Gongol.com Archives: January 2023
Large technology companies have been laying off a lot of workers over the last three or four months, with Microsoft and Google together releasing 22,000 workers in the last week. Those are large numbers for two of the most dependable blue-chip firms in the technology business, and the announcements certainly give people reason for concern. ■ "Layoff" is a word we should always treat with caution. It's a euphemism, and not a very good one at that. Yet we don't have a good alternative word to convey an essential connotation to the act: A layoff is the employer's fault, not the employee's. It's not a release for cause nor for underperformance. And it's an involuntary departure on the part of the worker. Layoffs happen because something has gone wrong at the strategic level of the company. ■ Jobs in high technology often seem like they ought to be beyond the reach of those kinds of ebbs and flows. A business degree or a tech-friendly computer or scientific degree are often seen as virtual guarantees of employability. But they, too, are obviously not immune from economic forces beyond the employee's control. ■ For all the debate that has raged around college debt and which majors are or are not "worthwhile", the best solution is probably for every student capable of the challenge to go after a double major. One major from a practical field, and one from the liberal arts. The former should make the graduate productive, the latter should make them adaptable. ■ That adaptability is going to be all the more important over time. If even the big growth industries (like high technology) are going to be susceptible to big shifts, while others (like journalism) can find themselves in employment freefall, it's only responsible to try to send graduates into the world with both the tools they will need in the short run as well as the ones that will keep them from becoming hidebound in the long term. ■ Changes are coming for most workers, and often the worst of those changes will come through no fault of their own. You could have done all the right things in becoming an automotive engineer starting in 1993 and not have foreseen that electric vehicles would someday decimate the need for your kind of high-skill work. Preparing people to earn an honorable living, both now and in the future, is a challenge for every educational institution to show they're capable of meeting.
Three cheers for this development, which is great news for "place-bound" learners -- people who can't just pick up and move somewhere else to start or finish a degree. UNI has a very highly-regarded accounting program, and Des Moines is a city where lots of them can be put to good use. Getting people who might have limited choices otherwise on a path towards a high-demand career through a reputable in-state university is a great development in serving the public.
Bryan McGrath on the ongoing saga of classified documents found where they do not belong: "Over-classification is a problem, but it is not THE problem. THE problem is people who think the rules do not apply to them."
It's hard to believe just how long some of the misdirections and fibs that parents tell their kids go on to linger in the child's mind. Always tell kids the truth. Someday you'll be old and mystified by a cultural development or some advanced form of technology, and you'll want your offspring to give it to you straight. They'll remember if you messed with them for your own amusement when they were kids and they'll be within rights to serve up their revenge cold.