Symbolic analysts

How do you plan to earn your living? Some skills will be in demand, while others … Think!

A simple essay on Robert Reich’s ideas about the future of work. I have copied it from here.

Reich (Robert Reich) was the nation’s 22nd Secretary of Labor and is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. His latest book is “Supercapitalism.” This is his personal journal. If you are interested in his books, I might lend you one or two of them 🙂

Reich uses the term of “symbolic analysts” to describe what he feels one
of the three main job classifications of the future will be. The symbolic
analysts will be someone who is a problem identifier, a problem solver, or an
innovator who can visualize new uses of existing technologies. This class of
workers includes scientists, engineers, and other scientific or technical
specialties as well as marketers, investors, some types of lawyers, developers
and a wide variety of consultants.

The symbolic analysts will have a high level of education, both in the
classroom and on the job experience.

Reich believes that this new, actually redefined, class of workers will
be the best bet for job growth and success into the next century. Opportunities
for job growth will remain rather high. This is a result of two factors, a
slowing growth in population and the future retirement of the baby boomer
generation (Reich, 203). It is not the number of jobs in the future that is the
problem, its the quality of those jobs. On the whole, Reich identifies two
trends in job quality. The number of mundane, manufacturing jobs will decrease
as well as the number of in-person service jobs e.g. bank tellers, but growth in
the number of symbolic analytical positions.

The loss of repetitive manufacturing is primarily a cost saving plan of
American corporations. Corporations seeking to lower their costs of labor move
their large, low-skilled manufacturing to points all over the globe in attempt
to find the lowest wages. Replacement of some in-person services is attributed
to technological change. Examples of this cutting of numbers can be seen in the
blossoming of automated teller machines, unmanned self service gas stations, and
home shopping capabilities.

The symbolic analyst, however, contains a commodity that is both
valuable and irreplaceable. This is the human thinking and problem solving
abilities that is becoming ever more important in international business.
Specialized groups of problem identifiers and solvers will sprout all over the
globe, selling their services to a wide variety of customers. This growth might
not seem beneficial for America in the traditional sense, as analysts will work
for foreign companies just as easily as American ones, but the intangible gains
of knowledge and experience stay within our country. People cannot be shipped
and marketed as easily as a new VCR.

The interesting point of Reichs theory for the future is that it offers
no easily visible solutions of raising the standard of living for those who
reside in the United States. In fact, I believe his symbolic analyst will only
enlarge the growing income inequality between the rich and poor. Unless you
are benefited by a high education and superior thinking abilities, your
potential to earn good money in the future is dark indeed. With fewer low skill
jobs around, those who are not prepared will be scrapping to find enough work to
get by. Meanwhile, the symbolic analyst, with respect to their abilities, could
be raking in the dough.

Reich suggests that the United States is in the best position to capture
the growth of the symbolic analyst, allowing for the coming boom. The U.S. has
the best university system on the globe. While most elementary education is
still backward, there are also some schools which prepare young minds for their
futures as analysts. The U.S. also has an advantage over developing countries
in that the analyst has been here already for some time. There are specific
zones of learning and innovation already present in our country that will take
years to develop elsewhere. This gives the United States a jump-start heading
into the next century.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by jsu on June 13, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I feel that Reich’s theory that “symbolic analysts” are going to be a solution to America’s unemployment problem as pure folly. In the past they were called inventors and they created opportunities for the masses. We don’t need 100’s of thousands of Americans sitting in their ivory towers thinking we need ideas for products that will put America back to work, not shipping our work to foreign countries and exploiting their workers.

    Capitalism without a conscience is worse than socialism. Greed is killing America.


  2. Posted by Jack on July 3, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Symbolic analysts are needed at every level of the design, engineering, and manufacturing cycle. Each step along the path to getting a new product out requires problem-solving, communicating, etc., etc. Any well paying job requires problem-solving, planning, and working with others. Thus, even the UPS delivery guy has to make decisions getting the product to your door. But, do we invest in our American human capital. I think not. Rather, only the rich, now subsidized with lower taxes, can afford to send their children to those expensive private schools and universities, and they are all expensive when your folks don’t have the cash. Who has the cash then?


  3. Posted by ACL on August 1, 2012 at 5:10 am

    How arrogant, whoever wrote this article; to maintain that the USA has the best university education in the world is a very generalised statement to make. Obviously the person writing this doesn’t seem to be able to think outside of a narrow sphere. Moreover going to the best places for education does not guarantee that one can do the job. Experience and maturity still counts in a world obsessed with MAs, PhDs and dare I say it ‘symbols’ rather than the real world.

    A case of form over content?


  4. Reblogged this on aura9585 and commented:
    Symbolic analysts – robert b. reich


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