/blog > archive > January 2013

mrroboto

Although the economy has technically been out of recession for about three and half years, a number of important indicators have severely lagged behind economic growth in showing any improvement. Over the past many months we have observed how long it took to show any improvement in the employment picture, and have questioned whether the improvement we have seen means all that much — only to conclude that some improvements really are improvements. Even so, unemployment remains  higher than we would like for it to be (7.8% last time I checked). While we have avoided the “jobless recovery” scenario, this lingering high unemployment rate may well represent deeper, structural changes to our economy. The robots may, in fact, be stealing our jobs. But if they are, they haven’t stolen them all…not yet, at least. We should note that  unemployment is not the only indicator that needs watching. Investor’s Business Daily…

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middle-class

The Associated press is sounding a warning similar to one that we’ve been issuing for some time now: Recession, tech kill middle-class jobs NEW YORK (AP) — Five years after the start of the Great Recession, the toll is terrifyingly clear: Millions of middle-class jobs have been lost in developed countries the world over. And the situation is even worse than it appears. Most of the jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well, say experts who study the labor market. What’s more, these jobs aren’t just being lost to China and other developing countries, and they aren’t just factory work. Increasingly, jobs are disappearing in the service sector, home to two-thirds of all workers. They’re being obliterated by technology. Year after year, the software that runs computers and an array of other machines and devices becomes more sophisticated and powerful and capable of doing…

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lonelydesk

Brian Merchant at IEET provides a shocking statistic: Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon Are Worth $1 Trillion, but Only Create 150,000 Jobs Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook combined account for over $1 trillion dollars of market capitalization. Yet they only employ around 150,000 people total. That’s less than half the number of people who work for GE. And it’s roughly the number of people that enter the U.S. job market every month. In other words, it’s a farce to believe that tech giants, internet startups, and app developers will ever be able to employ the same number of people that manufacturing once did. It’s astounding to consider that so much market value can lead to relatively so little employment. If every employee of the companies listed makes an equal contribution to the trillion-dollar bottom line, they are each kicking in about $6.7 million worth of value. That’s not too shabby…

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schoolkids

I was attending a meeting at an elementary school in Boston yesterday. I entered the building through the wrong entrance and stood right in the middle of the canteen just as lunch was starting. It was chaos. Here is what I noticed; every single kid was smiling and so happy. The school I was at was an inner city school and the majority of these children were African American. The school was under funded and, from what I saw, in desperate need of those funds but every single kid was smiling and so happy. I have a son who attends an elementary school in a district of Greater Boston that is a leafy suburb. The majority of children at his school are white. Last week when I meet him from school a similar scene to the one I saw yesterday hit me, namely chaos. Just like the inner city school…

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p_office_people

I was talking to a former colleague today who is in the final stages of interviewing to join a start-up, because he said it’s “way too slow and boring” working for the large company that currently employs him. This sentiment is common among Gen Y employees, who seek fun and challenging experiences at work and see frequent job and career change as the new norm.   In a recent post, Key Consulting Group says that many Gen Y works think that traditional career paths in large corporations are dead end streets that are really not going to get them motivated. The result is that many large organizations are concerned about who their future leaders might be, as baby-boomers are retiring and many of the younger generation lack the necessary skills and experience to fill their boots.   The Key Consulting Group post goes on to say: “One report in the…

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Time is money

Is it true that more and more men, even lawyers,  are unwilling to sacrifice personal time for professional goals? I have a close friend who comes out of a large law firm who expected him to commit 80 hours a week. I showed him this article. He viewed the article with a certain level of skepticism. Anne C. Weisberg, a talent director for Deloitte, explains in the article how and why their organization has instituted a cutting-edge approach to the work environment called Mass Career Customization. It includes the following points: Changing family structure. Department of Labor statistics reveal that in 83 percent of households both the husband and wife are now in the workforce. Increased numbers of women workers. Looking at the legal profession alone, women make up at least half of law students—yet personal versus professional demands and the lack of career satisfaction lead many of them to leave…

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fredturner

McDonalds legendary CEO Fred Turner started life as a grill cook in an outlet in Illinois and worked his way right to the top. On that journey he also invented the McNugget, a fact my son is ever thankful for. This rapid rise from customer facing minion to leading one of the largest enterprises in the world inspires many to strive for progress within the large companies they work in. BUT this example is absolutely the exception and not the rule. Matthew Gwyther is editor of Management Today and says “Most large firms expect their executives to spend a week or two on the shop floor to learn how the business works – and that is more than enough.” Brian Wheeler of BBC News Magazine adds: There are plenty of examples of executives who have worked their way up from humble beginnings, particularly in industries such as retail and catering…

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phdsonfoodstamps

This infographic from onlinecolleges.net, America’s PhDs on food stamps, highlights an important (if troubling) reality: if ever there was a time that simply staying in school or generally pushing ahead with gathering credentials guaranteed economic viability, that time has passed. Simply put, it’s not enough to have a PhD, or a law degree, or an MD, or to become a CPA, or even to get your GED, for that matter — your skills, experience, and credentials have to be aligned with work that someone is willing to pay you to do. Without that, it’s all for nothing. Please include attribution to OnlineColleges.net with this graphic. Choosing a career path can’t be strictly about applying your aptitudes and passion… at least, not if you intend to make a living from that career. Is there a market for your current set of skills and experience? Are companies hiring people with the credentials…

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sigourney-weaver-in-galaxy-quest-22jsrpages1-300x165

Wired published a recent story about the take-over of robots – our jobs will, it argues, be mostly taken by robots. Its hard arguing with the premise.  Robots are improving exponentially, humans… not so much. After robots finish replacing assembly line workers, they will replace the workers in warehouses. Speedy bots able to lift 150 pounds all day long will retrieve boxes, sort them, and load them onto trucks. Fruit and vegetable picking will continue to be robotized until no humans pick outside of specialty farms. Pharmacies will feature a single pill-dispensing robot in the back while the pharmacists focus on patient consulting. I think Wired might be overly optimistic about the pharmacists.  Why would a pharmacist be better at patient consulting than an AI?  The Jeopardy-playing Watson AI is being trained in cancer medicine and will, no doubt, be a better diagnostician than Dr. House someday.  Why would it not…

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Bunnys

There’s a great thread unfolding on Quora — What is the Most Bizarre Job Interview You’ve Ever Been a Party To? Sometimes the interviewer is a jerk, sometimes the candidate is a flake, and sometimes massive weirdness descends. How weird can job interviews get? Would you believe… Rabbits. I went to an interview at a small advertising agency in West Palm Beach. I interviewed with the owner in her small private office, where she had about 5 rabbits running around, loose, going to the bathroom, nibbling carrots. Which explained the smell. At one point she picked up a rabbit and put it on her desk to pet while we were talking. I did get the job, but decided not to take it. Some of these stories are creepy: Then as the interview was winding down he said: “Do you know what I hate the most?! Someone your age driving around…

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