Millennial careers seen from 1983

I was at Davis Library on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill the other day, checking out a book on careers as metaphors, and on the shelf next to it, a title caught my eye — Emerging Careers:  New Occupations for the Year 2000 and Beyond.  I almost didn’t pick it up, until I noticed the date the book was published:  1983.

Emerging Careers was written by S. Norman Feingold (noted career author, who died in 2005) and Normal Reno Miller.  Feingold and Miller say that, in 1983, the “future is rushing toward us like an ocean wave, sending spray into the sky, crashing about us with astonishing force.”  They took that as motivation to look ahead — only 17 or so years at the time, but now more than a quarter of a century behind us.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the career areas they tagged as “the future” to see how they compare to what we’re experiencing today. Feingold and Miller dedicate chapters to the following areas:

  • Computer and Electronics Careers
  • Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Careers
  • Energy Industry Careers:  Oil, Natural Gas, Coal and Synfuels
  • Energy Industry Careers:  Solar, Hydro and Geothermal
  • Energy Industry Careers:  Solar Heating and Cooling, Conservation and Environmental Protection
  • Information Industry Careers
  • Ocean Industry Careers:  Ocean Mining, Off-shore Oil Production, Exploration and Research
  • Ocean Industry Careers:  Underwater Archeology, Aquaculture and Submersibles
  • Space Transportation Careers

At first blush, without doing any quantitative analysis, there are some areas that are clearly in the forefront of today’s economic discussions — computers, information, energy (especially “green tech”).  Again without research, it seems they may have missed the mark a bit on ocean-related careers and space transportation careers.

Although there certainly are careers in both, I’m not sure they are abundant enough to put them in the same category as the number of opportunities that exist with computers, information and energy. Instead, I think we can see more emerging careers in other sciences and in healthcare fields.

Nonetheless, the book was an interesting read.  In addition to contemplating their choices, the book made me realize the psycho-social effects of having a big round number bearing down on you.  Being on the precipice of a new millennium really put us into a “looking into the future” mindset.

Gary Alan Miller

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1 Comment

  1. garyalanmiller

     /  July 15, 2009

    Apparently they were not as far off on Ocean-related activities as I thought!


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