Thursday, February 23, 2017

Education

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The U.S. has lost five million manufacturing jobs since 2000. [..] But if you look at the facts, China isn’t taking manufacturing jobs, robots are. Nearly 90 percent of the output of these vanished jobs remained in the U.S. and was replaced by robots. Assembly line jobs disappearing should not be seen as a problem, but as a sign of progress (although it’s very tough for those who lost their jobs). Before electricity, we had lamplighters to light and maintain street lights; before alarm clocks, “knocker-uppers” would go to the home of their clients and knock on the door. Today, we want to bring back assembly line jobs that robots now perform?[..]

The Obama administration took a shot at trying to balance the difference between employer demand and skilled workers with the TechHire initiative. The goal: to expand tech talent pipelines, especially alternative education organizations that could provide U.S. citizens with IT skills.

The first $100 million pledge was passed by Congress in 2015, followed by a $150 million funding in 2016. Coding bootcamps (the technical high schools of this decade) were among the beneficiaries. They are training the next generation of blue-collar workers: junior developers who are taking jobs that require little expertise in tech, and there are plenty of those.

But our economy is rapidly digitizing, and so should our workforce. Leading companies in all industries are being disrupted by newcomers who are rethinking their businesses by leveraging software. Uber is not a “tech” company; it’s a transportation company. Amazon isn’t a tech company either; it’s a retail company. [..]

Bootcamps aren’t enough, and centuries-old college methods are expensive, slow, and inefficient. Companies that need highly skilled software engineers are starting to understand that the lack of talent will not be solved anytime soon. If we want to reduce our dependence on skilled immigrants, then we’ll have to find a way to fill this gap within our own borders or risk losing the companies who need these workers. For example, Google saw no choice but to try to solve this education puzzle itself. [..] But education is not a core competence of most technology companies. We have to find a better solution.[..]. I hope [..] Betsy DeVos, will reshape the U.S. education model to better produce the types of workers the U.S. economy really needs.