JITE v36n2 - Contingent Employment and Alienated Workers

Volume 36, Number 2
Winter 1999


David C. Bjorkquist
University of Minnesota
Jaap Kleinhesselink
University of Twente

Wirth ( 1992 ) asked whether modern day workers are to be architects or bees. Are they to function as creative, inquiring persons of dignity or as parts of rationally controlled production systems? Rinehart ( 1987 ) theorizes that control over the organization of work and the purposes for which it is undertaken have alienated workers. "[Workers] feel that the basic reason for working is to maintain themselves and their families in order to do the things they really enjoy. "Life for these people begins when work ends" ( Rinehart, 1987, p. 7 ). Can contemporary work command a place of respect in the minds of workers?

The relation between workers and their work has been a concern through much of recorded history. Homer of Greece, citizens of Rome, and early religious leaders taught the values imparted by work to workers ( Kaiser, 1966 ). During the Renaissance ( Best, 1973 ) and the Christian reformation ( Calvin, 1851 ; Luther, n.d. ) work was advocated as a means of uplifting and ennobling humans in ways that other activities could not. Today, work for work's sake is no longer justifiable and work is not an end, but a means to an end ( Widdrington, n. d. ). Social, psychological, and spiritual questions about the purposes of work and the benefits to workers seldom rise above economic issues of wages and benefits, productivity, profitability, and earnings. The importance of workers as consumers has become equal to or greater than their value as producers ( Ginzberg, 1982 ).

Worldwide, many firms have changed the expectations for and procedures of work for the stated purposes of increased productivity and competitive advantage ( Sacco, 1993 ). One result has been a steady decline since World War II in unit of labor required per unit of manufacturing output with offsetting increases in unit of input of information and knowledge required ( Drucker, 1995 ). "Smart machines" ( Zuboff, 1988 ) used in most types of enterprises have reduced labor input.

Many employers have concluded that new forms of relationships with workers would be advantageous to businesses and have hired workers with specialized talents for short periods of time or for specified projects (e.g., Feldman, Doerpinghaus, & Turnley, 1994 ; Messmer, 1994 ). The productive capacity of the organizations hiring on this basis may be better measured by the availability of timely, applicable talent than by the presence of workers at a job site. In much the way that materials and services are purchased, producers want to have the advantage of buying specialized worker talents just-in-time ( Button, 1993 ). That is, to draw on a supply of worker talent, a contingent workforce, at the time that it is needed. Most workers, already facing a future devoid of "lifetime employment" ( Drucker, 1995 ), are further removed from the control of their work; further alienated for the gain of employers.

Given the presence of contingent work and its potential for alienating workers, the purposes of this article are to: (1) describe contingent employment in the United States and Europe; (2) identify major consequences of contingent employment for workers; and, (3) suggest needs of contingent workers that can be met through work preparation.

Contingent Employment

According to a United States Bureau of Labor Statistics definition, "Contingent work is any job in which an individual does not have an explicit or implicit contract for long-term employment" ( Polivka, 1996a, p. 3 ). It is practiced in all fields of work and at all occupational levels of private and public sector employment.

Contingent workers, often hired through an agency and placed in a client firm as non-regular employees, are known by several terms: temporary workers, short-term hires, independent contractors, leased employees, non-standard workers, complementary workers, free lancers, consultants, adjunct faculty, and contract workers ( Pranschke, 1996 ). Contingent employment differs from part-time employment although contingent employees may work part-time. Contingent employment is widely practiced in the United States (U.S.) and Europe.

In Spain, 70 percent of 372,000 new jobs in 1995 were for contingent workers. In 1995, 20 percent of the French workforce was in temporary or part-time jobs ( Templeman, Trinephi, & Toy, 1996 ). In Great Britain, since 1984, about 10% of the public workforce and 7% of the private sector workforce has been contingent ( Sly & Stillwell, 1997 ). In The Netherlands, during the second quarter of 1997, those employed via temporary agencies worked 85 million hours or the equivalent of 165,000 full-time jobs in a labor force of 6.6 million workers ( Statistics Netherlands, 1997a & 1997b ). Carrns ( 1996 ) contends that the growth in the number of U.S. contingent workers was four times as fast as employment overall. Button ( 1993 ) reported that temporary employment in the U.S. grew 10 times faster than permanent employment in the 1980's and 20 times faster in 1993 alone.

The number of agencies placing contingent workers provide further evidence of the phenomenon. Over 1,500 temporary employment agency offices facilitate contingent employment arrangements in The Netherlands ( Krol, 1993 ), a nation of 15.6 million people ( Statistics Netherlands, 1997b ). Since the early 1980's, the number of agencies in the U.S. placing contingent workers has grown from about 100 to nearly 1,500 ( Feldman, et al., 1994 ). Temporary employment agencies such as Manpower, Inc. and Kelley Services, Inc. expanded 10 times faster than overall employment between 1982 and 1990 ( Judd & Pope, 1994 ). Hippel, Mangum, Greenberger, Heneman, and Skoglind ( 1997 ) estimate that the U.S. temporary services business has grown 360% since 1982.

What has become in the U. S. a recognized and largely unchallenged form of employment has been questioned within the European Community (EC).

In particular the challenge is how to develop or adapt policies which support, rather than hinder, fundamental organisational renewal and how to strike a productive balance between the interests of business and interests of workers, thereby facilitating the modernisation of working life. An essential objective is to achieve such a balance between flexibility and security throughout Europe. ( Employment & Social Affairs, 1997 )

Finding a just solution in the relationship between the interests of business and the interests of workers is given a new twist by contingent employment. The European debate is informative. Among member states of the EC, contingent work is accepted in highly varying degrees. It is prohibited in Greece, Italy, and Spain and stringent regulations severely limit contingent employment in France, Portugal, Belgium and Germany. In Belgium, for example, contingent workers can replace employees who are ill, on vacation, or on leave. They can be hired for specified projects or to assist during exceptional increases in the work load. In France, contingent workers can be hired for a fixed period not to exceed 18 months ( Messmer, 1994 ). Critics of European restrictions point to the hard times suffered by workers and the affects of a heavily regulated workplace. It is contended that job protection for permanent workers led to the creation of more temporary jobs ( Templeman, et al., 1996 ). In The Netherlands, with few restrictions on the use of contingent workers, the employment of contingent workers is credited as one of the key factors driving productivity growth ( Krol, 1993 ). Although striking a balance between the interests of workers and business is stated as a goal, commentaries on the topic focus on economic consequences, an incomplete analysis.

Consequences of Contingent Work

It is not claimed here that the alienation of workers began with the advent of contingent labor. Rather, the organization of contingent work exemplifies contemporary conditions of employment and aggravates the sources of alienation. Contingent employment further objectifies the worker as employer's interest in hiring worker talents (just-in-time) to solve specified problems and does not necessarily carry over to the embodiment of the worker. The importance of psychological and social aspects of work are diminished. Klincheloe ( 1995 ) states "managers ignore the fact that work is a social as well as a technical process" ( p. 6 ). The conception of work has been divorced from its execution as a result of chopping it up into minute tasks, often facilitating the employment of contingent workers. According to Rinehart ( 1987 ), work has been made "more repetitive, stultifying, and meaningless" ( p 72 ).

