health and social services. A significant proportion of these services are delivered by doctors, nurses, health care technicians, social workers, and other professional and technical occupations. Between 1996 and 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects professional and technical health and social service occupations to create 1.9 million new jobs. Since BLS estimates that all professional and technical occupations will generate 5.8 million jobs over the next decade, health and social service occupations will account for 33 percent of the growth (Silvestri, 1997).
Perhaps the most important reason for growth in the professional and technical labor force is technological change. New technologies have shifted the workforce toward professional and technical occupations in several ways. The first has been by generating entirely new occupations. Throughout history technologies have spawned occupations: the wheelwright, the blacksmith, the machinist, the automobile mechanic, and the airline pilot are illustrations. In the past, technologies created occupations across the entire division of labor. Although modern technologies have also sired occupations in all strata, those with high technical content appear to have become more common (Adler, 1992). Commentators usually credit this change to the advent of the computer. In 1950, few people worked with computers, and most who did were mathematicians (Pettigrew, 1973). By the 1970s, computers had given birth to such well-known occupations as programmer, systems analyst, operations researcher, computer operator, and computer repair technician. These occupations, which now employ over 1.8 million workers, continue to be among the fastest growing. By 2006, computer-related occupations are anticipated to provide employment for 3 million people or 2 percent of the labor force (Silvestri, 1997).
The explosion of occupations directly related to the computer, however, is only the most visible sign that technology may now favor the professional and technical workforce. Numerous professional and especially technician occupations have been created over the last four decades by technologies other than the computer: air traffic controllers, nuclear technicians, nuclear medical