Nicolas Colin 🇪🇺 @Nicolas_Colin Entrepreneurship, finance, strategy, policy. Cofounder & director @_TheFamily. Author of "Hedge", a book about reinventing the Safety Net. @Forbes contributor. Sep. 11, 2018 4 min read

1/ There's one thing that explains a large part of the current "tech backlash": the idea that all workers need to seek a higher level of skill.

We often hear politicians / economists lecture us on the importance of lifelong training for desperate workers who just lost their job.

2/ Western countries are the worst in that regard. That's because for them economic development during the 20th century has been synonymous with an ever more educated workforce. No wonder why lifelong education has dominated the political course so much in recent decades.

3/ But there are several problems with "more education" as the solution to every problem.

Remember Tony Blair's "Education, education, education"? People were thrilled at the time. Today, they can't stand it anymore—and they're right: it didn't work!

That's the first problem.

4/ Another problem is that even if people believe in a higher level of skill, many see themselves on the wrong side of history: when you've lost your job as a factory worker, it's difficult to imagine that you can acquire the skills to become a software engineer one day.

5/ Indeed what is worse than "It doesn't work"?

This => "It works for everyone *but me*".

No wonder why those people are attracted to populism and see immigrants as a threat: "Those immigrants are even less skilled than I am, but they have a job and I don't". Cc @Noahpinion

6/ The reason, by the way, is because immigrants, especially if they have a low level of skill, are ready to accept jobs that most locals won't even consider.

See this article about all these lousy jobs that "real Americans" won't touch: 

7/ There's a third problem: it's simply false to assume that more education for everyone is the solution to massive unemployment and widening inequalities.

We need to realize this: there will be many jobs in the future for "low-skilled" workers. But those will be very different.

8/ In the past, attractive jobs for "low-skilled" workers were concentrated in 2 worlds: factories and bureaucracies. Alas those are precisely the jobs that have been destroyed by globalization and technology.

See this extract of my book "Hedge" ⤵️  📕

9/ In the future, most jobs for those currently seen as "low-skilled" won't be in either factories or bureaucracies, but in organizations dedicated to providing care to customers: I call them "proximity services"—sectors that employ what @Richard_Florida calls the "service class"

10/ There are 2 obstacles on the path to redeploying the workforce toward proximity services.

#1 is that those jobs are not attractive—yet. We need to imagine institutions so that they become good jobs—a "Greater Safety Net", as discussed in my book  📕

11/ Obstacle #2 is that we're collectively headed in the wrong direction because we're mentally stuck in the past—in the old age of the automobile and mass production. Most people are told that they need to go back to school to climb up the social ladder of the Fordist economy.

13/ As a result, all those people are missing the opportunities provided by the new age of ubiquitous computing and networks—not factory jobs, but jobs in proximity services: education, healthcare, personal care, retail, hospitality, urban logistics and transportation, etc.

14/ It's easy to sympathize: a middle-aged factory worker has a hard time seeing themselves becoming a child carer, a Starbucks barista, or a nurse.

There are many reasons for that—see my book  of which this illustration is extracted ⤵️ Cc @tamaradraut

15/ I'm not saying that workers shouldn't pursue the opportunity of becoming developers and software engineers.

BTW it's easier than ever since fascinating ventures such as @LambdaSchool and @OpptyatWork are dedicated to enable just that cc @byron_auguste @AustenAllred

16/ But software workers are for the Entrepreneurial Age what automobile workers were for the age of mass production: they were high-skilled; they had good jobs; they represented our best idea of what work was about; but they were a tiny minority of the workforce. @bencasselman

17/ Now there are many that are working on how to redeploy "low-skilled" workers and to create good jobs for them: @JamesBessen @davidautor @Richard_Florida @kimmaicutler @timoreilly @HilaryCottam @CarlotaPrzPerez @tamaradraut @RanaForoohar @zeynepton @RogerLMartin @RBReich

18/ By the way, as explained last year by @sarahoconnor_, if we want to burnish jobs in proximity services, "we could stop calling the people who do them unskilled, for a start". Read her May 2017 article in the @FT ⤵️ 

19/ Also, don't forget to take a look at my book "Hedge: A Greater Safety Net for the Entrepreneurial Age"—a blueprint for restoring economic security and prosperity in a world radically changed by technology 🤗 [End] 

You can follow @Nicolas_Colin.


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