New Economy and Long-Term Jobless

The LA Times has a very interesting article about the new economy and the long-term jobless. Among the more interesting points made in the article is that workers with a college degree are finding themselves out of work longer and with fewer prospects than ever before.

As someone who has personally endured rather more unemployment than average since the Dot-Com Bubble burst back in 2001, I can certainly sympathise with these people who are spending their retirement money, taking out home-equity loans, and tightening their belts just to survive.

Dan Gillespie, a Seattle-area computer programmer, said:

The computer jobs are gone. So what’s next? We can’t all move into gene splicing.

George “Monkey-boy” Bush and other proponents of offshoring much of our technology infrastructure to India, China, and other countries, would have us believe that workers laid off as a result will find work in other high-tech industries. Experience and the abundant evidence to the contrary makes it clear that once again our Nation’s leader is either lying to support the interests of his corporate cronies or chronically uninformed as a result of his refusal (perhaps, inability) to read the news.

John Challenger, chief executive of Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said “There are more and more specialists. And if there are more and more specialists in an information economy, you get people whose skills aren’t as portable as they used to be.”

Add this to the fact that employers have become even more selective about the skills they want candidates to have and you have a recipe for the current problem of high-tech unemployment. Paul Kostek, an official with the IEEE, said “When there’s a lot of people out in the marketplace, companies can afford to say we want someone truly with this experience.”

And as everyone knows, if only from reading Dilbert cartoons, companies no longer spend money to train the employees they have much less to bring new employees up to speed.

So if you want to change careers or simply become more relevant in your existing career, you can expect to reach into your own pocket to pay for the classes. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a job, don’t expect your employer to reimburse you, but you’d better believe they’ll take advantage of your expanded capabilities. Of course, the only way to recoup the cost of training is to change jobs, because an employer will never raise your salary just because you’ve become more capable or relevant.