Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Why we can't bring back lost jobs

Both our problematical presidential prospects yak about bringing jobs back from overseas.

Not going to happen. They both know this--but that's another story.

Stephan Manning and Marcus M. Larsen, writing in Government Executive Magazine, May 29, 2016, says these jobs mostly are gone for good.

Instead of focusing on threatening American companies or providing tax incentives to manufacture here or even attract foreign investment here, they say, we need to develop a new kind of worker that takes advantage of the worldwide economic realities.

Labor cost advantages and the availability of qualified people overseas made it attractive to go elsewhere. Even a certain candidate did it and is doing it, despite railing against it.

There is a "reshoring" movement--and they claim it has resulted in 67,000 manufacturing jobs being added in 2015. Part of this success, though, is because wages abroad are rising. and the advantages of going abroad turned out to be matched by negatives such as quality issues, delays, language problems, and coordination costs.

But--the authors say--instead of seeing those negatives and staying home or coming back, many companies are adapting and becoming more nimble. They are doubling down on having a global footprint and just diversifying the places they go.

In other words, they are adopting a global mindset. US locations are not the home office in all cases anymore.

So now what? The focus should be not on keeping companies from going abroad but on developing a worker for the new reality.

This does not mean just STEM--science, tech, engineering, and math. It means a unique blend of qualifications--local and global, technical and interpersonal.

Workers will need to work in international teams--not bitch about training foreign replacements.

This also means language facility instead of complaining about people speaking languages other than English.

Food for thought, no?

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