A few years ago, the motto of the Ford Motor Company was, "Quality is job one." Today, many readers of this magazine might revise that to say, "Jobs are job one." In its most recent twice-a-year survey, the Michigan State University Institute of Social Policy and Research found that 80 percent of respondents said job security was their first concern (Michigan Public Radio interview, 2/25/04).

Given the media coverage, no reasonably informed person on any continent can claim that people are unconcerned about employment. Among many workers, emotions are running high. Some are certain that recent trade treaties have moved their jobs out of their communities and countries. Others insist immigration has eroded job opportunities. Studies show that technology has increased productivity so much that additional workers in many cases are not needed.

I'm reminded of my brother's experience. Soon after a big promotion to a management position in a Fortune 500 company, he was laid off because his entire area was outsourced. For a year, he struggled to find a job. Then one day he took his old Chevrolet in for service. The brake lights didn't work right.  The dealer wasn't able to repair them promptly, and this gave my brother, an electrical engineer, an idea for a business that could perform that function in a better way. One thing led to another, and 25 years later that business sold for over $40 million.

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There's a PLACE for you
April 5, 2004

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