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Unemployed questions
by Jon Andrews
2009-12-15 07:31:27
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American unemployment is around 10 million, yet despite what we hear in the news, the economy is booming in some parts of America.  But it may not be the American population who are benefiting from this rise from the financial meltdown of over risky investments.

The housing market has been making the news more than any other economic subjects.  Having just been through a first home purchase in California, it's clear there are still competitive markets.  House values are down resulting in low real estate inventory.  The result is that house prices as higher than they should be in this economic climate.  Desirable houses in Silicon Valley are selling within a week over the asking price with multiple offers for the seller to choose from.  With mortgage rates at an all time low, little gain from having money sat in 1.5% savings accounts, those with money are able to make sound investments.  Less than 100 miles outside Silicon Valley it's a very different story.  House prices are down as much as 50% and unemployment is high.  This is forcing the already evident gap between the working and middle class even wider.

I personally know of five software engineers who have acquired visas to move to America in the last six months.  The requirements for their visas include being unable to find the talent in America.  So with all of these unemployed, are they specifically in some areas or job sectors, of course!  The technology sector is trimming fat but it's still growing strong.  Many of the top technology companies; Cisco, eBay, Google are growing and have strong stock prices. As these companies grow they want to hire the most talented staff, not simply fill the open positions.  They're willing to wait for the right candidate.  It's not uncommon to see positions for technical roles open for six months while endless rounds of interviews are carried out to find that candidate that it worth the large investment of a new employee.  It's also easier than ever to get a visa to work the America.  A condition of the financial institutions bail out money was to prevent them from bringing workers from abroad on visas and instead use the mass of unemployed financial workers from other failed institutions.  This freed up a huge number of visas for other industries.  It used to be the case that a visa application, such as H1-B, needed to be filed on April 1st before they ran out in May,  to be ensured a visa that didn't become active until that October.  This year, H1-B visa's are still readily available, even after October, and can be obtaining in less than a month.

What's becoming clear is that American universities are not producing high class graduates in the way that Europe and India are.  My personal opinion is that students are fighting to be accepted to universities but to do so need to be "well rounded".  The result is that students lack the depth in their major subject.  The number of computer science graduates I see who elected to take introductory classes in law, business, art or physiology over core computational classes is alarming.  This strive to be "well rounded" has been beaten into high school students for decade and is now costing the local population and bringing in stronger talent from abroad.  Ask any parent of a teenager in America if they spend their evenings and weekends driving between swim team, soccer training and debate club.  This will always make their child more fun at a drinks party; in their thirties but it is doing little to improve their chances of getting a good job out of college. Even with the relocation and visa costs it seems the investment is better served by a deeper rather than broad skill-set.

Employers are also inundated by applicants for open jobs, making a five page resume/CV listing ever paper, debate and society seem unwieldy.  If your resume isn't two pages long and can be consumed in under a minute it'll go in he rejection pile.  More and more companies are using aptitude, programming and mathematics tests to guarantees that the talent they are about to hire is the real thing and didn't just take an interviewing class.  It's the skills required to pass this kind of scrutiny that is emphasizes outside America.

So what is happening in the heart land of America?  It appears few Americas actually know themselves.  The jobs for which cheaper workers can be found abroad have gone, the homes they could barely afford are at risk due to badly sold and traded mortgages.  My advise would be to take the risk now and move to an area showing growth in one of the coastal states.  With the current growth in technology and industry the support infrastructures of transport, services and retail will surely continue to grow.

The American dream does not yet appear dead, it's maturing along with the country as a whole.  Gone as the guarantees of a house with the white picket fence in blissful suburban life.  In it's place dense city living, small lot suburban developments but all the services, amenities and Starbucks Lattes you can imagine.  However, your neighbors are more likely to be foreign workers than ever.

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Emanuel Paparella2009-12-15 15:05:13
"What's becoming clear is that American universities are not producing high class graduates in the way that Europe and India are."

And yet the latest I have read about this, is that 8 out of 10 of the best universities in the world are not in Europe or India but in America. Maybe you mean that foreigners are taking better advantage of them than Americans? But that is a different issue.

O course all technocrats all over the world would like to reduce education to training and transform the University into a vocational technical school, but what keeps Americans universities still on top is that they don't only teach technology but liberal arts and humanities as an invaluable legacy humanizing and truly educating the whole man and preventing him from becoming a trained Philistine with a huge salary to brag about and with which to look down at those who do useless things like writing poetry and painting and philosophy.

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