Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What the Man Wants

Interesting bit from Tom Friedman's account of a tour of America's "heartland." He is interviewing Ron Woody, county executive for Roane County, Tennessee, home to half of the Oak Ridge laboratory:
It turns out that it’s not that hard to train someone, even with just a high school or community college degree, to operate an advanced machine tool or basic computer. “Factory managers would say, ‘I will train them and put them to work tomorrow in good jobs” requiring hard skills, said Woody. “The problem they have is finding people with the right soft skills.”

What are those soft skills? I asked. “Employers want someone who will get up, dress up, show up, shut up and never give up,” Woody responded without hesitation. And there are fewer workers with those soft skills than you might think, he added.
In a deep, long-term, philosophical sense, is it good or bad for a country that such people are in short supply? Do the virtues that make a good factory worker make a good citizen? Or do people need to compartmentalize, acting one way at work, another way at home, and some third way politically?

Meanwhile I will say this about Trump's victory: it has gotten a lot of elite globe-trotting types like Tom Friedman to take a serious interest in places like Austin, Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, and Roane County, Tennessee. In that sense Trump's voters may have been onto something.

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