Even when limited to economic considerations, Bernhardt and Bailey ( 1997 ) conclude that employers have benefited more than workers from the arrangements of contingent employment. Rifkin ( 1995 ) concurs:

The movement toward contingent workers is part of a long-term strategy by management to cut wages and avoid paying for costly benefits like health care, pensions, paid sick leave, and vacation. ( p. 191 )

Corporate downsizing reduces the number of permanent employees and contingent workers often fill the resulting talent gap. Contingent workers usually have lower earnings and no fringe benefits, can be easily laid off when they are no longer needed, and usually are not at one workplace long enough to develop a sense of solidarity with other workers ( Parker, 1994 ). Generally, U.S. companies that employ contingent workers save on Social Security, benefit costs, career development costs ( McNerney, 1995 ), and costs of recruiting, interviewing, and hiring ( Button, 1993 ). Each of these actions can serve to debase individual worker's self-respect and economic status.

The repute of contingent employment has not been missed by workers. About two-thirds of employed U.S. workers preferred noncontingent jobs over contingent employment ( Polivka, 1996b ). One phase of a study conducted by Nyyssola ( 1994 ) focused on labor market flexibility in Finland. The most negative attitudes among the 17-29 year-old respondents were toward the growth of limited duration contracts. Bernhardt, Morris, Handcock, and Scott ( 1998 ) report "strong anxiety" among young workers about their chances for upward mobility and the potential for downsizing and layoffs.

In addition to concerns about the continuity of employment and quality of jobs, contingent workers have insecurities about lack of employee benefits, including health care ( Feldman, et al., 1994 ). Of all U.S. contingent workers, about 20% had employer provided health insurance as compared to 54% of noncontingent workers ( Carrns, 1996 ). Contingent workers in nations with federal health care plans (e.g., Canada, The Netherlands, Sweden) may not experience the disruptions in health care as will workers who depend on employer-provided health insurance.

Looking beyond the economics of employment, practices of contingent employment may move work from the revered position given it in the ethic of western cultures. In the U.S., Carnevale ( 1984 ) described work as the "legal quid pro quo for consumption of life's basic necessities … [and] … a normative precondition for participation in the polity and culture" ( p. 1 ). However, Nyyssola ( 1994 ) reported that about half of her respondents held a detached attitude toward employment viewing it as merely a means of making a living. Rather than being absorbed in employment as a way of life, meeting income needs became the focus of work. Rinehart ( 1987 ), observing the growth of industrial capitalism, concludes:

people were compelled to order their lives in terms of economic criteria. Human labour was converted into a commodity that was bought and sold. The overriding objective of business firms-to generate profits and amass capital-was often achieved at the expense of the needs and interests of workers and the community. ( p. 72 )

Disrupted employment and unemployment (characteristics of contingent employment) represent a problem not only for individual workers and their families but for society as well. The dehumanizing and impersonal treatment often received on the job by contingent workers ( Feldman, et. al., 1994 ) may reflect a more generally held societal view about those not holding "regular" jobs, that is, jobs that fit idealized, and often historic notions.

There is evidence that the consequences of contingent employment fall unevenly on the working population. When the skill level of the jobs into which contingent workers are hired is examined, disparities by race and gender are revealed. In high skilled contract jobs in the U.S., 92% of the workers are white whereas 22% of those hired in low skill temporary jobs are African-American ( Carrns, 1996 ). Overall, two-thirds of the contingent workforce in the U.S. is female ( Judd & Pope, 1994 ). However, two-thirds of those in high skill contract employment are male and 53% of low skill temporaries are female ( Carrns, 1996 ). Judd and Pope ( 1994 ) contend that women lack bargaining power and employment alternatives, thereby, allowing regular jobs to be converted into contingent work.

Women are taking temp-agency jobs because employers are creating more temporary positions in fields where women typically work, not because temporary employment better meets their flexibility needs. ( Judd & Pope, 1994, p. 88 )

Economically, psychologically, and socially, contingent employment has the potential to further alienate workers. The organization of contingent work reduces the control of workers over the purpose and product of their work effort, the overall organization of the workplace, and the immediate work process itself. Insecurities of disrupted employment, loss of benefits such as pensions and health care, and not holding steady jobs can weigh on contingent workers economically, socially, and emotionally. Some may view their employment as stressful and exploitative and solely regard it as a means of supporting their real interests. Rifkin ( 1995 ) cites a quotation from a temporary financial analyst for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Temporary employment is "worse than being out of work, you can't even make plans for the future" ( USA Today , March 3, 1993, p. 1B). Also, it is evident that not all members of the contingent workforce have the same opportunities in that racial minority groups and women receive less favorable treatment. What can be offered as preparation for contingent employment, whether that be for a short period or for a career? What is the niche to be filled by industrial educators in preparing contingent workers?

