Behind the Headlines Experts Note Some Bright Spots in Dim Career Picture for Jews
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Behind the Headlines Experts Note Some Bright Spots in Dim Career Picture for Jews

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Prospects for professional careers for Jewish college students are poor and likely to remain so for some time but there are a few bright spots in a generally dismal picture, in the view of three Jewish career experts here.

For example, while Dr. Walter Duckat, director of the guidance division of Federation Employment and Guidance Service, said public school teaching “is currently not recommended for Jewish youth,” he added that openings continued to develop to some degree in teaching learning disabled children and in vocational courses. In the latter field, he added, an applicant might have to wait some time for an appointment.

Elias Kagan, executive director of the New York B’nai B’rith Career Counseling Service office, said there are and will be public school jobs for persons qualified to teach industrial arts and business courses. He said persons qualified for early childhood teaching, particularly in day care centers, could count on openings if President Ford’s veto of funds for government-supported centers is reversed. He suggested that in the 1980s there may be a general shortage of public school teachers because so few are being trained now.


Declaring that there are job openings for podiatrists, chiropractors and veterinarians, Duckat said there also are openings in medically-related fields. American Dietetic Association-certified dieticians with a BA or Bachelor of Science degree are being placed, despite severe competition BA holders with certification in medical technology, involving four years of study, also can get placement. So can physical and occupational therapists with a four-year BS plus accreditations.

Dr. Alan Groveman, supervising counselor in the B’nai B’rith office, said many Jewish students are switching into business-related fields, including accounting, business administration and personnel work. Kagan said there are jobs based on mathematics training, including openings in some fields of engineering, accounting, architecture and actuarial work. Duckat said there even was a shortage of accountants in New York State. Kagan said opportunities for the few professional fields in which there still were jobs were better outside the larger cities and that, in response, a growing number of Jewish graduates are becoming more mobile, willing to leave their cities of birth and education to look for jobs elsewhere.


On the critical issue of whether the current gloomy outlook in the professional fields was transient or likely to endure, the three experts hedged. Duckat noted that some personnel experts have urged young people to re-direct their career expectations. He said the vocational fields were not crowded and generally required a smaller investment of time and funds for training but, he added, for many young Jews and especially their parents, such a shift in job goals and expectations link to automatic implications. Duckat declined long-range predictions but said that if there was no dramatic improvement in the American economy soon, it was safe to predict that professional career prospects for middle-class youth, particularly Jews, would remain grim.

Kagan said there may be a fundamental change in the capacity of the American economy to provide rewarding work for professionals and that major–and painful–changes in outlook may be required among American Jews to respond effectively. He predicted that in the 1980s the situation for white collar professionals would be very competitive while persons with technical skills would be in short supply.

Kagan agreed it was difficult to determine which professional category in which there is now oversupply reflects the recession and which reflects basic changes in the economy. He cited the decline in the American birthrate as a factor in the decline in the need for public school teachers. But, he said, the birthrate curve might turn up again. In general, he said, he was wary about hard and fast career generalizations about the future, declaring that basic conditions change and often change very rapidly.

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