Countries are in the midst of a global job and talent upheaval. After the current recession ends, there will be a growing job crisis around the world due to these talent shortages. Demographic trends in the US, Europe, Russia, and Japan show a drastic reduction in the pool of new highly skilled workers, due to low birthrates and massive retirements. As the global need for talent grows, even China's and India's educational systems will not be able to produce enough qualified graduates for themselves, let alone act as safety valves for the rest of the world. But the heart of this issue is the seldom understood fact that the education-to-employment system worldwide is badly out of date. There are three socioeconomic forces driving countries to a talent showdown: demographic declines, skills gap, and cultural bias. Across America, numerous community-based organizations and nongovernmental organizations have been at work for more than a decade expanding business-education partnerships.
By Edward Gordon The Global Talent Crisis Contrary to popular opinion, there are plenty of open jobs. What’s missing are candidates with skills. ANGEL HERRERO DE FRUTOS / ISTOCKPHOTO We are in the midst of a global job discouraged to even look for work or struments. The tech-based U.S. econ- and talent upheaval, the most re- file for unemployment, and the num- omy failed to invest enough long- markable of any job and talent ber of people working part time who term resources to educate the change since the Industrial Revolu- wish to work full time, that figure nation’s youth, preparing them to tion and encompassing every aspect now approaches 15%. Some 9 million work in the next wave of emerging of the global economy. people in the United States only have science, technology, engineering, or The dawning of a new industrial part-time work, up 83% from a year mathematically based (STEM) jobs. age, a period characterized by a ago. Part-time workers account for While much attention has been fo- growing need for highly skilled tech- almost 20% of the workforce. That cused on how many millions of low- nical workers, is driving this revolu- number, too, will likely go up by skill U.S. jobs have been outsourced, tion. From now through the next next year. There will be jobs in 2010, little notice has been paid to how dec ade and beyond, this need will but highly skilled and educated many millions of high-pay, high-skill grow at an unrelenting pace. This workers will have an easier time in a tech jobs have been outsourced to new age will require the reinvention highly competitive environment. Europe, Japan, Singapore, or other of the education-to-employment sys- This is a familiar refrain; we’ve countries with well-educated labor tem. Simply put, we need to prepare been hearing alarms about the skills pools. Meanwhile, U.S. businesses more people for jobs that are now be- gap for years. But if ever there was a are importing STEM talent from ing created by an ultra-high-tech time to get serious about helping abroad using H-1B visas to keep the economy. In the United States alone, workers acquire the right skills, this nation’s tech-based economy operat- this high-tech age could spur the is it. ing. economy to a GDP of $20 trillion per The United States has outsourced year by 2019 (Congressional Budget advanced technological production, Clearing the Decks: What Today’s Office estimate), compared with a design, and management capacity. Downturn Means for Tomorrow’s little over $14 trillion now. But prog- Also, many U.S. industries have be- Job Market ress is not guaranteed, and the boun- come over-reliant on H-1B “specialty ties of success will not be evenly dis- Over the last 10 years, the real U.S. occupation” visas to import workers tributed. economy did grow. Unfortunately, from overseas. However, over the In the United States, the official too much of the wealth created was next decade, U.S. companies will unemployment rate is projected to based on short-term financial specu- have trouble building new high-tech top out at near 10.5% by 2010. Fac- lation all around the globe and the factories in high-skill counties like toring in the number of people too manipulation of exotic financial in- South Korea, Japan, or Germany, be- 34 THE FUTURIST September-October 2009 www.wfs.org cause their workforces will have be- 5.6%, 3 million jobs remained vacant need for talent grows, even China’s gun shrinking. In fact, many coun- (i.e., jobs advertised for six months and India’s educational systems will tries will probably bring more or more that remain unfilled). The not be able to produce enough quali- production into the United States if vast majority of vacant jobs are fied graduates for themselves, let they can locate communities that STEM related. They require a good alone act as safety valves for the rest have developed appropriate high- high-school education, plus special- of the world. But the heart of this tech workforces. ized postsecondary career education, issue is the seldom understood fact At the same time, U.S. firms will two-year or four-year college de- that the education-to-employment still seek to use H-1B visas to bring grees, one- or two-year college occu- system worldwide is badly out of engineers, t
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