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Tomorrow's industry and the people to run it

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How can societies put to work the army of ''structurally unemployed'' mentioned above?

* Marshal available people with present skills to do work that nations need done. No free country would adopt China's almost military mobilization of citizens to build an ''infrastructure,'' to use the fashionable term. But China strikingly reduced chronic seasonal unemployment - and increased farm productivity - by enlisting peasants in off-season work such as erecting irrigation dams, planting trees, and constructing terraces.

The US is matching workers with needed work in a small way through a new version of the CCC - a legislative program to match young people with conservation projects. The public and private sectors could fruitfully get together to revitalize America's declining infrastructure of roads and bridges, for example, through hiring older people, too.

* Reduce the disparity between encouraging investment in equipment and encouraging investment in people. In the US the government's tax credits and other investment incentives for capital and technology have been calculated at six or seven times the incentives for training and improving the quality of the work force.

With Europe's recent steel subsidies in the news, it is interesting to note that they were not given free to the producers. They were contingent on such industry efforts as relocating and retraining workers - similar to government-industry bargains in Japan.

An example of private initiative in aiding displaced workers came from a British sugar refiner that had to close refineries and end jobs because of a shift from imported cane to home-grown beets. The company acted as a banker to invest in enterprises ready to give ''first refusal'' jobs to the laid-off workers.

* ''Customize'' training for present and future jobs. This is part of the trend toward cooperative education through which businesses and schools work together in preparing young people for entry level jobs which they have some assurance of obtaining. Unlike some European apprenticeship programs for jobs already overfilled, customized programs seek out employers' specific requirements and provide the training to meet them. Oklahoma, Georgia, and South Carolina have been prominent among 30 states developing such programs.


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