KANSAS CITY, MO — Reports of layoffs dominate business news whenever the economy takes a dip. But the long-range employment picture is brighter, especially for those who can combine specialized training with people skills.

That could summarize aspects of a report issued by SkillsUSA-VICA in conjunction with its annual Skills Championship here.

“Today, there is a shortage of skilled workers,” the report said. “And, those that have technical skills may lack personal skills such as dependability, teamwork, communications, and customer relations.”

However, when you bring technical skills and good personal skills together into a total package, companies could come looking for you.

They apparently need you. In the manufacturing sector alone, a survey found that 63% of those companies are lacking employees with essential “employability” skills.

Following are some statistics compiled from the U.S. Department of Labor and listed in the SkillsUSA report.


The population and labor force will continue to grow in the remaining five years of a 10-year reporting period that ends in 2006.

The number of people in the labor force is projected to increase by 15 million in that 10-year period, reaching 149 million in 2006.

Labor force growth is slowing because population growth is slowing. As the Baby Boom generation ages, the age distribution of the labor force will continue to shift upward.


The economy is expected to continue present trends and generate jobs at all levels of education and training through 2006. Most of the projected employment increases will continue to be in the service-producing sector of the economy.

Total employment is projected to increase by 18.5 million, from 132.4 million to 150.9 million (including wage and salary, self-employed and unpaid family workers). The projected 1.3% annual average rate of growth is slower than the 1.7% growth from 1986 to 96.

About one-third of the occupations with the largest numerical job growth require post-secondary education or training. In most occupations, job openings result from the need to replace workers who leave to enter other occupations, retire, or leave the labor force rather than from employment growth.

During 1996-2006, over three-fifths (32 million) of the 50.5 million projected job openings will come from replacement needs compared to new openings (18.5 million).


Employment in service-producing industries will increase faster than average, with growth near 30%.

Computer and data processing services will add over 1.3 million jobs from 1996 to 2006. The 108% increase is due to technological advancements and the need for higher skilled workers. The high percent increase makes this the fastest growing industry over the projection period.

Of the 50.5 million job openings projected, 22.5 million (44.5%) are in four occupational groups: technicians and related support occupations; service occupations; precision production, draft and repair; and operators, fabricators and laborers.

Publication date:09/03/2001