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Cheap labor from other countries is not killing your jobs. Lack of skills, is.

Time changes everything. With the help of the great equalizer (technology) what was once the rule, is now the exception.

As business activities expanded during the last decades (let’s say the 90’s and 2000’s to have a point of reference), most of the decisions about where to build production units were based on labor cost. Especially in industries which required labor-intensive production for their goods and services.

But, technology advanced. Today, 82% of global goods trade is not materialized from a low-wage country to a high wage country. [1]

To put it in another way, only 18% of goods that are traded between countries are based on labor-cost arbitrage. What is that? It’s a fancy way to explain exports from a country whose GDP (per capita) is 5 times or more smaller than the GDP of the country receiving those goods.

That’s because consumer demands from manufacturers and service providers have changed. People demand better quality and service. Technology also requires skills to apply it. So, cheap labor is not the answer to most of those requirements. Access to skilled labor, access to natural resources, the quality of infrastructure, and proximity to consumers are among the main considerations of management today.

As the years pass, this effect will become even more profound. The rising wages in developing countries, automation, AI, will present even more challenges both to the employers and the employees. The employers will have to shift from a labor-intensive mindset, to a capital (investment) one. And the millions of employees will need skills to remain employed. Skills they don’t currently posess. It’s easy to blame cheap labor for all of our problems. But, this argument is not relevant anymore. We need to stop demonizing and begin training our current and future workers, employees, professionals, service providers.

The clock is ticking. The next decade will bring big changes to the way we work. We need to be prepared.

[1] McKinsey Global Institute: The future of trade and value chains, Jan. 2019

Veggie Cuts

“Nice one, Polly… Really-really nice…”

The banged up van was driving fast down Sunrise Highway, on its way to Freeport High. Polly was nervous. Sitting in this deathtrap with 7 more people on a Sunday night, she started questioning her choices.

For the last 23 years, cows, pigs, and poultry were born infected with the “C4L1” virus. Nobody knew its origins, but it was there, and it was incurable.

Four years ago, a small company called “Veggie Cuts” offered a solution. Vegetarian products that tasted like meat, and were virus-free.

“C4L1” or “CALI” as people started calling it wasn’t deadly. At least that was the official story. Everybody knew it would eventually kill you (one way or another), but there was no definite correlation. And that was the alibi meat companies needed. Meat was cheap. So people ate it. And public school cafeterias with small budgets had no choice.

Then, 2 years ago, a group of college students calling themselves “The Nine”, decided to take action. They started protesting, boycotting, and suing meat companies.

It didn’t work. Nobody cared.

So, they started promoting “Veggie Cuts” products (burgers, “chick”-fillets, sausages) to make people realize it’s time to stop killing themselves. People still didn’t listen. It was time for more extreme measures.

They picked 3 High Schools (one in LA, one in Colorado, and one in New York). They would load 3 trucks with products, and put them inside the cafeteria freezers. Each truck would be accompanied by a van full of volunteers to carry out the mission. And Polly found herself into one of these vans.

She told the group she was in for the cause. And yes, she did care about food quality. Who wouldn’t? But the real reason was her shyness. Polly was never good with people. Her parent’s divorce and moving around the country because of her mother’s job (a VR experience designer) didn’t help much. So when “The Nine” invited her to join, she said “Yes!

And then there was Nick, the group’s leader, and her crush for him. Maybe if she stayed close, he would finally notice her.

“Stupid, stupid Polly…What are you doing? …”

She was nervously tapping the floor with her foot, when the van reduced speed and turned right into Brookside Avenue. She looked outside the window and saw the school’s baseball field. They had arrived. The van passed in front of the main building and then turned right again into the school parking space. Nick opened the van’s side door:

“OK everybody, let’s do this.”

Everybody got out. The place was empty. The smell of spilled beer and fast food garbage was quite strong.

Game night…Right…” Polly thought.

She could see the football stadium in the distance.

The white truck carrying the “Veggie Cuts” pulled in, and parked next to them.

Nick’s cellphone buzzed.

“What? Crap… OK, thanks for telling me.”

“What’s the matter?” Polly asked.

“The other two groups failed. The cops got them.”

Everybody turned around and looked at him, worried.

“How did they find out, man?” Paul, the truck driver asked Nick.

“I don’t know guys, and we don’t have much time. Let’s go!”

Paul opened the truck’s doors, and pulled out 4 big trolley carts.

OK guys, start loading”.

