Metropolitan Washington employers are filling more than 86,000 jobs a year, and that is one of the main factors in the region's continued economic strength.
According to a new study by the D.C. Department of Employment Services, for the years 1976-1982 about 49 percent of these annual job openings represent industrial growth while 51 percent are replacements for workers who resign, retire, die or move out of the Washington area.
As analysts of the loca economy have noted, many of the new jobs here are for skilled and technical workers and professional people, and virtually all of these new jobs are located in the Washington suburbs.
However, the new figures emphasize another trend that D.C. government and public school officials should note well. As was the case in the mid-1970s, the clerical workers category is expected to continue to have the greatest number of job openings among all sectors of the employment market here.
With 24,500 jobs annually, the clerical openings represent 28 percent of all occupational additions each year in the metropolitan area. Some 44 percent of these clerical jobs are due to expansion by business and government. Of the clerical openings, secretarial slots are expected to total 4,850 a year, followed by general office clerk openings of 4,350 annual jobs.
Professional-technical (19,000 jobs a year) and services industry jobs (12,000) follow the clerical sector as the next-largest growth areas.
The point here is that the District is missing out on the opportunity to train large number of young men and women adequately for this large single employment growth sector.
Suburban public school facilities -- with bright mock offices and a complete array of modern office and word-processing equipment -- generally outshine to an enormous degree the clerical skills training facilities at D.C. schools. And many area employers say privately that students who graduates from vocational programs in suburban schools not only have a greater familiarity with modern equipment and office needs but also a better general education.
D.C. officials who may be interested in the potential for helping to gain a larger share of future clerical jobs for graduates of the city's schools should consider visiting typical classrooms in Fairfax County -- followed by a serious effort to upgrade facilities available for the District's schools.
Just as valid a case can be made for a D.C. academic high school to focus on higher intellectual standards for qualified students.
This may be the time to provide for an advanced and specialized clerical office-skills educational center, equipped for the computer era, at one of Washington's high schools.