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  • Writer's pictureJohn Shrawder

High School and Employment Markets - Working with Institutions

This third and final entry the connection between employment and the secondary school curriculum will discuss curriculum areas where institutional knowledge is the most important skills. Institutional knowledge differs from interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills include reading, writing, listening, speaking, or interactive skills. Institutional skills include interpersonal skills but also effectiveness with issues like laws, norms, organization history, organizational power, inequality, and organizational roles and expectations. In institutions we must often be effective with people from different cultures and backgrounds and often with people we never even meet. I view social studies as the curriculum area where this can be taught. I will also discuss health and physical education in this posting which is the final area of the secondary school curriculum.


In 1892 the Committee of Ten proposed Social Studies for the first high school curriculum which included history, civil government, political economy, and geography.

These were discussed as part of the Personal and Public sphere as an understanding of social institutions and institutional norms. For technical spheres, I consider this subject area to be an education in the functioning of institutions as opposed to health, interpersonal communications, and working with things. We will consider careers in ethics and religion, law, caring, management and finance, and public safety.

Skills and Knowledge: These high school courses are not connected to careers in the discussion session of the Occupational Outlook Survey. The analysis of job skills does not include knowledge and skills in these areas. Decision making, problem solving, and critical thinking skills are discussed across all areas.

Jobs where Social Studies is the major skill – 37 million or 28% of the American Labor Force.

Many of these jobs are expected to grow more than normal. Some areas which should decline include finance jobs and management and administrative jobs requiring only a high school diploma. Detailed job descriptions for jobs in ethics and religion are not included in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. In this section we will include groups of jobs in law, caring, management, finance, social sciences and public safety. As mentioned before percentages are defined as the number of jobs within the group where a skill is mentioned. Examples of these include the following

  • Law – 5 occupations including lawyers, paralegals, court reporters, arbitrators

  • Caring -– 7 occupations including social workers, childcare, animal care, family therapists

  • Mgt/Admin- 10 occupations including executive, managers, and clerks

  • Financial – 23 occupations including accountants, loan officers, purchasing managers, bank tellers, bookkeepers, claims adjusters

  • Social science - 7 occupations including economists, survey researchers, historians

  • Public Safety – 10 occupations including police, fire, probation, prison guards, military, private security, emergency management. Military is excluded from the statistics on the table.

College Graduates with Degrees in Social Studies. Between 50% and 60% of college students graduate with degrees that could be judged as social studies. Outcomes are never clear cut from one’s college major. Nevertheless, I will judge majors from the most common outcomes.


Health and Physical Education were established in the 1918 recommended curriculum. Health professions are based in science and technology so they are included in the technology section. Athletic skills are included in the Fine Arts section. For this section we will only look at common physical skills like strength, stamina, color vision, and emotional stability in Employment markets.

Skills and Knowledge: About 36 million or 27% of the 135 million jobs in the Occupational Outlook Handbook mention the value of having physical abilities. That means 73% of jobs in the United States do not rely on common physical skills. Over 38% of jobs that only require a high school degree mention having common physical skills while only 2% of college jobs require them.

This will complete the 8 curriculum areas. This is a simplification of the vast amount of detail on the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. People are encouraged to investigate these further.

I hope these posting shows that the curriculum areas of American Secondary Schools are not up to date and need to be reexamined whether we are looking at the Technical, Personal, or Public Spheres.

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