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Dr. Greg Segment Summary

Outsourcing, Productivity & What to Look For In a Job    

Dr. Greg Ketchum, 4/10/04

Everyone is concerned about outsourcing of American jobs to India, China & other low-wage countries. It’s a big issue in the presidential campaign. It’s the current “leading suspect” when it comes to talking about this “jobless recovery,” but it turns out that it’s not the leading suspect after all.

Many factors are contributing to this jobless recovery including…

  • Global Economy:  Puts pressure on to be ever more efficient.

  • Soaring Health Care Costs:  Makes companies hesitant to hire.

  • Uncertainty:  Terrorism, corporate scandals, Iraq & the stock market bust all have contributed to uncertainty & caution in hiring.

The Truth About Outsourcing
It’s a contributing factor in the jobless recovery, particularly now that formerly “safe” white-collar jobs are being outsourced. However…

  • Forrester Research estimates that of the 2.7 million jobs lost over the last 3 years, only 300,000 were due to outsourcing. Others put the number higher.

The Truth About Productivity
The real culprit is continuing productivity, which has been averaging 5% annual gains in recent years. Productivity is growing faster now than it did in the late 1990’s.

  • Key Fact: 1% point increase in annual productivity growth can eliminate up to 1.3 million jobs a year. Self-check kiosks at airports, smart gas pumps…

Productivity is Good: It helps to keep inflation down, wealth rising and innovation up. We’ll ultimately grow our way out of this job creation slump.

New Research Findings
Economists at MIT & Harvard looked at factors that make one job relatively “safe” from outsourcing or elimination through productivity gains and another “vulnerable.” They found…

  • Key Factor:  A job that is “routine” enough that it can be broken down into repeatable steps will little variation is a “vulnerable” job.

  • By Contrast:  The “safer” jobs are the ones that are hard to reduce to a repeatable routine. These jobs require flexibility, creativity, and lots of interaction with other people, often in management positions.

  • The Good News:  A great majority of jobs in the US are not routine.

Action Steps

  1. Look for Jobs With These Two Factors
    The job that can’t be broken down into repeatable steps and/or requires a lot of human interaction, i.e. management, teaching, sales, human resources, etc.
  2.  Improve Your Communication & People Skills
    These skills will make your much more valuable to your employer. Many companies are moving to “matrixed” organizations, which requires these skills to survive.
  3. Improve Your “Big Picture” & Business Skills
    Think about it. Your ability to “see the big picture” at work and understand how business works will allow you to see new opportunities for business and be able to personally add to the bottom line.

If you’ve got work or career topics you’d like to see us address, just send me an email at drgreg@talentplanet.com.

®2004 All rights reserved. Gregory A. Ketchum, Ph.D.

Career Advice

Dr. Greg is the “KRON 4 (San Francisco) Workplace and Career Expert”

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