Curious to see what the Department of Labor says about the outlook for instructional designers, I was surprised to find that there is no such listing in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)--and never has been. Certainly, I know of no IDs who, at the age of eight said:"I'm going to be an instructional designer when I grow up!"
Instead, the OOH lists "Training and Development Specialists" and includes the gamut of L&D career options in the mix. The good news is that the field is expected to grow as Baby Boomers leave the workforce: ..."organizations will need capable training and development staff to train their replacements. The need to replace a large workforce of highly skilled and knowledgeable employees should result in organizations increasing their training staff, or contracting out services, to sustain a workforce of high quality employees and maintain a competitive edge."
What's the 'bad' news? Many L&D departments are ill-equipped to respond to the needs of the changing workplace, where change occurs at the speed of competition. Our own skills have been neglected as we scramble to serve our customers. As a result, many us have not noticed that the world has changed around us. We no longer can focus on 'only' the learner needs; we must focus on the business needs to remain relevant and to survive. As David Grebow notes in this article in Training magazine, we need to align to the needs of the business to provide the training and development that workers need. Let's do it.