Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Thoughts about InnoVenture: A bad day for Luddites

InnoVenture 2005 was a smashing success. The energy in the room was electric. But then I am biased.

It is always good when others who are more objective comment on your work. Mary Ann Pires wrote an interesting editorial about InnoVenture 2005 in the Greenville News. Her comments are very complementary about InnoVenture, for which I am very grateful. Her thoughts did spur a few thoughts of my own.

Mary observed that InnoVenture was "A Bad Day for the Luddites." The historical Luddites were not wrong to be very concerned about the Industrial Revolution. There are winners and there are losers when economies shift, and the Luddites knew that they would be losers and fought hard to resist it. Who can blame them?

If you are a 55 year old textile worker with a high school degree, today's Luddite, you have a real problem and what is occurring is very scary. Going to Greenville Tech and training to become a nurse practitioner is probably not a real appealing option.

It is easy to say that the economy as a whole will benefit from change, especially if you personally expect to benefit from that change, but one of the real challenges we have to acknowledge and deal with is the transition for people that otherwise will get run over. One of the main issues that derails the discussion of having more innovation in public education, for example, is the challenge of those least likely to benefit, who are likely those who are already the least fortunate. We will not make progress as a community unless we find ways that no one gets left behind.


Laura Morris said...

Greenville Tech doesn't have a nurse practitioner program, but there are many health careers that your unemployed textile worker could get into that should be appealing--most pay better than textiles and he would get the bonus of filling a real need in the community. We should be encouraging people who have lost jobs and are frightened about their future, not making fun of them.

Swamp Fox said...

Textile manufacturing is not filling a real need in the community?

Greenville Tech does have nursing programs, though perhaps "nurse practitioner" is the wrong vocabulary.

Nothing said here makes fun of anyone. The point is the economy is in a transition, and there will be winners and losers. The transition is tougher on folks who are late in their careers and will find it difficult to transition to a new career regardless of what that is. I sympathize with their plight, and think we all have an obligation to pay attention to their needs to make sure no one gets left behind.

Anonymous said...

Textile manufacturing is not filling a need in the community that could not be met elsewhere. Textile companies came to SC for basically the same reason they are not moving out of the Country--cheap labor. Those who have careers in direct provision of health care sources are meeting a community need that can't be outsourced, and there is a severe shortage of skilled healthcare workers.

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