines, repairing and maintaining equipment, and clerical functions.

Growing Occupations: Critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, mathematics, reading comprehension, deductive reasoning, processing information, analyzing data

Declining Occupations: Machinery operation, equipment inspection, tool selection, physical strength, following instructions, manual dexterity, clerical functions…

Report after report over the last two decades from educational, trade, and other interest groups exhorted the need to educate more people for STEM* jobs. Many portray an impending shortage of workers in highly skilled, well-paying science, technology, engineering, and math based occupations. Most treat STEM jobs as a homogeneous group with similar growth prospects.

The problem with these characterizations is that there is a great deal of diversity of functions and an equally wide range in growth prospects not only between science and technology, for example, but also the range of occupations within sciences, within technology, within engineering, and within mathematics. The variety of STEM occupations creates very different growth prospects.

Under the Standard Occupational Classification system used by economic agencies to classify and count jobs there are 653 occupations in which there is employment in Maine and for which we have developed projections. Of that number, 181 occupations are designated as STEM by either the O*Net consortium or the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Collectively, the number of jobs in those 181 occupations is expected to rise 6.5 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is nearly three times the rate for all occupations. The expected gain of 6,800 jobs in STEM occupations accounts for 46 percent of expected net job growth.

Individually, 107 of those STEM designated occupations are expected to grow faster than average, another 13 are expected to grow more slowly than average, and 61 are expected to be unchanged or lose jobs. Like other types of functions, slowly growing or declining STEM occupations generally are those being impacted by new or changing technologies that are improving or replacing processes…

*Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics