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March 02, 1984 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-03-02
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While Americans ponder how much
technology will change the work place of
the near future, another factor-a non-
technological one-promises to have as
stunning an effect on the job market: the
graying of America. More than 1,600 peo-
ple turn 65 every day and by the year 2035
the number of people over 65 is expected to
double. "There will be increasing numbers
of recreational, social and educational op-
erations directed toward older people-
even new sports and physical-fitness pro-
grams," says Dr. Robert Butler, former
director of the National Institute on Ag-
ing. "Improving the quality of their lives is
going to be big business."

That process has already started. In a
lab at the University of Southern Califor-
nia, researchers are trying to discover the
chemical mechanisms that control the way
people grow older-and perhaps alter the
process. On another floor, students are
training for careers in health care for the
elderly, while personnel officers from Gen-
eral Foods and Xerox are learning how to
prepare older employees for retirement.
Farther upstairs, counselors are advising
older people on how to deal with the raft
of problems-financial, emotional, sex-
ual-that accompany aging. This is USC's
gerontology program, America's first and
most comprehensive degree program on

treating the problems of older people.
Gerontology-the study of aging and
the problems of the aged-offers almost
unlimited career opportunities as the pop-
ulation ages. The American Institute of
Architects was recently granted $95,000 to
train architects in 'the construction of
buildings for the elderly. More schools and
colleges are starting "elder hostels" in the
summer-filling empty campuses with lec-
tures and seminars for older people.
Health clubs and travel agencies are re-
sponding with an array of special package
deals for older people.
Training: The educational system-as al-
ways-has been slower to respond. About
half of the nation's 126 medical schools
offer some training in geriatrics-the medi-
cal aspects of aging-but "a majority have
what I call a shadow program, one with no
real expert," says Dr. Richard Besdine, di-
rector of geriatrics education at the Hebrew
Rehabilitation Center in Boston. Besdine
estimates that only about 25 of those,
schools have serious programs in aging.
And only one-Mount Sinai in New
York-gives geriatrics a status equal to oth-
er medical specialties. "Medical education
hasn't made that leap forward yet," says
Butler, head of Mount Sinai's program.
"But it will because it has to."
For that reason, most of the jobs in the
field currently require undergraduate or
graduate training in gerontology rather
than an M.D. USC's program trains people
for careers in research and for service posi-
tions in public agencies or private enter-
prise. Graduates learn to counsel the aged
on legal and financial matters, sex and nu-
trition-with an emphasis on their special
problems. Butler sees openings for regis-
tered nurses more than tripling. And when
the medical schools are ready to respond,
there will be plenty of opportunities. Says
Besdine, who teaches at Harvard Medical
School, "I tell my students, 'If you don't like
old people, you'd better get out now'."

Generations of UVa students have come to
love the diner's vinyl-boothed interior
("Unromantic but colorful," says engi-
neering student Marta McWright) and its
mustard-colored storefront. They have
grown used to dropping in at any hour for
crab cakes ($3.50), pork chops (two for $4)
or a "grillswith" (two doughnuts, grilled,
topped with ice cream-$1.20). Students
have also become friends with Shiflett,
cook Elwood Breeden (who's been on the
night shift for almost 25 years) and wait-
ress Peggy Walker. Shiflett reports that
Walker's firm hand is especially useful
after midnight, when hungry crowds begin
playing with the mustard containers and
tossing ice cubes.
A Taste of the Grungy
Like other bars in the Palo Alto area, the
Oasis is decorated in standard college-town
style: shellacked wood tables, crew paddles
dangling from the ceiling, peanut shells
strewn on the floor ... in fact, says senior
English major Kathleen Crozier, "the
place is grungy. But you like to go to a
grungy place after a day in a sterile class-
room." The food is standard, too, running
mostly to hamburgers and beer. So why is
the O a Stanford landmark? One reason is
longevity. Originally part of a World War
I Army camp, later a stable, the place has
been serving Stanford students since 1933.
Another is that it provides a quick fix of
reality for Stanford students: "The place is
full of lowlifes," says Crozier. "We want to
see lowlifes once in a while-normal peo-
ple." Perhaps the best reason is the man-
agement's laissez faire attitude toward its
clientele. "We ask only three things," says
night manager Roger Moor ("No rela-
tion"): "You be 21, you don't throw stuff
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a lot of students where they want to go in the
near and longer term. Looking toward the
next decade, here are the prospects that
should be most pleasing to technophile and
Robotics: Forget those space meanderings
by R2-D2. These robots are down-to-earth,
and they're already starting to toil on the
assembly lines of automotive plants. The
Upjohn Institute for Employment Re-
search estimates that robots will provide
18,000 new jobs by 1990 in Michigan alone.
Economic recovery boosted robot produc-
tion 22 percent last year, as the United
States raced to catch up with heavily robot-
ized Japan. Cetron predicts that robotics
will offer 450,000 engineering jobs within
six years. A college background in comput-
er science, industrial or electrical engineer-

ing will be required. Companies badly want
exotic specialties. Prab Robots, a small
manufacturer, is hungry for applications
engineers who can identify new uses for
their product. Although liberal-arts majors
are not yet courted, their day will come.
Industrial psychologists may soon be need-
ed to help humans adjust to their mechani-
cal co-workers. There should also be room
in management and sales.
Biotechnology: This is another blue-sky
field with almost unlimited potential. The
first genetic-engineering firm was founded
just nine years ago; there are now at least
100 in business. The federal Office of Tech-
nology Assessment predicts that sometime
before the turn of the century, annual sales
of chemicals and drugs produced by gene-
splicing could top $15 billion. Cetron sees

some 250,000 jobs opening for genetic-engi-
neering technicians by 1990. Genentech, a
biotech pioneer, made 100 hires last year.
Its entry-level technical job, lab assistant,
requires a B.S. in biochemistry, microbiolo-
gy, biophysics or genetics; more elevated
jobs require master's or doctorates in sci-
ence, as well as lab experience. For the first
time, however, Genentech is now filling a
position that doesn't require extensive
scientific background: operator of its com-
puterized fermentation machines. Says em-
ployment manager Christine McKinley,
"We're looking for college graduates inter-
ested in technical work, who have had
experience working with equipment, are
very precise and able to keep records."
Medicine: Yesterday's scifi gadgets are
today's medical necessities, from laser sur-

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