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Skills mismatch and the 21st century Skills mismatch and the 21st century
by Joseph Gatt
2020-09-06 09:33:54
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The 21st century is rather different from the 20th century. Let's just say that we went from magazines and typewriters to websites and keyboards and from social clubs and churches to chat rooms and Google searches.

I was going to write a “history of the 21st century” but that would be a good title for a good book, not an article. So over the next few weeks, you will get the occasional paper on social change in the 21st century.

This one is about the labor force skills mismatch with 21st century technology. What do I mean by that? The rest of the article will be examples of that.

skil001_400_01-Proliferation of communications means vs. lack of mastery over those communications means.

What the hell should I write on my Twitter feed? On my Facebook feed? Should I contact my client by giving him or her a phone call, should I send an SMS, or should I message them on Whatsapp or Viber, or should I send them a Telegram message, or a Snapchat message, or some kind of video message?

OK folks, here's how it works. It's the MESSAGE that's important and not the means. That is, you need to hire people who can write (or communicate) the message clearly enough, not people familiar with all those messaging platforms.

So what I would do if I were a company is I would put a couple (or more) people in charge of communications exclusively. Or I would hire talent that in addition to all the required skills, have excellent written and verbal communications skills.

Communications skills are underrated and rarely mentioned in job descriptions. Moreover, a lot of companies will tend to hire people who have trouble with communication and expression, simple because those who communicate clearly tend to be more likely to unionize, share corporate secrets and challenge the power structure.

In sum, you either hire people who specialize in turning gibberish into communication, or hire people who in addition to their job description, can write English (and other languages) and not gibberish.

Bonus: if you can hire people who communicate in ways that attract clients rather than repulse them, that's a plus.

-Proliferation of data vs. inability to make sense of the data.

Here's the deal folks. No one wants cars made in Turkey or Romania (I am half-Turkish and a patriotic one at that, but it's the truth). No one wants technology made in China (my made in China printer that cost me 130 bucks never worked, keeps swallowing paper, scans blank pages, and is plain delusional).

So if you have all that consumer data yet can't make sense of the data to build better cars, better printers, or offer better consumer products in general, what are you using the data for, then? To figure out which employees watch porn and which ones criticize their boss?

In sum, corporations could use the data to derive a general sense of how business is going.

True, consumers (and businesses) are “stupid.” People drive made in Turkey cars that break down after a couple of years on good roads, then they'll throw their made in Turkey car to the junk yard, and, uhm, will lease another made in Turkey car! Now that's two car payments, and in a couple of years time, that will be three car payments!

But you can't fool everyone all the time. If data is ignored or used against consumers, soon enough, we will all be eating beans and rice, and steak will be a luxury for everyone from the CEO to the blue collar worker.

-Proliferation of financing means vs. lack of knowledge and expertise about all those financing means

Here's a joke. My banker wants my paycheck. It's true!

I once had a male banker give me the killer stare, order me to sit straight like a general, and force me to purchase all these useless banking products and insurance products and loans and what not, and forced me tos shut up. Fortunately, I did not have ID or a passport with me, so the guy got really mad, told me to come back. I came back to close my bank account and withdraw what I had left in that bank account.

Corporations deal with the same nonsense! You own a business, and your banker is going to want your profits.

Yet, most corporations do not have financial experts, and rely on “financial expert” firms who are often more interested in consulting fees than in helping your business thrive financially.

In sum, you want to hire financial experts. Because real financial experts are very, very rare, you want to hire people with moderate financial expertise and you want to nurture them, by having them learn as much as they can about finance, and then keeping them on the job.

-Proliferation of sales platforms vs. lack of knowledge on how to use the sales platforms.

Just like financial products, there are new sales platforms every day. That is no one can claim to be the “financial expert” because new financial products are being developed this very second. No one can claim to be the “sales expert” because sales platforms are being developed this very second.

So you want to hire someone who can identify those sales platforms, see if they really work, see if there are really clients on the other side of the aisle (or if they're more like dating sites, lots of dudes, no gals, lots of Indians and Nigerians pretending to be gals).

So when I chat with salesmen and we discuss all these sales platforms, I like to use the example of how, many years ago, I joined a dating website. I explored the website a bit, and after spending a few hours on the site, realized there were really probably 15-20 legit girls in the neighborhood (by the neighborhood I mean the whole continent of Europe), the rest seemed to be scams or prostitutes or both. And the legit girls seemed to have disappeared long ago and did not seem to check their notifications.

In sum, you will need a salesman or a team of salesmen who know what's hot and what's not when it comes to new sales tactics and devices, while relying on old sales tactics that work just as well.

-Proliferation of marketing schemes vs. lack of expertise in those

Here's the deal. If I know what book I want, I go to Amazon.com. If I want to check out what books are trending, and am not sure what I want to read but want to glance at the titles, I go to the bookstore.

Yet a lot of bookstores want to be the physical version of Amazon.com. A lot of bookstores went bankrupt trying to put every single book that's ever been published on display.

Bookstores, supermarkets and other retailers do not understand that people purchase online when they know more or less what they want. But when people want to do a mixture of window shopping and real shopping, they go to the real retail stores.

That is a lot of companies think marketing is a joke and will hire the pretty blond (or pretty Asian gal) to take care of marketing. Uh-ah, marketing is a serious deal.

-Proliferation of machines, eagerness to adopt them, no one to fix them

When you're going to adopt a new machine because you are from Korea and Korea is about high-tech and Koreans must always own the latest technology to become World number one and convert the rest of the world to Koreanism... uhm... you need to find people to operate and fix those new machines.

So the Koreans will drive their engineers into craziness and resignations (and the engineers will end up getting some job teaching kids how to fix old machines).

Just like you want to give your marketing adviser a lot of power and responsibility, you want to give your engineer a lot of power and responsibility when it comes to adopting and using machinery.

-The world is not a trinity

In China, Japan and Korea, in times of crisis, leaders like to offer three “solutions” to the crisis. For example the President will say “I, as president, ruler of my people, king of the heavens, decide that our economy will focus on biotech, microchips, and future cars.” And the Israeli kid says “zeh lo nachon” (that's not correct).

The economy is about diversity and diversification, and is about a diversity of good products.

No one wants Chinese printers because they don't work!

If you want your economy to grow, make printers that work!

So if your future cars don't work, no one's going to drive them.

A lot of people have misunderstood this idea of “knowledge economy.”

Here's an example of knowledge economy.  If you want to build those future cars, you have to keep in mind that some countries have excellent roads, others have sandy roads, others have bumpy roads, others have dented roads, others have hilly roads, others have snowy roads. Some people drive 6 miles a day; others drive 300 miles a day. Some cities have light traffic, others have dense traffic. Some have a huge proportion of one-lane roads; others have a good proportion of four or eight-lane roads. Some people are risky drivers, others are safe drivers. Some countries have bitter cold weather (and that freezes the motors and all that) and others have desertic heat weather (and that uses the rubber and what not).

So the knowledge economy is about getting to know the different consumers and the circumstances in which they will use the product.

If you can make printers and say “buy this one if you like to print books, or purchase this one if it's more like 3 page documents that you print out every now and then.”

I bought a 130 dollar Chinese printer that does not work (from a famous brand). Oddly enough, in 2003, in France, I bought a brand new printer for 20 Euros (a promotion) and it worked perfectly for many, many years, and I think I only had paper jam problems twice in the 7 years I used that printer.

Plus, that 20 Euro printer even had an app I could use where it would turn my handwriting into script (actually that app didn't work very well and mistook “r” for “t” and other defects, but still). You get the idea.

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