Preparation for Contingent Work

A basic question relative to contingent employment and worker alienation to be answered by industrial educators is whether they will try to salve symptoms or provide instruction to deal with causes of alienation. To salve the symptoms is to suggest that the forces that shape the workplace are insurmountable and it is best to adapt to them. To deal with root causes of alienation is to raise expectations about the rewards of work and to instruct students that there are means for them to gain greater control over the purposes, product, organization, and processes of work. "How might our efforts be directed, to adapting to the world as it is' or to considering what would have to be done for things to be otherwise?" ( Simon, Dippo, & Schenke, 1991, p. 4 ).

If programs of preparation for work are to address the discontent of alienated workers they need to face the elements of control described by Rinehart ( 1987 ) and resist becoming "training centers for existing corporate interests" ( Simon, et al., 1991, p. x ).

It is important to understand that students are taught in schools shaped by the perceived needs of business and industry. Teachers are often directed to teach to curriculum guides organized around the development of worker skills that business needs … school programs are designed to produce cooperative workers-employees capable of solving problems identified by employers. ( Klincheloe, 1995, p. 19 )

Gregson ( 1996 ) would have us examine the "emancipatory or transformative possibilities of vocational curriculum" ( p. 36 ). In this spirit, three dominant issues of curriculum for contingent employment are considered here: occupational content, career management, and the interrelations of employment, family, and community.

Occupational Content

Finch and Crunkilton ( 1993 ) note that the curriculum, in order to be appropriate, must be responsive "to a constantly changing world of work" ( p. 16 ). The evidence of growth of contingent employment (e.g., Carrns, 1996 ; Feldman, et al., 1994 ; Judd & Pope, 1994 ; Krol, 1993 ) suggests the increasing probability that industrial education program completers will, at some time, be part of the contingent workforce or be employed with individuals who are. Hippel, et al. ( 1997 ) estimated that 90% of all U.S. employers had hired contingent workers.

Some of the traditional methods of determining instructional content (e.g., task analysis) have been based, largely, on existing work as defined by employers and have implied that the interests of the worker have been represented therein. When employers and employees made long-term commitments to each other this was frequently true. But the life-long interdependent link between one employer and one employee has been broken; it no longer can be relied upon ( Drucker, 1995 ). Therefore, an instructional agenda limited to job preparation as defined by employers gives inadequate attention to the needs of contingent workers who deserve work preparation that addresses their needs with thoroughness and vigor equal to that given to the employers' agenda. Wirth ( 1989 ) returned to basics of human existence in his description of preparation for work.

The reach for understanding and truth is the source of human dignity; it is our vocation, our calling as human beings. If institutions like work or school fail to support this primordial source of human strength, they weaken not only themselves but the people in them as well. When we design institutions that honor our quest for meaning, however, we tap our best that is in us and help people to live their lives with a sense of self-respect. ( p. 8 )

Dewey ( 1940 ) stated that there should be a democratic "industrial intelligence" that extends beyond job responsibilities, even to the transformation of work. But, one may ask, does such a model of education for work meet the test of relevance to conditions of employment in the new workplace?

