HOME SKILLS IN THE WORKPLACE

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

"We serve a very important link between consumers and companies," says Kathryn Moore, a home-economics consultant in Kansas City, Mo.

Ms. Moore is one of the growing number of home economists who are working as consultants for corporations. She specializes in food writing, developing recipes for major food companies, and testing consumer appliances such as mixers and slow cookers. She also writes instructional manuals for such products.

Moore, who has been in the business for 16 years, says home economists working in the business world have to recognize trends and then work with companies to integrate the trends into goods and services. Some examples include helping manufacturers design new consumer products, advising food producers on cutting fat from foods, or creating clothing that meets certain lifestyles.

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Calling home economics an "exciting profession," Moore says that it demands a lot of creativity and careful research.

Specialization is the key in today's home economics-field, Moore says. People have to find an area of study, such as home design or nutrition, and take courses to build those skills.

Many companies don't advertise for "home economists," she says. Firms look for a clothing and fashion-merchandising specialist or someone skilled in product evaluation or food writing.

Unfortunately, the pay scale for some of these jobs has not kept pace with salaries in other industries, she says, because these positions have been predominantly held by women.

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