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Does America Still Work

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Essay title: Does America Still Work


Outsourcing has become a resource utilized by American companies to remain competitive in today’s global economy. There has been much discussion about the loss of American jobs due to outsourcing and free trade organizations. Many of the articles in this case deal with identifying two remedies: education and training, and flexibility. Experts in the field vary widely on what is the best practice and what these terms mean for the American worker. There is also a range of opinions on who is helped by adopting these practices.

The changing American worker

Outsourcing has become a popular option for many American companies. First, American companies do not have to compensate foreign workers as much as they do in the United States. In addition, American companies do not have to provide benefits such as costly health and retirement benefits to foreign workers. Therefore, outsourcing American work has led to job loss for many Americans. In the book, The World Is Flat, Thomas Freidman, a world-renown author and journalist, concludes that in the future, there will be plenty of jobs in America. He claims that individuals and companies have become globalized and that workers will need to make themselves untouchable or irreplaceable. Friedman sates, “This requires not only a new level of technical skills, but also a certain mental flexibility, self- motivation, and psychological mobility,” (Friedman 2006, p.278). How the American worker survives the results of free trade, globalization, NAFTA and the outsourcing of manufacturing will provide the basis for both individual and national economic sustainability.

Osterman (2004) calls for a change in public policy as far as the public employee and training system, because the demographics of the workforce are changing and because private industries no longer have an overriding interest in maintaining large, stable, vertical workplaces. Therefore, a new method to train and educate the American workforce must be developed. Osterman’s argument is that since the private sector has renounced the development of the American workforce, it is the responsibility of the public sector to perform the necessary training and education to prepare the workforce. Ideally, it should be a collaboration of both sectors, because in the end, it is the private industry that benefits from a trained and educated workforce. Some mechanism needs to be implemented to have private industry share the burden with the public sector.


While Friedman calls for newly skilled workers, his specific definition is not so clear. Rather than lay out specific skills and competencies, he attempts to define qualities that need to be developed. In chapter six, Friedman (2006) discusses such intangibles as being able to collaborate and orchestrate with groups of workers, suppliers, customers and others. These skills will be required to work in global chains. He then states that “synthesizers” will be required to put together ideas for new and innovative products and services. After these synthesizers have been adopted, the American worker will need “explainers’ to distribute these innovations to the rest of the public in a way that the public can understand them.

Friedman’s visions of “new economy” workers include leverages, adapters, and personalizers. All of these concepts and ideas have merit, but Friedman is short of explaining exactly how a person will be able to fulfill these roles through educational preparation. It is essential that American workers learn new skills; their education is an important asset in preparing for globalization. American workers need to adjust to such changes. Education is a major factor in American success, and by teaching new skills to workers, outsourcing will become less of a threat to the American worker. According to James Beardsley, CEO of Master Lock, Americans have to distinguish themselves in the global workforce. “The American worker has to say, “I’ve got a skill; I’ve been trained; I can do things that workers in other countries can’t do. And the worker needs to rely on that skill…I think the American worker can be confident of his future,” he says (Frontline-Does America Still Work?).

In his article, As job market advances, so can American workers, J.L Alssid suggests that the country should have policies and programs that help workers obtain college education and technical aptitude. A state and local governments should make this idea a part of their local practice, because “employers rank a qualified workforce at the top of their list when choosing a business location,” (Alssid, 2007, p.29).



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