December 23, 2010

Looking for Someone (Something) to Blame?

One of the biggest reasons that finding a job has become harder is that we now automate many jobs that were once held by human beings. Check out this article about how robots ensure that catalog companies ship your holiday orders in time. Back in the day, humans picked those orders, and maybe even earned overtime during the busy holiday season. But not anymore.

NOTE: I'll be taking the next 10 days off to spend time with my family over the holidays. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you in 2011.

December 20, 2010

Making Sure Your Kids Develop Practical Skills

With an iffy economy and an uncertain economic future, you can't go wrong teaching your kids practical skills. But if you don't have the time or the experience to do this, there's another way to make sure the job gets done. This blog post has the answers you need to raise kids with practical skills if you can't do it yourself.

December 17, 2010

Making Sure Our Kids Will Have Options...and Hope

Just watched the heartbreaking PBS special "Close to Home" (watch free here), which describes what people are going through in this recession.

Especially striking is the fact that most of the people looking for work are looking to work for someone else, yet sending out hundred of resumes with no luck. The only person with some semblance of security (albeit reduced, thanks to the poor financial shape of her customers) is the person who is self-employed.

It's sad to see people without hope. When you rely on others (employers, the government), you have that sinking sense of having no control over your situation. Those who aren't afraid to try self-employment (admittedly a scary proposition after 20 or 30 years of working for others) are the ones who still have options, and hope. We need to plant the idea of self-employment in our kids' heads so they'll always understand that they have that option!

December 15, 2010

Even China Has Unemployed New College Grads

That's right; we're not the only ones churning out college grads who can't find work. China has the same problem, and these young people are caught in a bind: they can't find work in the city, but they don't want to return to the country, where there is nothing for them.

The moral of the story? A college degree is no guarantee of work. It's a new world, and there are no automatic solutions to finding work that pays enough money to live comfortably....even in the world's biggest booming economy.

December 13, 2010

Young Entrepreneurs Finding Success

Here's a great article you'll want to share with the young people in your life. It describes young adults who have decided to bypass the traditional (and currently bleak) world of working for someone else by starting their own businesses. Using today's technological tools, many are finding financial success, and all are learning to rely on themselves instead of an employer. Smart kids!

December 10, 2010

Just Because a College Offers a Certain Major....

....doesn't mean the major provides a degree in an industry that offers any hope of growth, or a future job.

This article made me so sad because I was once a journalism student. While I don’t believe I was as idealistic as some of the students quoted, I enjoyed every bit of my journalism education, and looked forward to a career in journalism. A lousy economy at the time of my graduation ruined that dream for me back then.

Today, these kids are graduating into a lousy economy and a deteriorating journalism scene (the original version of this article included comments from recent journalism grads who can’t find work). The rise of the Internet and the clear bias of American media have resulted in newspapers dropping like flies. Yes, there are far more writing opportunities online than in print, but they pay less, too. It’s much harder to make a living as a journalist now than it was 30 years ago when I graduated during the Carter years.

Yet the professors quoted in the article let the students believe that “it’s all going to be ok” when they surely know better. Gotta keep those paychecks coming in, I guess. (Same reason so many colleges and universities inflate grades these days, but I digress….)

The moral of this story? Just because a college offers a specific major does not mean your child will be able to find work after obtaining that degree. Help your child make a wise career choice. Check out specific careers and their predicted futures at Most of all, don’t believe the hype of colleges that need to keep a certain number of warm bodies coming through their departments in order to maintain their own employment.

December 8, 2010

College Grads and Unemployment: Will This Affect Them for Life?

The rate of unemployment among recent college grads has doubled, and many of those who have jobs are not working in their chosen field, or even in a job that requires a degree. Will this experience scar them for life or make them stronger? You decide.

December 6, 2010

Our Kids’ Competition for Future Jobs

When I hear that the unemployment rate is still going up, my immediate thought is for our kids and their future. We’ve been told that many of the jobs that were lost aren’t coming back due to technological change and offshoring. So how will our kids make a living? Will they have to deal with long periods of unemployment in their lives?

Those concerns are why I’ve written my new book, but talking to two of my children who are working adults has given me hope that things won’t be as bad as they seem. Both of them tell me that despite the high unemployment rate, it’s still hard to find good workers. They’ve expressed frustration with job applicants who barely speak during interviews and lazy new employees who spend their time texting instead of working. (These aren’t isolated incidences; they say it’s a pattern they see every day.)

These young employees have some ethical issues beyond laziness. One new employee borrowed a customer’s coupon during a transaction to get an additional discount on her own purchase. A self-identified Christian young man hired as a manager flunked his drug test.

As a result of experiences like these, my kids (who live in different states, by the way) think the high unemployment rate reflects a large number of incompetent people who can’t hold a job. That wouldn’t apply to several people over 40 I know who are among the long-term (2 years +) unemployed. But I think they’re having a hard time getting hired because they’re used to higher pay, and their age makes offering them health insurance a more expensive proposition. As for the younger people, maybe my kids are right.

In that case, we don’t have to worry as much about tough competition for our kids. If we raise them with moral character and a good work ethic along with the skills needed to compete in the 21st century, they should be ahead of most of their peers from the start.

Note: Simulposted at Barbara Frank Online.