Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Read The Book That Changes Careers

7,000,000 jobs go unfilled every day. That number will, under     conservative estimates, double in the next six years to 14 million.

A new book warns of the jobs cliff --and reveals a comprehensive,
proven solution to stave off an economic meltdown.

America’s Economic Dominance Is Threatened   
by a Crushing Skilled Labor Shortage

I have known Edward Gordon for the past 13 years and I think his newest book really highlights an important moment in time for our nation.

America is at a crucial employment tipping point – trillions of dollars in economic growth as well as the survival of millions of businesses and careers are at stake.

“The United States and the world are locked into a structural labor market race between advanced technology on one side and demographics and education on the other,” asserts Gordon. “By the end of this decade, many businesses will no longer have the talent needed to sustain themselves.”

Gordon has been the Paul Revere of the next revolution, one involving jobs and America’s ability to position itself for the next great economic era.  For much of the past two decades, Gordon has consulted with corporate leaders, educators, government agencies, and NGOs, sounding the alarm bell of an impending crisis – the skill wars that are now negating the economy’s ability to grow and remain globally strong.  But these dire warnings, though largely unheeded, are now coming true. 

His newest book, Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis (Praeger, September 2013), offers a thorough look at the converging forces behind the skilled labor shortage crunch and presents a comprehensive, proven solution that can help America remain competitive and create millions of jobs.  The answer, however, is nothing short of revolutionary, in terms of how business and government will work together, how education will be reformed, and how workers will determine their career fate.

Below is a Q & A with Mr. Gordon:

1. Why have corporations, schools, governments been so slow to move on the jobs crisis? Society has been in denial. Public opinion will only begin to shift as the majority of people become directly caught up in this unfolding jobs revolution. But now we have reached an employment tipping point. The broad requirements of the U.S. job market can no longer be supplied simply by maintaining the current failing system. The United States and the world are locked into a structural labor market race between advanced technology on one side and demographics and education on the other. Too few Americans are prepared to run in this race. By the end of this decade, many businesses will no longer have the talent they need to sustain themselves. Around the world, workers and businesses are caught up in a transitional labor market era. In this new era, the success or failure of individual businesses and of regional or national economies will largely be determined by their ability to provide more people who can meet labor market requirements with the right skills at the right time.

2. How does Future Jobs propose a solution? Future Jobs explores the concept behind Regional Talent Innovation Networks (RETAINs) and their credibility as a major labor market change engine. RETAINs are community intermediaries. They act as hubs for cross-sector partnerships engaged in a systemic redesign that matches skills and jobs to regional economic development. RETAINs facilitate broader civic engagement by forging links between businesses, educators, community leaders, and ordinary citizens.

3. Why do millions of jobs go unfilled when so many people remain unemployed or underemployed? The American education-to-employment system is largely failing to prepare more people with the required skills to compete in this new labor market era. Laid-off workers often lack the skills to move into jobs in growing sectors of the economy. Businesses and government job training programs are largely inconsistent, short term, or too generic. Too many younger workers lack general education and specialized career skills, let alone a strong work ethic, to sustain a middle class standard of living. They are now adding to the growing American underclass. “We have underemployment, part-time work, people leaving the labor force, reduced participation, more long-term unemployment,” said  Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (June 2013). This could mean that the U.S. unemployment rate issued each month is “not exactly representative of the state of the labor market,” he said. In 2013, over 30 million Americans of working age are unemployed or underemployed with millions more not part of the U.S. labor market. The number of people looking for work (labor participation rate) was near the historic low of 63.5 percent, while the average duration of unemployment remained near historic highs.

4. Why can’t we import qualified workers to handle these jobs? Until recently, U.S. businesses have bridged the skills deficit by using the twin talent safety valves of importing educated workers or exporting overseas high-pay/high-skills jobs wherever they could find a skilled talent pool. These talent safety valves are beginning to fail in part because this is also an international jobs–talent issue. The World Economic Forum (2011) predicts that this disconnect will persist for decades and the worst global talent shortages are yet to come. The populations of Japan, South Korea, and many European nations are in decline. India and China are moving into more sophisticated high tech manufacturing or IT services. They both are now encountering severe shortages of engineers, scientists, and technicians with the requisite educational preparation due to their deficient public education systems and the inadequate quality of institutions of higher learning.

5. OK, then can we outsource our way out of it? As stated in the last answer, skilled talent is in short supply everywhere. In China wages are rising, and corruption adds significantly to the costs of doing business in both India and China. Reshoring or bringing jobs back to the U.S. is gaining momentum. A reshoring trend, says Boston Consulting, is likely to bring up to 3 million manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. from overseas by 2020.  Chinese wages have been increasing at 18 percent annually for the last 10 years. Much of that cost savings is now gone. Other factors in reshoring are a desire to get products to market faster, a more rapid response to customer orders, savings from reduced transportation and warehousing, improved quality, reduced theft of trade secrets, and the elimination of bribes paid to corrupt foreign officials. A Hackett Group research study (2012) found that the cost gap between the U.S. and China has shrunk by nearly 50 percent over the past 8 years, and is expected to stand at only 16 percent by 2013.  However, U.S. reshoring will only occur if we have the skilled workers to do these jobs.

