Monday, August 09, 2010

A Solution To Joblessness

Several weeks ago I read a Bloomberg Businessweek article by Andy Grove, former chairman of Intel, the technology company, in which Grove contends that the major reason that U.S. domestic employment and the economy haven’t yet rebounded is because we have sent our jobs to Asia. Manufacturing creates large numbers of jobs, he says, and as things became cheaper to produce in Asia, we shipped our manufacturing overseas.

Conventional thinking is that becoming a knowledge and service economy is more desirable than manufacturing, and Grove implies that various thought leaders in journalism and government saw the migration from manufacturing as a higher calling. If I recall correctly, Tom Friedman supports this point of view in his best-selling book, The World is Flat, which advocates a global perspective and the need for retraining American talent to focus on innovation.

According to Grove, however, this line of thinking is a major mistake. While he agrees that jobs do come from start-ups and government action to ignite more of them would be desirable, he urges the U.S. to rebuild its manufacturing economy, as there is no sector that produces jobs in the hundreds of thousands like manufacturing. Grove believes the economic issues will take care of themselves through the momentum derived from the major job surge that manufacturing can provide.

Grove’s reasoning makes eminent good sense to me. There is no need to stop building our knowledge and service economy, but it is probably true (even though I do not have statistics at hand to prove it) that the population of jobs provided in those sectors is unlikely to rival those that could be created by a major influx from the manufacturing sector.

Assuming that research bears out Grove’s contention, which I believe it would, what can public relations do help stimulate this reversal in thinking?

First and foremost, public relations can effectively develop a campaign to get the message out broadly among the business community. The popular business press is a critical channel, but so are magazines known for intellectual leadership, such as The Harvard Business Review. We need business and government leaders speaking out at economic clubs and before manufacturing organizations. The National Association of Manufacturers and other such organizations could be effective policy leaders. Perhaps Grove’s article needs to be expanded into a book—with extensive evidence—that is widely marketed to build persuasive acceptance. Social media can also play a key role.

As the political debate charges forward, let’s take Grove’s point of view into account. Beyond this one story — and an op-ed by columnist Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post — I have seen no references to the topic. For most voters the single most critical issue facing the nation right now is high unemployment. Bold action is needed to solve that problem.

Technorati Tags: Bloomberg Businessweek , Andy Grove, Intel, Tom Friedman, The World is Flat, communications, public relations, Makovsky


Post a Comment

<< Home