Why is it so difficult to coordinate some things? Obvious necessary social requirements are very frequently left unattended, and can have and usually do have dire consequences. This is about my frustration with some countries that leave the regulation of the job market to its own forces. Tackling this issue is fairly easy, and the necessity is more than evident. …
The problem with the job market, and the need to regulate it, is because of the latency in the information. And by that time it is too late. Those affected by it don’t have the resources to find solutions, hence: unemployment.
Now let me elaborate in the form of storytelling.
There’s a girl in high school or college, contemplating her future. She’s probably smart, and is going through her teenage philosophical phase about what the purpose of life is. She comes to a convoluted conclusion that her life is best served if she contributes to the society in the best way possible. The most effective way that can be reached according to her is if she does something she loves to do. Let’s say hypothetically, she’s the kind of person that likes to do research, and also likes to write as well. So, a creative but patient and attentive person as well. Good with letters and numbers too. So she decides that when she grows up, she wants to be a journalist. All of that finding out information, and writing about it, or maybe reporting can be fun. Maybe not that monetarily rewarding, but fulfilling.
She goes to university, and studies journalism, and comes out with a diploma. By the time she finishes university, she finds out that the job market is flush with people with journalism degrees, and that no one is hiring. She finds out that the art of reporting is on the decline, newspapers are shutting down, blogs with little or no paying reporters are on the rise, and that her chances to live off her trade are slim to none. Then she picks up a newspaper, and reads a report that one of her university friends that was lucky enough to find a job has written that there is a high need for doctors, nurses and engineers. She does some research and finds out that even junior positions for engineers or nurses are paid a lot, in contrast to what journalists are living with. She is enraged, and she regrets her journalism degree, and thinks that she should have gone with her other talent: numbers.
She doesn’t waste a second, goes and sells the house her grandparents left her and uses that money to put herself through an engineering degree. She goes through the four-five years it takes her to earn that, and by any means is that route easy! However, during her degree, immigration laws have changed in her country, and there is a huge influx of highly skilled engineers that emigrate and fill in that gaping hole in the job market. By the time she graduates, that demand for engineers has subsided.
She’s not thick, while at university, she knew about the immigration changes, and everything, but what was she to do? Quit? She was close to graduating; and you don’t quit after 2 or 3 years of engineering school!
This is the case for most of the people that live in these countries where there is no system to regulate work force demand and supply. Unless you’re lucky enough and become a medical doctor (yes, there’s always a need for doctors somewhere!)
How difficult would it be to create a database where public bodies or private companies can contribute to and express their plans/needs for the workforce? Or how about using public statistics and see how many people are going to retire, what their profession is, and logically come to the conclusion that they’re going to need replacements.
It’s not difficult to also register the publicly known plans of private companies that are expected to expand or build a factory, or whatever their need! How difficult is to communicate that information to the public, so that they know what they’re getting into.
I would go as far as say that it should be a right to know this information, so that when deciding your future, you know what you are getting into. E.g. there is zero need for interior designers; if I go to design school and become one, I should have no expectation of finding a job! That is reasonable!
How about going one step further? Usually, well a better term is ‘always’, universities are regulated, and countries usually have ministries of education that do that job. How about using that centralised regulatory authority to dictate the number of students of given fields that can be accepted? This way, some universities may become more specialised in a specific degrees, or can more effectively route their finances. If there is no need for economists or lawyers, how about not accepting 2000 per year (in a country of less than 2 million people)? But for some people that may be too liberal and limiting. So maybe not do that, so that dreams don’t die.
What this blog post is referring to, is just the communication of information about the job market, because there is a minimum 3 year gap to regulating demand. Why? Because if there is demand for engineers or nurses or whatever, you have to communicate that demand, so that people that want to do that job can apply to the educating institution knowing that providing for oneself or for their family is safer after that education is complete. That even works as a motivating factor!
If society wants to function better, this is a necessity.
But wait! What about the negative aspects of this idea?
Well, I’ve invested a couple of days into thinking the negative aspects of this argument that I’ve laid out above, and they’re not that good. One would be that many people’s dreams would be killed. Well, if a lot of people have the same dream then it wouldn’t pan out to become much of a dream now would it? Nobody dreams to grow up and end up a factory assembly line worker.
Another argument would be that considering the globalised world that we have become, we should not interfere with people, and if unemployment for one profession exists in one country, those unemployed can just migrate to where they’re needed. In theory, it’s a good idea. You can have ideas of determinism (in terms of the blank slate theory) and argue that people from one region may be more talented in one thing than those in other regions. It would be theoretically true if this ‘globalisation’ thing happened forthwith. Arguing that may be true if people lived in isolated areas and were raised and adapted to different surroundings, but even then it is quite a stretch. So yes, I know; this is a really bad argument, but it’s difficult to find negative aspects!
Finding more negative aspects is difficult.
Therefore, we can conclude that for the better functioning of society potential university undergraduates have to (not ‘should’) have this information before undertaking a degree, or better said, a life choice. Even if universities are not limited in their numbers in accepting students, at least the students can make an informed decision. Considering the sometimes useless and not that effective areas that governments invest in, this is probably a piece of cake to achieve. You probably don’t even need to build this from the ground up. You can use different government agencies that are already involved in collecting statistics and use that information more effectively.
So, as with other things that are indispensable to society, usually the government will step in and try to do a better job when someone private, or when some private collective finds a solution and starts doing it. Let’s just hope that the government doesn’t ruin it.