What do you need to create good jobs? The answer is not “more of the same” education

Different educationIn a recent article, with the by-line, “What happens when good jobs disappear? It’s a question that has been asked for centuries”, Dr. Paul Krugman states, “Today, a much darker picture of the effects of technology on the labor is emerging. In this picture, highly educated workers are as likely as less educated workers to find themselves displaced and devalued, and pushing for more education may create as many problems as it solves”.  “Sympathy for Luddites”, Paul Krugman, The Global Edition of New York Times, Page 9, Saturday-Sunday, June 15-16, 2013,

In this description Dr. Krugman uses the commonly used version of “technology” (i.e) Digital Technology. The real world of technology is far larger than mere limitations and constraints of DT. The industrial society has to come to the realization that Technology in its broader context is an integration of Science, Engineering and Management of any phenomena of nature. This broader view of technology opens limitless possibilities for the educated work force. Absent such Transformation in their learning and thought process the broader range of educated work force – and their educators  and the society at large – will not be served well by the constant evolutions in DT. This is not to suggest that DT is a detriment. Instead it has to be used wisely and prudently with technology pertaining to other fields to create a stream of new solutions.

We agree with Dr. Krugman in that the opportunities even for the highly educated is limited to a narrow set of jobs, where knowledge is integrated from everywhere across the globe (using DT as an enabler for such integration) and hence create a constant stream of “New” solutions. There will also be a large range of low wage jobs, where the skills of educated work force is not much needed, thanks to standardization and de-skilling of the work and as a result automation and outsourcing of the jobs. Most others – in the middle – will find uncertainty and loss of economic competitiveness as the norm, which we have come to accept as the crisis of the middle class. For details on this emerging Binary Economy and the Transformational Skills to cope with that please see:

https://stimsinstitute.com/2013/06/19/new-book-authored-by-dr-subramanian-and-prof-rangan-has-been-published-by-asme-press/

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New book authored by Dr. Subramanian and Prof. Rangan has been published by ASME Press.

Thriving in the 21st Century Economy:
Transformational Skills for Technical Professionals

By
Dr. K. Subramanian and Prof. U. Srinivasa Rangan

Subbu Book 2Thriving in the 21st Century Economy: Transformational Skills for Technical Professionals, co-authored by Dr K. Subramanian, President, STIMS Institute Inc., USA and Professor U. Srinivasa Rangan, Luksic Chair Professor of Global Studies, at Babson College has been published by the ASME Press. Copies of this book can be accessed at any of the following links:
http://www.amazon.com/Thriving-Century-Transformational-Technical-Professionals/dp/0791860167/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371673516&sr=1-1&keywords=Transformational+Skills+Subramanian

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thriving-in-the-21st-century-economy-k-subramanian/1115191210?ean=9780791860168

https://www.asme.org/products/books/thriving-21st-century-economy-transformational

Below is the link for the image of the cover of the book along with reviewer’s comments:

ASME_Subbu_Cover_FINAL5

The following is a short summary of the book:
Technical professionals, represented by the short hand STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), face a crisis, especially in the United States. Fewer American students are interested in pursuing these disciplines in college. Even many professionals currently working in these areas discourage their children from following them into their profession, since they see few attractive and financially rewarding jobs and careers when compared to the IT or financial sector. As research budgets shrink in the public and private sectors, many professionals feel that their contributions are not valued. Some blame the outsourcing fad for this and some others believe that foreign professionals are taking their jobs. Amidst all this, senior managers in major industrial and technology firms expect technical professionals to manage their own careers rather than help the professionals to develop their abilities for such career management.
Drs. Subbu Subramanian and Srinivasa Rangan address these concerns through three critical and related questions:
1. What is the nature of the challenge facing STEM professionals in the twenty-first century global economy?
2. What are the reasons for it?
3. How should STEM professionals manage their careers in the future if they want to lead a professionally fulfilling and productive life?

At the outset, Subramanian and Rangan assert that, since the 1980s, the workplace in most industrial companies has been undergoing a rapid transformation largely due to two factors: globalization and business model revolution. Globalization is described as the outcome of Global Capitalism combined with evolutions in Digital Technology. The business model revolution is seen as the result of disaggregation of the value chain and its disbursement across the world. These new business models require a new type of professional skillset. The result of these two trends are pushing more firms to rely on a small cadre of high quality professionals to be problem solvers or solution providers and a much larger group of professionals (even with lower levels of technical skills as required), to be replicators of those solutions across the globe. As more firms across the world adopt this new model of workforce deployment, a binary labor force is emerging. The first part, consisting of leading technology professionals, specializes in creating and implementing new solutions. This is enhanced through the use of DT solutions, which aggregates information from across the globe. The other part of the labor force, required for lower skilled jobs, is finding their functions further de-skilled and de-localized because of DT driven automation and off-shoring. There appears to be no middle ground, which in the past employed a large number of technical professionals. All STEM professionals now face the challenge of adapting to this binary economy that is becoming the hallmark of the twenty-first century.

STEM professionals are experiencing angst because of their transition to new roles in this binary economy. Many who have invested years getting trained at advanced levels and acquiring specialized skills suddenly feel unable to create new solutions that are considered valuable.
Subramanian and Rangan argue that STEM professionals need to become exceptional and relentless solution providers. They must be able to identify new opportunities, convert such opportunities into complete and integrated solutions, and maximize the benefits from these solutions. These skills are not purely technical or managerial. Instead they are a combination of skills pertaining to Science, Engineering and Management. These Transformational Skills are:

• Identify a problem or opportunity and frame it as a “need”:
• Develop a Common Language
• Three Dimensional view of Core Capabilities and their deployment:
— As an individual
— As part or member of a team
— As part of the company or enterprise
— As part of the industry/community
• Develop the need into a “Solution”:
• Integrate Knowledge from all available sources (across the globe)
• Place emphasis on “Science”; Relentlessly use Portable Diagnostic Tools and methods, Analysis
techniques and Analytics
• “System Thinking”: Focus on the big picture and not merely on the pixels;
• Deploy the Science/Engineering/Management pertinent to the “solution” simultaneously (The
System Approach); Emphasize on mobile/portable diagnostic tools.
• Synthesize: Connect the dots leading to the “Solution”; Emphasis on Core Technology driven
ecosystems.
• Exploit the “Solution” and maximize the benefits:
• Focus on “End to End Innovation” = Idea X Use X Impact
Measure innovation in a scale of 1 to 125 (= 5X5X5 and not 1 to 5 scale in isolated silos). “Branding” as an outcome of End to End innovation
• “Emotional Intelligence”:
Find ways to be useful to others, which in turn benefits you.
Co-create value; I open the door for you, and you let me in as well.
Focus on end user (Customer) benefits as the primary goal and driver for innovation and entrepreneurships.

The authors then describe the roles of individual professionals, organizations, management, the Government and the educators. Each player is called upon to understand these Transformational Skills and integrate them into education as part of a Life Long Learning strategy. The authors conclude that this education is the only reliable pathway enabling technical professionals to thrive in the 21st Century economy.