Saturday, September 29, 2012

Zakaria, NYTimes look at how Germany, Netherlands keep workers retrained and employed; more on Dubai

Fareed Zakaria has reported on CNN how a few countries in northern Europe maintain better employment stability than does the US or many of the more troubled countries.

In Germany, the key ingredient is employer-paid apprenticeships, such as at Siemens.  In the Netherlands, there is a concept of a “mobility center” to retrain workers, along with a concept borrowed from Denmark called “flexicurity”.  Zakaria showed how the system works at Philips.  Employers pay the difference in salary as employees are retrained for other jobs.

Zakaria explained in his one hour special “Putting America to Work” on CNN, aired several times recently.

Zakaria also explored the idea of government subsidies to specific industries, like shipbuilding in South Korea. Shipbuilding has become much smaller in the US (in the 60s, the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company was a big player while I was stationed at Fort Eustis, VA).

Zakaria also explored New York State’s support of the nanotechnology industry.

The New York Times recently explored the shortage of skilled workers in some towns and companies in Germany, by Jack Ewing (Sept. 24), “The trade-off that created Germany’s jobs miracle”, link here

All of these reports bear on the way both candidates Romney and Obama address the employment issues. It sounds as though employers can be expected to bear much more responsibility for training workers, probably closer to the Obama platform.  Government support of specific industries (even solar as with Solyndra) runs the risk of turning to pork.  CNN says “you don’t pick winners and losers; you look at the science”.

Zakaria also reported on tourism in Dubai.  I must admit that it sounds like a fascinating, otherworldy destination.  Real estate prices have fallen there like everywhere else.

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