I recently read Max Brooks' World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. I don't normally go in for horror or zombie stories, but this is a funny, clever and thoughtful commentary on our times. The book is written as a series of transcripts of interviews with people who survived the "zombie war," modeled on Studs Terkel's work. Imagine my surprise to discover that World War Z has a workforce development chapter.
After America was devastated by the zombie war, a "Department of Strategic Resources" was created, charged with rebuilding the nation's infrastructure. The first head of the Department remembers some of the major workforce challenges they ran into:
To be perfectly candid, our supply of talent was at a critical low. Ours was a postindustrial or service-based economy, so complex and highly specialized that each individual could only function within the confines of its narrow, compartmentalized structure. You should have seen some of the "careers" listed on our first employment census; everyone was some version of an "executive," a "representative," an "analyst," or a "consultant," all perfectly suited to the prewar world, but all totally inadequate for the present crisis. We needed carpenters, masons, machinists, gunsmiths. We had those people, to be sure, but not nearly as many as were necessary. The first labor survey stated clearly that over 65 percent of the present civilian workforce were classified F-6, possessing no valued vocation. We required a massive job retraining program. In short, we needed to get a lot of white collars dirty.
Even zombie story writers understand the importance of investing in workforce development.