Go Far East Young Man!

Something Americans are not all that good at is languages, especially Asian languages.  But I suspect there are vast untapped riches in many Asian countries which could use a lot of products made in the US, products that take advantage of the technologies we have developed, and languages and cultures are major hurdles that need to be overcome.  I realize that many US companies have Asian branches that are there for manufacturing, but what have we done to develop the internal markets of these countries?  Perhaps we need a different approach that would allow us to more aggressively market there.   Or am I missing something that precludes this?
Do we need a different kind of company to address this ‘international marketing’ problem, one that places a premium on people developing skills that have before languished in universities, and not been connected strongly enough to the business world?

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6 Comments

Filed under Job Hunting, Ron

6 responses to “Go Far East Young Man!

  1. amba12

    I’d like to put another idea out there (which I have mentioned before): the “Capitalist WPA.” Why don’t venture philanthropists start up companies employing the long-term unemployed? Include ESOPs. They’d have a highly motivated workforce that would be willing to work at a discount, especially for a company they had a stake in. Any ideas about what such companies would do? Maybe some could get government contracts (fed, state, or local) for infrastructure improvement. What are some other good ideas that don’t involve government, services such companies could provide economically?

  2. kngfish

    How about all these public/private data collecting projects? Surely there could be something unemployed people could do with the gigantic data collecting ( about DNA or stars, for example ) that may help us all someday. Is there cancer research that needs just huge amounts of brute force work that people could develop varying degrees of analytical skill for? This may mean some change in mindset in both university and corporate approaches…but it could achieve several social goods at once.

  3. wj

    Something that actually needs a lot of people working at it is . . . teaching, specifically elementary school. (For what are probably obvious reasons, I’m reluctant to call it “brute force work,” even though it fits the definition we’re using.)

    Up until the 1960s, elementary education benefited from discrimination: teaching was one of the few jobs where educated women could easily work, so it ended up employing a lot of them. Which was great for the kids being educated, if not necessarily for the teachers. The rest of the workplace changed, and women got more opportunities. But not the schools (at least not for the better) — which I think is a significant part (although by no means all) of the reason for some of the problems we see in education.

    Even in previous economic down-turns, educated people were largely insulated. But this time around, there actually are a lot of highly educated people who got laid off. Especially highly educated people in their 50s and 60s, who were more highly paid (i.e. expensive) workers. And for us, getting re-hired is tough, both for the same reasons (expense) and due to prejudice (“we do new stuff and older workers can’t/won’t learn it”).

    But that means that we now do have available another cohort of highly educated workers who might be hired at (relatively) low wages to work in education. And they could do a lot of good. Unfortunately, they would first have to waste a year or two getting a teaching credential. And then deal with a workplace which is designed (IMHO) to discourage effective and innovative teachers. Still, there is an opportunity there, if we can figure out how to grasp it.

  4. kngfish

    wj, I wonder how many people could get to teach, even though there may be a demand. Aren’t there many barriers, both structural and organizational to this?

  5. wj

    The main barriers are
    1) Education requirements. To teach more than a coulpe of years (at minimumm pay and no prospects for advancement), you have to get a “teaching credential.” Which would make sense if they just taught you how to put together a lesson plan, etc. But most if it, from what I understand, is education “theory” (unconstrained by evidnece) and psychobabble.
    2) Pay structure. It’s all about seniority. Once you have the credential, and get past any probationary period, there isn’t much you can do to control your career. (OK, you can have sex with a student and get caught. But not much else will get you tossed.) Your pay is based on your seniority. Doing the job well is irrelevant.
    3) The organizational structure is built around tenure and seniority. To deal with people coming in to teach stuff that they learned over a career somewhere else would require redesigning that.

    The above relate to elementary school and high school. You have a lot more flexibilty in community colleges — having experience in what you are supposed to be teaching is actually a plus for getting hired. Except that your chances of getting into a track for a permanent position depends on how well you play politics, not on how well you teach.

  6. WJ-the other thing they teach you in those teaching classes (at least back when I was doing them) was discipline and how to control your students so you can teach. It’s not as easy as it looks! Ultimately that’s why I failed out of teaching- I knew my subjects, was passionate and had good lesson plans…but my students never knew that, cause I couldn’t control the classroom effectively. Teaching these days is 80% discipline and control. And there are more of them (who have been taught that teachers/public school sucks) than there are of you.

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