Saturday, March 7, 2009

The US labour problem

Here's a great quote from the founder of on the mint blog.
While the downturn in the economy has meant a flood of resumes for sales, marketing, and general business positions, the engineers, scientists, and researchers who actually make the next innovations possible are still in very short supply.
I think that he really captures the fundamental US problem.  All of the job futures are in sciences & engineering.  But the US has been a services economy for decades. Bankers and financial analysts don't actually "make" anything.  Lawyers and Accountants don't really "make" anything.  They are fundamentally just business overhead. Sales people help connect people and products, but a year in the US will show that we clearly already have more than enough people in Sales and Marketing.

Yeah, maybe I'm biased b/c I work in the computer industry.  But if you look around at the "future jobs" boards, they're all centered around "making stuff".  And that's what the US needs to do become financially solvent again.  They need to "make stuff" that they can export.  You can build a better battery and export that to China.  You can build windmills and power stations and ship them across the world.  You can train great scientists and have other countries license their technology.  But you can't export Lawyers and Accountants.  And you certainly can't export US bankers :)

Of course, the US has had some serious educational issues over the last couple of decades, especially in the realms of education in "Math and Sciences".  So we have a populace that's ill-prepared to tackle the new problems.

The founder (Aaron Paatzer) suggests an increase in the H1Bs and other foreign visas. And he has a point.  Smart people from around the world can migrate to the US and enjoy a US quality of life. It would make a lot of US citizens unhappy and importing "the rich" would definitely "make the poor poorer", but I strongly suspect that's going to happen anyways.

Maybe making the US into a mecca for brains will provide it a means of conquering its financial crisis. It's not a great deal for the "average American" who will still see a decrease in quality of life, but they're going to see that anyways.  Maybe salvaging lifestyles for the top 20% of earners will at least provide reason for continued US solvency.

No comments: