Confused youths, downsized employees, working moms: Shifts in workforce change focus of Jewish profe

As the makeup of Jews in the workforce changes, Jewish Vocational Service agencies are beginning to shift their focus.

Demographer Gary Tobin and some JVS executives say that these groups, among others, now require more attention:

*Youths. Adolescence now lasts until about age 25, Tobin half-joked. When young adults are getting out of college in their early 20s, many haven't had real jobs yet and aren't getting married right away. As a result, the 20s have become a time for career exploration.

"They seriously don't know what to do," Tobin said last week in San Francisco at a JVS conference.

San Francisco's JVS, for example, plans to work more on youth career counseling and transition support for college graduates, said Abby Snay, its executive director.

*Jewish women in their 30s and 40s. They are the most highly educated group of women in the world and have the highest occupational status, Tobin said. Ninety percent of them will have at least one child, he said. They're ready to cut back their hours, but they don't want to quit working.

*Immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Some Jews seem to think the immigrants no longer exist, Tobin said. The Jewish community spent decades rallying for the rights of Soviet Jewry, he said. Now that the immigrants are here, they still need help."It's a serious moral issue," Tobin said.

Several executives in the audience, including Snay, agreed. San Francisco will greet 700 new emigres of working age this year, she said.

"And we can't forget that there are 30,000 Soviet Jews in San Francisco. It's time for them to look at career advancement."

Emigre youth also need extra career guidance, she said.

*Professionals hit by corporate downsizing and those considered "underemployed," meaning their skill levels are higher than their jobs reflect.

Barbara Nurenberg, executive director of the Detroit JVS, said her agency already is dealing with the "new generation of Jewish workers" who are more likely to work for corporations than to work for themselves.

As a result, she said, they are part of the "anxious generation" who are susceptible to mass layoffs.

*The semi-retired. People who have enough money to leave their old jobs but still want to work will become a booming population, Tobin predicted.