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Four trends will alter the way the education and training system and other human resource agencies will do business. Themes that reflect them are captured in four words: flexibility, quality, diversity, and scope. The reaction to the current economic downturn remains one of flexibility. Flexibility has emerged as the way in which employers look at the work force. Temporary help is the most visible of flexibility practices; others are contracting out, employee leasing, home-based work, and self-employment. Other evidence of a just-in-time work force are hours, compensation practices, and benefits. U.S. companies still in business know about quality and are more and more concerned about the quality of their workers. The message is that quality is tied to survival in the marketplace, work force preparation, the education and training system, and government-business cooperation. The United States is faced with a set of demographic imperatives that spell an increasingly diverse work force: an aging work force, increasing feminization, and a growing minority share. The basic driver transforming the face of industry is the continued shift from goods to services. A new emphasis on downsizing changes temporary situations into permanent reductions in job prospects. These themes provide the challenge: to focus on the future but not to the exclusion of fixing today's problems and to design institutions to meet the challenge in a way that ensures the flexibility so important to growth. (YLB)

Descriptors: Aging (Individuals), Career Education, Cultural Pluralism, Dislocated Workers, Employment Practices, Employment Projections, Females, Futures (of Society), Job Training, Labor Force Development, Labor Market, Labor Needs, Labor Supply, Minority Groups, Postsecondary Education, Quality Control, Reduction in Force, Secondary Education, Supply and Demand, Unemployment, Vocational Education

Autor: Plewes, Thomas J.


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