Pratzner ( 1989 ), building on the ideas of Wirth, offers approaches to curriculum and instruction that recognize the new workplace and are especially pertinent to preparation for contingent employment. He suggests that students, not subject matter, be the emphasis of instruction. This concept gains meaning under conditions of contingent employment because of the workplace instability faced by workers. Contingent workers will probably be more successful if their preparation for work is not defined by occupational specialization but by personal abilities with attention to the integration of learning irrespective of subject matter or where that learning occurs. When built on the European concept of "key qualifications", as identified by Nijhof and Streumer ( 1997 ), that is, the fundamentals of employment; the know-how on which advanced skills and specialization are based; a person entering employment will be well-served to meet changes in the structure and specifics of work. Individuals who examine what they learn and place it in a productive context, inclusive of the social, economic, political, and skill requirements of work, would appear to be better prepared to meet the conditions of contemporary employment. Reflective learning ( Simon, et al., 1991 ) in which students describe, clarify, judge, and interpret their experiences becomes central to this process.

Pratzner ( 1989 ) also proposes that the socio-technical design of work be studied directly. The structure of the workplace, under conditions of contingent employment, has dramatically reordered the relationship between employer and employee, and instruction based on past practices does not fit. Contingent employment as a means of livelihood should be studied intentionally. Further, descriptions of employment conditions should recognize the continuing evolution of the workplace.

Reflective, learner-centered industrial education, inclusive of the study of designs for work, can meet the Finch and Crunkilton ( 1993 ) test of relevance to conditions of employment and, importantly, the well-being of the individual. The development of workplace skills should not be dropped from the course of study; they are still important to securing employment. However, the skills learned need to consider the talents of the learner and evolve from the learner's abilities, in addition to in and out of school experiences. The discovery and development of talents, within the context of broad fields of practice, become central to the occupational content of the curriculum. Workers can be better prepared to make choices about the use of their time on the job; choices that will help them place themselves in situations where they best understand how to control work processes and the work environment.

A note about the role of technology education in the development of work related talents is in order. Sophisticated technologies are used to organize work. These structures designate the jobs into which individuals are hired and define the conditions under which employment occurs ( Herschbach, 1994 ). The organization of work is created by humans; it is not taken from nature. Technology is a means of controlling the conditions of work and, subsequently, of controlling workers. Organizational structures and the interactions between social and machine technologies continually alter the environment in which people live and work and, as Pratzner ( 1989 ) states, deserve to be studied directly. Beyond this, technology education can provide experiences that facilitate self-discovery and nurture self-confidence.

Career Management

An instrumental view of career management would increase the social and economic efficiency of this process, thereby better meeting the need of industry for worker skills ( Simon, et al., 1991 ). Under this scheme an intermediary organization could, on demand, fit the round or other shaped pegs of worker talents into the receptively shaped holes of employer needs and control of employment would slip further away from the worker. However, as de Weert ( 1996 ) commented: "[career planning] presupposes that the labour market can provide clear signals about quantity or nature and profile of future jobs and training needs" ( p. 27-28 ). For workers under conditions of contingent employment, "job searching threatens to become a constant activity as time spent with one employer grows shorter and shorter" ( Bernhardt & Bailey, 1997, p. 2 ). All too often this has been further complicated by mystery and folklore surrounding job hunting and placement ( Bolles, 1997 ).

For schools to fulfill their moral function in the development of post-industrial intelligence amidst turbulent change, as Dewey ( 1916 ) described, the curriculum for work preparation will, logically, include career management. Career management for contingent workers extends beyond the job-seeking skills successfully taught in many vocational programs. Assessing one's own abilities and interests, documenting work abilities and accomplishments, identifying new skills that are emotionally satisfying and of economic and social value, balancing work with other responsibilities, managing one's own benefit package (e.g., insurances, vacations, and pension), and planning work progressions are among the career management abilities to be learned in preparation for contingent work.