The whole group started loading the carts. It took them about 2 minutes to finish. Then a guy everybody called “JJ”, started walking towards the back of the building:

This way people …

Are you sure you know where we are going?” Nick asked.

Please man. Freeport Alumni here, class of 2079!

The group followed him quickly across the parking lot, to the back entrance. Nick picked the locks, and they went inside.

JJ took the lead.

Follow me.

Five minutes later, after passing a few walls with dented lockers, handmade posters for school events, a trophy case, and some dark and empty classrooms, they entered the cafeteria.

OK everybody, you know what to do”.

The rest of the group started emptying the meat products from the freezers, and replacing them with “Veggie Cuts”. Nick gave Polly some stickers.

Stick them to the front of the buffet line, so that the students know they are eating Veggie Cuts today.

But, won’t the staff notice the difference?”

“The boxes are unbranded, Polly. They won’t know what they are serving. They just don’t care.”

“Cool!”

Ten minutes later, the job was done. Everything was in place, and all the meat boxes were loaded on the trolleys ready to be disposed.

Time to go, people.

Everybody smiled. As they started walking to the exit, Nick turned to Polly:

Good job Polly. How do you feel?

That…was…awesome!!” Polly replied loudly.

Everybody laughed.

But, as they took the last turn towards the exit, they saw red and blue lights blinking in the distance.

You are surrounded” a voice yelled.

Put your hands up, and walk out slowly

Everybody froze.

This is your last warning. Come out with your hands up”.

Damn it, how did they find us?” Nick asked himself.

Do what they say, people. Live to fight another day.”

As they walked out of the building, they saw 4 police cars and a police van parked. Officers were pointing their guns at them.

On your knees. Hands behind your heads”.

Everybody complied.

How did you find us?” Nick asked.

Next time you decide to use a stolen truck, remove the tracking pods, genius”, a sergeant replied.

Seven hours later, the group was escorted to the court to face punishment. As they were waiting outside the court room, Polly looked at a newspaper left on the chair next to her. The title read:

Freeport High students demand the ban of all meat products after Veggie Cuts makes it into their school cafeteria.” “NO MORE CANCER IN OUR FOOD!”

“Oh man, my mom is going to kill me.”

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Story Type: Flash fiction

Length: <1000 words

Based on this article: https://thehustle.co/missouri-law-meat-alternatives/

 

Who wants to live Forever? Apparently enough to fund a $200bn. Industry.

Freddie wasn’t the first one to wander, when he sung “Who wants to live Forever”. The topic fascinated us for thousands of years.

Our efforts to develop anti-aging compounds increased during the last decades. All of them failed. Recent #medical breakthroughs though, have helped us explain better why we age, and increase our average life expectancy. As a result, we experience a massive influx of capital and research into the #anti-aging market (now worth 200 billion dollars according to a Citi Report).

Today, research teams concentrate on hereditary and other cell factors. One of the most promising routes is a group of drugs that attack “senescent cells.” These are the cells to blame for a series of aging, as well as degenerating conditions like #Alzheimer’s. Studies suggest that by eliminating these cells, we can increase our lifespan by up to 35%!

The first company to offer a treatment is Unity (NASDAQ: UBX). They are testing a compound called #senolytics with patients suffering from osteoarthritis. If this #drug gets approved, it will disrupt both big and small brands promoting products for this condition. Add to this the knee-replacement surgery market (3million surgeries/year by 2030) and you can see how big the impact of new technologies will be in the next decade.

#Technology is also a major disruptor of jobs and their future. Hundreds of millions of jobs will be lost in the next decade because of technology and #automation. At the same time, millions of new jobs will be created. #Healthcare related jobs will be at the top of that list. McKinsey predicts that by 2030, “there will be at least 300 million more people aged 65 years and older than there were in 2014″. As lifespan increases, people change their spending habits, and this will lead to a whole new demand for medical and healthcare related professionals. Doctors, nurses, personal care aides, the list is big and it will continue to grow as new demands are created. McKinsey estimates that healthcare related jobs will increase up to 85 million new jobs by 2030.

Technology will make a lot of professions obsolete in the next decade. It’s a good idea to start thinking about alternatives in order to survive this shift. Especially for young people planning their studies, this process is even more important. As more traditional professions (like lawyers, accountants, real estate agents) will start to suffer the consequences of the new AI world, it’s good to have options. Healthcare and medical research is one of those. Especially when institutions like the NYU make their Medical schools tuition free!

Off to listen to some Queen now.. Have a great day, everybody.