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March 02, 1984 - Image 22

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-03-02
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The High- Tech Pa iff
As machines replace many routine jobs, new worlds will open for people who think.
he future used to look like a pretty jobs for the '90s will require college gradu- this June (and maybe double that number
*good place to be. A now-forgotten ates who display not only technical mas- in 1990); L TV Aerospace and Defense Co.
writer named W. Parker Chase tery, but the ability to think and manage will visit 66 campuses by the end of the
was no more wild-eyed than many creatively. Forecaster Naisbitt even spots a school year in search of 200 new employ-
of his contemporaries when he predicted, in coming demand for "high touch" special- ees. Most of these jobs are strictly techni-
1932, that within 50 years "buildings will ists-the likes of artists, dance therapists cal, to be sure, but there are already some
be 250 stories in height, and vacuum-tube and pastry chefs-who can help humanize a signs of spillover. NASA's Johnson Space
escalators will whisk tenants upwards at a stressful high-tech world. Center is taking on undergraduate business
speed surpassing all imagination . . . Peo- This spring's graduates can already see and liberal-arts majors as interns, training
ple will be fed on concentrates, and some the shape of things to come. The nation's them for personnel, procurement and oth-
young high-school genius will have dis- economic recovery has brightened overall er administrative tasks.
covered a serum which perpetuates life." job prospects since last year, according to The now-and-future kings of thejob mar-
Chase was wrong on just about every the two most authoritative campus meas- ket will probably be those who understand
count, as we can certainly testify; there's ures-Northwestern's Endicott Report both science and art: engineers who can
still not a robot in every kitchen nor a and Michigan State's annual analysis of write, writers who can program. Such para-
jetpack in every garage. Nevertheless, his recruiting trends. Even neglected liberal- gons are already sought by fast-track firms
technological tomorrowland seems a little arts majors find a warmer welcome this like Microsoft, a leading creator of comput-
closer all the time. Home computers- year; some banks and corporations now er software. The best bet for success in a
smaller, cheaper and far more power- regard them as more malleable and less computer career, says Microsoft recruiter
ful than the behemoth UNIVAC's that costly than M.B.A.'s (page 8). High-tech Chris Grimes, is "a technical person with
spawned the computer age 33 years ago- companies have rebounded more swiftly fine communications skills." Public-spirit-
were among the biggest-selling gift items than any others, however, and so have ed folks who can also crunch numbers will
for Christmas '83. And in the workplace, high-tech specialties; Endicott says that be more and more popular with overbur-
says John Naisbitt, author of the best-sell- demand has jumped 28 percent for com- dened local governments, says Lee Koppel-
ing "Megatrends," the thinking machines puter grads and 21 percent for engineers man, executive director of the Long Island
will soon be so ubiquitous that all employ- since 1983. Computermaker Hewlett- Regional Planning Commission. In even
ees will need to be trilingual-speaking Packard expects to hire 1,500 collegians the most arcane specialties, broader knowl-
English, Spanish and computer.
Now that the future is almost here,
many people don't quite know what to make
of it. Some view the brave new world of
high tech with fear or downright loathing.
Callit technophobia, if you will. "When you
get into the mind of man, he wants homeo-
stasis-comfort and predictability," says
Mortimer Feinberg of BFS Associates, a
consulting firm that specializes in organ-
izational psychology. "When something
comes in which is fast-moving and unpre-
dictable, he gets bewildered by the ambigu-
ity." Nowhere is that bewilderment more
paralyzing than among students who are =
trying to launch careers: how can we possi-
bly plan, they ask, when we don't under-
stand what all this machinery means?
Take heart, job hunters. Technology
needn't be threatening. In fact, say many
experts, the odds are good that high tech
will pay off with myriad new opportunities
in the next quarter century-not only in the
technical fields themselves, but in every
other area of the economy. In a kind of
trickle-down effect, the spread of technol-
ogy will create openings for software writers
as well as engineers, occupational counse-
lors as well as computer programmers,
teachers as well as technicians. Humans of
many disciplines will be needed to design
the machines and make them function. As
the hardware grows in sophistication,
moreover, so will manpower needs; many

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