One of the most difficult tasks in relation to vocation, intensified by the conditions of contingent employment, is that of gaining thorough self-understanding. Job hunting and career guidance experts ( Bolles, 1997 ) have long recognized the merits of self-understanding and devices such as aptitude tests and interest inventories to provide a helpful start. But the potential for understanding a vocational self through these vicarious experiences cannot match the depth of comprehension possible through work-based instruction. For example, while learning the skills applicable to a job, the standards of performance and how to assess one's own abilities against those standards can be learned. Understanding oneself as a vocational being has important implications for contingent workers in personal identity, job selection, skill development, and career satisfaction. The industrial education setting provides a "greenhouse" for nurturing citizens and workers through democratic, holistic, and integrated learning experiences ( Gregson, 1994 ).

Not to be overlooked as part of career management is coping with the emotional trauma of job loss. Knowing how to hunt for a new job can be helpful, but presently, many are not prepared for the denial, anger, loss of identity, and diminished self-worth resulting from job loss ( Snyder, 1997 ). Instruction about the trauma probably will not insulate against the shock, but students can be made aware that unexpected emotional responses often follow the loss of a job.

Some alternative forms of career assistance have emerged. This includes new services by long-standing employment agencies [e.g., Department of Labor One-Stop Career Centers ( Imel, 1996 )] and many internet services (e.g., Ability, 1996 ; DLD Technical Services, 1996 ; National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses, 1996 ; National Technical Services Association, 1995 ) whose purpose is to connect contingent workers with employers who are seeking particular talents. Information that describes contingent work with projections for its use by employers is available (e.g., National Technical Services Association, 1995 ). Some online providers make services such as resume preparation available (e.g., Erickson, 1996 ). Use of the internet has eased the global search for contingent employment.

Despite the value of available career assistance services, the information provided is insufficient for individuals to develop their own employment plans. A person seeking to smooth the irregularities inherent in contingent employment can gain from considering an agenda inclusive of employment, training, investment, leisure, and matters of family and community life. A plan will not assure avoidance of unemployment or stress producing situations, but the most apparent pitfalls can be avoided and any given set of circumstances can be placed in perspective to give the worker a greater degree of self-control in relationship to employment.

Conscientious preparation for work calls for instruction in career management. The need for repeated job searches, the loss of employer-based retirement, insurance, and vacation benefits, the trauma of job loss, and the identification and development of a vocational self, support this call. Industrial educators may plead that they are not prepared to be vocational counselors and should not meddle with student lives in these ways. However, authentic, work-based learning experiences, as provided through industrial education, can help learners find and confirm their abilities and interests as few other available school experiences can. Industrial educators have opportunities to ask important questions of their students about career situations and how they might be handled. This can be done by all industrial educators, including those dedicated to technology education.

Interrelationships of Employment, Family, and Community

Whether done consciously or not, workers make choices about the relationship of their employment to their family and communities ( Bond, et al., 1998 ). At issue is the extent to which the choices are made on the basis of relevant information and are consistent with the best interests of the worker and those who have a stake in the well-being of the worker.

The mode of education advocated by Whinfield ( 1989 ) addresses the choices to be made by contingent workers.

There is a certain irrefutable logic to the argument that the best education in a democracy is one that is, itself, democratic. Such an education should prepare people to deal with the decisions that have to be made in their own lives, including decisions that concern occupational, social, political, and economic problems. ( p. 20-21 )

Gregson ( 1996 ), in the tradition of Dewey, espouses a vocational curriculum that "is transformative or emancipatory in nature because it promotes experiences that require students to critically examine worker and employer values, attitudes, and responsibilities" ( p. 54 ). Giroux ( 1988 ) suggests that taken-for-granted assumptions need to be challenged for the sake of broadened self-understanding and empowerment. Students' consciousness of values, attitudes, and responsibilities should be raised in the interest of promoting social justice ( Rehm, 1989 ). At the root of empowered citizens and workers, according to Simon, et al. ( 1991 ), is the critical knowledge needed to make choices.

For making choices about family and employment, Way and Rossmann ( 1994 ) cite three conceptual models from Chow and Berheide ( 1988 ).

