Future of U.S. Jobs: Too Many, Too Few Skills

“The picture of the U.S. economy that emerges is of abundance and
poverty,” says Edward Gordon. “Abundance of labor, poverty of talent.”
In other words, despite high unemployment rates, the United States does
not have enough people to fill the jobs that should be created
and an oversupply of people to fill jobs that are or should be obsolete.

The economy now sits in a hole more than 10 million jobs deep. How
and when we can climb out of that humongous pit seems to be the linchpin
for a full-blown economic recovery. According to Gordon, author of “Winning
the Global Talent Showdown
,” the United States is headed for this
major talent meltdown with 12-24 million vacant jobs between 2010 and
2020, mostly high-paying, high-skilled jobs.

The canary has been singing in the coal mine for several decades,
warning of our growing lack of talent as we enter a transitional
labor-market era. Partially due to ignoring the warning and partially
the result of the most recent economic crisis, businesses and
governments are now confronting a day of reckoning: prolonged
joblessness for the unskilled, low-skilled, and under-skilled. “We’ve
been hearing alarms about the skills gap for years,” according to
Gordon, president of Imperial Consulting. “But if ever there was a time
to get serious about helping workers acquire the right skills, this is

Unfortunately, change in the way we train and educate workers and
prepare students for the future is not what you’re hearing in the news.
What we’re getting is the same old theme of denial. To reboot the
economy and sustain growth, we can’t just reframe existing jobs. We need
to stop creating jobs that employ the current talent pool of low-skill
workers. Instead, we need to stimulate middle and high-skill job growth
and start creating talent. Gone forever are the days of semi-skilled,
well-paying blue-collar factory jobs that can provide a 19-year-old
dropout or high school graduate with a living wage. Today, counting on a
low-skill manufacturing or service job to keep you in the middle class
is as sensible as buying a BETA tape for a Blu-Ray DVD player.

According to Gordon’s research, “between today and 2020, it is
expected that 74% of all jobs created in America will be high-paying
jobs for high-skilled workers. While there will be a need for 123
million of those talented people, only 50 million Americans will
qualify. By contrast, low-paying, low-skill jobs will shrink to just 26
percent of the total jobs in the U.S. Worst of all, just 44 million
people will be needed for those jobs, but 150 million or more candidates
will be seeking those jobs.”

You can read more from the full article I just wrote for Business2Business Magazine,
Jobs Won’t Return
,” on my


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