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Cafe Society to discuss the increasingly futile search for jobs

By Staff | Feb 5, 2016

The next session of the Cafe on Tuesday, Feb. 9 will discuss significantly reduced demand for labor in the globalized economy. There are national and international ramifications that are being driven by the same social and economic phenomena. The Cafe Society is a part of Shepherd University’s Life Long Learning Program. These informal weekly discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University Student Center each Tuesday morning. Pre-registration is not required and there are no fees or charges.

Cafe facilitator Mike Austin shared, “As we struggle to emerge from the recent world-wide recession there is growing evidence that those corporations that can regain competitive positions within their economic sectors do so by pursuing a different economic model. There is in effect a “new normal” that places far different values on labor, both in terms of quality and quantity. Manpower has become in many cases the most fungible component of the commodity production or service process. As a result relationships between employer and employee have been significantly altered. Where in the past successful corporate policies and procedures recognized and systematically invested significant amounts of intellectual and material capital in the work force, the professional bond is now much more tenuous. The price is seen in the loss of shared commitment both up and down the chain of command. There are a number of factors that drive this complex equation. It is very dynamic in nature and heavily influenced by the speed at which new technology integration, supply and demand assessments, responsive retooling or reorganization, and other necessary adjustments can be accomplished. The pressures are intense. All aspects of the business model can now be micro-managed with computer-aided analysis. Full time manpower equivalents (FTE’S) can now be broken down to essential components. Man hours and benefits can be, and are often separated and the 40-hour work week doesn’t necessary pertain. Job security has in effect become an oxymoron.”

Austin went on to say, “While this may sound, and is very depressing, the grim reality is that it is largely a result of our own successes. We simply can out-produce, out grow, better serve and meet the diminished needs of our society with less and less manpower. And if having a job is your only feasible means of earning a living, you may be out of luck. ‘Under’ rather than ‘Un’ employment may be the prevailing problem in the future. We appear to have a small time window where the U.S. economy is out performing its international counterparts, but that may close quickly. Unfortunately there are already significant portions of our American society that are no longer viable as families and as productive, employable workers in the emerging extremely competitive international workforce. I hope some of these compelling issues will emerge in the current political campaign. Meanwhile insight and pragmatic thinking from the ground up might be helpful. Come join us.”

Those with suggestions for future Cafe Society topics or who want more information about the Cafe Society program, contact Austin at 304-876-0598 or michael.austin@frontiernet.net.