[One is] a separate sphere model, in which family and work are seen as distinctive systems that operate separately. Another is the spillover effects model, which recognizes system permeability but examines only unidirectional relationships between them. A third conception is the interactive model, which takes into account the reciprocal interaction of work and family and their joint effects. ( Way & Rossmann, 1994, p. 10 )

Another alternative is a holistic model ( Savoy, 1988 ) in which all employment and family activities are seen as forms of work, that is, vocation or calling. Such a concept encourages the development of comprehensive goal statements that address the sustainability of the family, its lifestyle (how the family wants to live), what is to be produced (income, leisure), and its resource base (salable talents, extended family, co-workers, community resources).

Families that develop and follow through on their own goals move the locus of planning from one place, such as the site of employment, to the household. This is compatible with contingent employment inasmuch as there is no single employer or guardian of the worker's future and more of the responsibility for maintaining employment is in the hands of the employee. A holistically stated goal for the family, even when that consists of one person, provides a way to examine all aspects of that unit's life and to gain greater control over the environment, including the workplace, with which it interacts.

Industrial educators may not be ready to teach comprehensive planning but can recognize and acknowledge to themselves and their students that preparation for contemporary life and work is not concluded with the development of salable skills. Such a limitation is an invitation to further worker alienation, especially under the conditions of contingent employment. Industrial educators can cause their students to confront questions about their life goals, consider choices and their consequences, and reflect on how work may be a help or hindrance to goal realization.


The tension between the desires of employers and the needs of employees in the contemporary workplace raises questions for industrial educators about the purposes of what they teach and how they instruct. Employers choosing to hire the talents of workers, as contingent employees (just-in-time skills), disembody the worker and aggravate the conditions from which worker alienation arise. Preparation for work has typically been attuned to the agenda of employers, with the assumption that the employer-employee relationship made this beneficial to all parties. With no assurances and few prospects of lifetime employment, those preparing to enter or return to the workplace have a distinctly different set of needs for instruction from that advanced by employers. Designs to improve employer flexibility and meet international competition fall more heavily on workers than on employers and increase employee insecurities. Further, decisions critical to the well-being of the worker suggest that students in work preparation programs learn to question the routines of employment and become active participants in their own development and the evolution of the workplace.

Because they are faced with frequent job changes, students should become the center of their own course of study. This is not to the exclusion of learning job skills, but it represents a shift from a curriculum focused on learning to perform a set of prescribed tasks derived from a particular occupation, field of work, or technology to the identification and development of the learner's abilities.

Those who are in the workforce need to know how to manage their own careers and maintain a balance among their employment, family, and community responsibilities. Employers cannot be expected to be guardians of workers when they are not able to make long-term commitments to them. Individuals need to be prepared to manage their own careers including insurance, pension and vacation planning, portfolio building, job hunting, and personal development. It is doubtful that adequate preparation for job loss can be offered, but students need to be aware that they may experience emotional responses that are outside of their normal reactions. Industrial educators probably should not teach all aspects of career management and employment, family, and community participation. But, they need to understand that the workplace talent development they facilitate is in the context of these other aspects of a worker's life and questions to students about these interrelationships should be abundant and are appropriate.

The workplace itself should be a subject of study. The organizational structure used to accomplish the goals of a workplace are created by humans and should be understood by those who might be employed there. This social technology is usually coupled with machine technology that can facilitate human endeavor and can control those in the workplace. Workers need to know how these forces are used in the workplace and how they affect activities and those who work there.

As developers of a democratic, industrial intelligence, industrial educators will continue their search for understanding and truth in the preparation of workers. Wirth's ( 1992 ) challenge is to prepare architects of the future workplace and not just bees who are employed therein.


Bjorkquist is Professor Emeritus, Department of Work, Family, and Community Education, University of Minnesota, St. Paul.

Kleinhesselink is a student, Faculty of Educational Science and Technology, University of Twente, The Netherlands.


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