The Labour Shortage

Posted to HotWired 27 Mar 98

Speaking from Canada, where we don't care about the U.S. labour market except when lower paid American workers undercut our wages (so it's nice to see the goose get gandered...):

Yes, there is a labour shortage. This was clearly demonstrated when my managers couldn't fill my partner's position (now I'm working for two, but that's another story...).

Seems to me that a logical response to the problem isn't to slam headhunters, or rail against foreign workers, but rather, to address the cause of the problem. And the cause, in my mind, is that there are too few educational opportunities.

Governments in my country - and probably the U.S. too, but I don't know - have been cutting back on college and university budgets for the last decade or so. Unless you are well off, or your parents are well off, or you win the lottery, you cannot afford a decent post-secondary education.

Countries which want to play in the high-tech sandbox are going to need trained citizens. There's no way around this: headhunters and foreign labour are very stop-gap measures and by no means a permanent solution.

Countries which want trained citizens are going to have to put more cash into the educational system. An education - especially one using today's expensive high tech toys - is not cheap, and is generally beyond the average working stiff's means.

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