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High-tech skills key to getting best jobs

The hottest job candidates in coming years will be those with a head for business in combination with high-tech skills such as engineering or biochemistry or computer expertise, consultants say. To really get an edge, the movers and shakers of the future also will have studied Japanese or Russian or another foreign language, employment analysts say.

"Whatever function you decide to get into, the world you're going to be working in five or 10 years from now is going to be a very small world, an international world," says Debra Benton, who owns a management resources firm in Fort Collins, Colo.

An appreciation of world cultures _ even for an entry-level executive just graduating with a master's degree in business administration _ will help speed the climb up corporate ladders, analysts say.

The best, solid job opportunities in the years ahead lie in the so-called "hard" disciplines, or fields that require engineering, math, chemistry, computer or science backgrounds.

"The engineering disciplines, virtually without exception, will come into new vogue in the '90s," says Alan Schonberg, president of Management Recruiters International, a Cleveland-based headhunting firm.

"Our society continues to evolve more and more into a high-tech society," he says.

The best and the brightest continue to be people who couple these so-called "hard" disciplines with a business background, analysts say.

"The ideal person continues to be an electrical engineer with an MBA _ somebody who's got a technical background but also truly has a head for business," says Nancy Albertini, president of Taylor Winfield Inc., a Dallas headhunting firm.

Picking out a field where the opportunities might be bountiful in the years ahead is as easy as looking at areas where technological advances are being made, such as the environment, communications, computers and biology.

"New technology always drives opportunity," Albertini says.

On the other hand, future job hunters should stay out of fields that are in trouble today.

"The automobile industry is shrinking, the airline industry is in turmoil. I would not go near the banking industry or, frankly, real estate."

Most analysts said the people who don't have a yen for math or science shouldn't fret, because opportunities will continue to exist in a wide range of fields.

"There's going to be a place for lawyers and for accountants and department store buyers. There's going to be a place for teachers and for real estate developers. The most important thing is to go where you're going to be happy," Schonberg says.