Succeeding in a Global Era of Change
How can the United States ensure that globalization works to the benefit of all Americans?
April 16, 2008
1. How do Asia and the United States perceive trade differently?
“Much of the world — especially Asia — continues on a path to liberalize trade practices. They’re on a mission to create the top-end jobs that are increasingly the product of a global, digital era.
“On the Western side of the world, the United States seems to be mired in a debate on whether we should set a course to race to the bottom. The question becomes, is the global economy something America should fear?”
2. When it comes to trade, is the United States stuck in the past?
“Given all this open-trading momentum, I have to smile when I hear populist commentators or political candidates talk about taking back jobs that have been outsourced to other countries. There is an implication that if we choose to, we can go back to a late 20th century America and that we can stop this 21st century merry-go round and just get off.”
3. Does the United States have to worry about being left behind?
“The U.S. economy is still the largest in the world, but some of the fastest-growing trade lanes don’t even involve the United States. They are the Asia to Europe, and intra-Asia lanes. Trade within the India-Japan-Australia triangle — of which China sits in the center — now exceeds trade across the Pacific Ocean.”
4. But aren’t people right to worry about globalization?
“True it has produced some disruption just like all transformations in our history have done. And true some jobs have gone offshore. But far more manufacturing jobs have been lost in the United States and worldwide due to productivity gains than to outsourcing.
“Something you don’t hear much about is that the United States has seen a net increase of more than eight million new jobs since August of 2003.”
5. How does the Internet shape global markets?
“During the global era’s next wave, we can also expect to see people and businesses increasingly buying and selling from anywhere and everywhere on the Web.
“Web users are expected to increase from a billion and a quarter users today to two billion three years from now in 2011. And we are going to see multinational companies expanding not just from roots in the United States, but from nations all over the world.”
6. Why are you personally optimistic about the United States in the age of globalization?
“Bottom line, the next wave of the global economy offers a lot of promise for a millennial generation of Americans who are willing to do something we have always been the best in the world at doing — adapting, learning and competing.”
7. What about those who are left behind by these changes?
“Let me answer that directly based on a specific case. A few years ago, a young man by the name of Jason Warrell was laid off as a machine operator from a company called Delphi in Ohio. He then moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where UPS is headquartered. He applied to UPS’s Metro College program.
“Through Metro College, UPS pays a salary and tuition, bonuses for good grades and provides health-care benefits for part-time employees.
“Metro College students take college courses in affiliation with several state-funded Louisville-area schools. Jason is now nearing college graduation with a business degree in management. His long-term prospects — and those for his young family — are better than ever.”
8. What else can be done to help American workers make job transitions in a global era?
“Here are a couple of retraining models that could help American workers whose jobs are disrupted in a global era. Look at a model that’s working well in Sweden. Sweden is a small country that is highly dependent on exports and the global economy. Trade as a portion of the economy has doubled in Sweden since 1970. As a result, overall productivity is high, incomes are growing rapidly — and the nation’s trade balance is running a surplus.
“At the same time, Sweden is highly exposed to the economic uncertainties and personal dislocations that are part of a world of rapid change and creative destruction. The Swedes have built a model to align with the global era that encourages global competition and constant business course corrections.
“Equally important, Sweden also provides its citizens with a strong social safety net that includes health care during employment transition and a well-funded worker retraining effort. In Sweden, unemployment benefits don’t go on indefinitely.
“If a Swede has not found a new job within 28 months of the start of unemployment benefits, he or she must be retrained in a new occupation. Sweden spends about $7,700 a person on retraining, compared to $1,800 in the United States.
“Embedded in the Swedish culture is the belief that given opportunity, citizens will take responsible attitudes about re-training for work. And indeed, a higher portion of the working-age population is employed in Sweden than in many other industrialized countries.
“Closer to home, the state of Georgia has developed a program called Quick Start that serves as a liaison between businesses seeking skilled workers and the state’s network of 34 technical colleges.
“Quick Start, for example, has helped displaced Georgia manufacturing workers train at Columbus Technical College and Coosa Valley Technical College to qualify for jobs in expanding health care fields at medical centers near those schools.
“Retraining features like those found in the Swedish model and Georgia Quick Start are worthy of our attention in helping American workers to succeed in the global era.”
9. And finally, what role does the regular citizen play in globalizing the economy?
“The bottom line is that we Americans — whether we are students, educators or workers — are living through times of great change in which global competition is the new reality. It’s not something to fear. But we do need to adapt.
“Education will play a huge role in determining whether we are going to become a nation of ‘two-Americas,’ as some believe, or — my preferred goal — an America that is twice as strong.”
"Education will play a huge role in determining whether we are going to become a nation of 'two-Americas,' as some believe, or — my preferred goal — an America that is twice as strong."
"The Swedes have built a model to align with the global era that encourages global competition and constant business course corrections."
"Some of the fastest-growing trade lanes don't even involve the United States. They are the Asia to Europe, and intra-Asia lanes."
"The United States seems to be mired in a debate on whether we should set a course to race to the bottom. The question becomes, is the global economy something America should fear?"
Chief Operating Officer, UPS As chief operating officer for UPS and president of UPS Airlines, David Abney directs all operations worldwide and a sophisticated global transportation network, including the eighth largest airline in the world. He oversees the pick-up and delivery of 15.8 million packages and documents daily to a service area that includes every […]