6. How will government, education, business, and nonprofits need to work together to stave off the growing job skills gap? RETAINs break down the silos separating these and other segments of communities so they can unite to address problems arising in times of regional crisis including population and business flight, local economic stagnation, and declining tax bases. Communities want to “retain” their life, viability, and spirit to build a better, hopeful future. To do this, they must update their local talent, develop their capacity to innovate and also attract new businesses into a region. From their beginnings in the 1990s, the RETAINs movement has been about much more than just economic development, or school reform, or tax reform. RETAINs are regional, cross-sector, public-private partnership hubs. They do not duplicate services already exist. They act as non-profit intermediaries, rebuilding the pipeline that connects people to the job market and filling in the gaps. RETAINs are reinventing a 21st-century education-to-employment talent-creation system that can support a tech-driven, knowledge-based economy. RETAINs are joint collaborations in community building. The key words here are “bottom-up collaboration” defined as joint authority, joint responsibility, and joint accountability among all the partners.

7. Are there models of success that have embraced your RETAINS approach? Transformation is never easy. Changing a region’s employment and cultural outlook takes both time and perseverance. In many cases, a local crisis pushed a community to take action on the talent front. The individual leadership shown in each instance depicts how civic activism can take many different creative paths to achieve meaningful change. All of these Regional Talent Innovation Networks (RETAINs) and other talent initiatives are still works in progress. But they have sustained support through their initial stages and are making advances in transforming their education-to-employment system for the talent requirements of a 21st-century workforce. They include: regions of North Dakota; High School Inc., Santa Ana, CA; the New North in northeast Wisconsin; the Vermilion Advantage, Danville, IL; Partners for a Competitive Workforce, Cincinnati, OH; and about 1,000 other RETAINs across the U.S.

8. Was the Great Recession a game changer for the labor landscape?  The spread of digital technologies through almost every type of industry had meant the U.S. business has less and less use for people with minimal education. The Great Recession has accelerated an ongoing labor market shift that was masked by the many low- or semi-skilled jobs created during the housing/financial bubble. In today’s labor market, employment for low- or semi-skilled workers has fallen dramatically. Even middle-skilled professionals have seen a steady decline in jobs because of automation. In general, the job opportunities are brighter for high-skilled people who have kept their knowledge and applicable certifications up-to-date and who can relocate to where jobs exist.  Increasing computer power requires more people with increased brain power.

9. Which industries are growing to the point qualified labor shortages will cause them to stall? There are four sectors of the U.S. economy in which the skills crisis is particularly acute. Each has its own special problems and needs.  HEALTH CARE: To cope with a rapidly aging population, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that by 2020 jobs in health care occupations, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians, therapists, dentists and many allied career areas, will grow by over 20 percent.  IT: Gartner, a technology research company, expects 1.9 million IT jobs to be created in the United States between 2012 and 2015.  AEROSPACE: As airlines seek more fuel-efficient planes, they have placed a record number of orders for Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner and the European Airbus 380. However, both companies now face significant worker shortages.  MANUFACTURING: U.S. manufacturing employs over 11 million Americans as well as seven million in related industries. But nearly 2.7 million U.S. manufacturing employees were age 55 or older in 2011. As many as 600,000 skilled technical positions in U.S. manufacturing were vacant, according to a Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting 2011 study.

10. If you were advising parents of teenagers, which fields of study would you recommend they encourage their children to pursue? The first consideration is what career sectors will be in demand between now and 2020. Occupational projections and surveys by government, universities, and business research organizations point to five general growth areas that are part of almost every U.S. industry: (1) research and development, (2) information technology, (3) operations, (4) management, and (5) sales.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-related occupations will experience significant growth. The U.S. Commerce Department estimates that by 2018 STEM employment will grow by 17 percent, compared to 9.8 percent for other occupations. Surveys conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2011 and 2012 report shortages of engineers, sales representatives, accounting, and finance staff. High-skilled technical positions and scientists also occupied top spots in these surveys. Other sources point to growing shortages for health care professionals and management staff in biomedical and life science areas due to the aging of the large baby boomer cohort.

11. If the jobs skills cliff is impacting nations globally, why will the US be injured by it any more than other countries? We are in a watershed era of historical transformation driven by major technological advances. The key challenge is rethinking how we create stronger learning skills for more people. The United States has the world’s largest and most advanced knowledge economy. We need more people to become “well educated” than ever before. What is the bottom line for talent in 2020? The United States can expect a skilled talent shortfall of between 14 and 25 million workers to fill new and replacement jobs. Between 2020 and 2030, the Boston Consulting Group predicts high to very high talent shortages across the United States in many economic sectors, including: IT, business services, health care, public administration, education, financial services, hotels and restaurants, transport, communications, trade, construction, manufacturing, utilities, and other businesses. Such a scenario will devastate the entire economy and may create an expanding poverty cycle. Unless a new talent creation system is in place by 2020 that has begun to alter those conditions, major social unrest across America will become a distinct possibility.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. Please note, Mr. Gordon is a client of Media Connect. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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