Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tom Friedman on today's labor market

As we head further into the worst labor market in at least 30 years, some patterns are beginning to emerge. Something I keep hearing over and over again is that a college degree of any type is no longer enough. Whether it is undergraduate electrical engineers, MBAs, or law students, employers have never had so much discretion in hiring decisions. They can write the job description of an ideal job candidate and get exactly what they want without too much trouble.

In his latest NYT column Tom Friedman notes what the MBA program hears constantly from employers --

Those who are waiting for this recession to end so someone can again hand them work could have a long wait. Those with the imagination to make themselves untouchables — to invent smarter ways to do old jobs, energy-saving ways to provide new services, new ways to attract old customers or new ways to combine existing technologies — will thrive. Therefore, we not only need a higher percentage of our kids graduating from high school and college — more education — but we need more of them with the right education. ...

Just being an average accountant, lawyer, contractor or assembly-line worker is not the ticket it used to be. As Daniel Pink, the author of “A Whole New Mind,” puts it: In a world in which more and more average work can be done by a computer, robot or talented foreigner faster, cheaper “and just as well,” vanilla doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s all about what chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherry you can put on top. So our schools have a doubly hard task now — not just improving reading, writing and arithmetic but entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.

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