Globalization in the Service Sector? Gulp!

Donald Trump persuaded lots of folks that he can “make America grate again” by managing trade to protect jobs.

That tells you something about the fears people have about losing their jobs. And it tells you something about how disenfranchised those folks are. They were willing to be taken in by a con man and a bounder because his message was the only one in town.

Here is some bad news. Trump is not likely to save any jobs at all. And the disruptive effects of globalization will get much more severe when it hits the service sector. In case you didn’t notice, that sector is much larger than the manufacturing sector.

What to do? Richard Baldwin has some cogent thoughts. One of these is that we need to start thinking in terms of people instead of jobs.  On jobs

We shouldn’t try and protect jobs; we should protect workers. It’s really a fool’s errand to struggle with (keeping jobs) because after a year or two those jobs will still go. Either they will be replaced by robots or they’ll move to Mexico or China. If Carrier becomes inefficient from being forced to stay in the US, its business will go to competitors in Japan or Germany.

On people

We have to look for inspiration from northern European countries who have comprehensive retraining, help with housing, help with relocation. Typically they have the unions, governments, and companies working together to try and keep the social cohesion. It doesn’t always work, but at least they try and most people feel that the government is helping them.

And one more thing

We need to change the education system so you spend less time when you are young learning to be hyper-specialized and more lifelong learning. The jobs that will still be here will require face-to-face skills and making networks of human interactions work. Telepresence and telerobotics won’t replace those.

Got that? Good!


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