Disappearing Jobs, Does It Matter?

Sign dollar and the books on scales. 3D image.Last month I attended the Vistage International Conference during which Michael Milkin presented the Milkin Institute research on the changing U.S. demographics.  I was struck by the data change in the number of unskilled jobs. In 1950 there were 3 unskilled jobs for every 1 skilled job. Today, there are 4 unskilled jobs for every 1 skilled.

Michael postulates that this is the reason why the American dream is dead – it used to be you work hard and you get ahead. Today while hard work still matters, education and skills come first.

In my opinion, this also explains the sticky unemployment numbers.  At the same time, my Vistage members tell me  finding talented people continues to be challenging. In short there is a war for talent, while millions remain unemployed.

You might ask, so what is the leadership question? Isn’t this a global problem, not a leadership topic?

Here are my leadership related wonderings:

  • At what point does it become cost effective for companies to create their own educational programs?
  • When and how will it become cost effective for small/mid-sized companies to provide training via entry level unskilled jobs?
  • As robots continue to replace workers, what will be the impact on small/mid-sized companies capital requirements?
  • As the mismatch between job opportunities and qualified employees grows, how might this impact both immigration and emigration?
  • As the world becomes less dependent on geography, how might employers match their jobs with qualified individuals worldwide?


Elisa K. Spain