To reduce the persistently high unemployment rate in the United States, Congress should move to relax some of our current constraints on immigration.
This is a controversial idea because many people are under the impression that allowing in more immigrants would push up unemployment. But that would only be the case if the number of jobs in the US were an unchanging constant. Read More »
I’ve just returned from a weeklong deep dive into the frontline of societal renewal in Indonesia. In an earlier blog I shared some of my experiences with a group of Indonesian leaders from government, business, and civil society who came for a weeklong module at MIT in September. They were participants in the MIT IDEAS program that I chair, which takes leaders from society’s three sectors (business, government, civil society) on a 12-month journey of personal, professional, and institutional innovation and renewal.
This time we came together again for a weeklong retreat on Wakatobi, a group of remote islands in the Banda Sea, which is in the Coral Triangle region that is part of the earth’s second most important biodiversity region (second only to the Amazon). In 2009 (May 15 2009) six countries (Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands) signed the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) for co-managing and protecting a marine ecosystem that is home to the highest coral diversity in the world with 600 corals or 76% of the world’s known coral species. Today CTI has thousands of stakeholders from across all sectors. Sadly, since the treaty’s signing, little has been done to implement its goals at the ground level, among fishermen and local communities. This is where the story is directly linked to our tri-sector group of IDEAS fellows, which includes several key players in the CTI system.
A young woman I know did everything right in high school, got into a good private college, and landed a position in corporate marketing for a major retail chain after she graduated. While it was a good, stable job—the kind that makes parents happy—she found it stultifying and unsatisfying.
With a solid academic pedigree and good experience, she hit the job market to look for a more fulfilling career. Several months into her search, she was floundering despite a solid job market in Boston. She wasn’t sure why.
This situation is typical of those faced by millennials I talk to. This woman’s job quest mirrors a unique phenomenon of this generation: an obsession with passion and a misunderstanding of its currency in the job market.
[Question] How did you get interested in researching long-term unemployment? What motivated you to write your book and start the Institute for Career Transitions (ICT)?
[Professor Sharone] I got interested in this issue as a graduate student. I was doing a PhD in Sociology at UC Berkeley, and my initial research was actually about high-tech workers and long work hours. But at the time I was doing this research, the dot.com bubble burst around the year 2000. What was very surprising to me and to the people who got caught up in it more directly (that is, the workers), was the number of people who had done everything that society told them you need to do to be successful–they went to college, they sometimes had masters degrees or PhD degrees, and years of working experience. And yet these individuals saw themselves unemployed and sometimes unable to get to any job for months and sometimes for years.
This was all around me as a graduate student, and even though it was not yet as big or brutal a national event as came later with the Great Recession, being in the Bay Area during this time was an early experience of what was to later come in 2008. So this is how I got into the issue, and I began doing interviews of unemployed individuals. I’m a qualitative sociologist, so I do in-depth interviews with people. I began asking people about the experience of job searching, how they understood the obstacles they faced, and I came to realize that looking for work is a kind of work in itself, and it’s probably among the hardest kinds of work that exist. It’s extremely emotionally difficult–it’s essentially straight up rejection. And I was very interested in how people felt with that, and in documenting some of the pain and hardship that people described to me.
I also became interested in comparing the experience of unemployed job seekers cross-nationally. My research became driven by the question, “Is what I’m seeing among American white-collar professionals universal for similar types of workers?” That question lead to my book, Flawed System, Flawed Self, which is a cross-national comparison of the experience of job searching and unemployment for this group of highly educated, skilled workers. I learned in the process how actually very different that experience can be–the sense of self-blame, and the emotional toll can be very different depending on how one needs to look for work.
With more nonprofits incorporating each year, competition for funding is fiercer than ever. Organizations that have traditionally relied on grants and philanthropy are struggling as they look for new revenue streams to become more sustainable and impactful. While these organizations provide critical services, they often lack management resources and expertise to reach their full potential in terms of the number of people they serve. After all, how many nonprofits can afford to hire leaders with MBAs?
However, a new form of volunteerism is starting to address this need: the donation of management expertise, skills, and ideas. This is a big change from even five years ago when being civically engaged primarily meant writing a check or spending a day cleaning up a park with coworkers. This change may be due in part to the convergence of the profit and nonprofit sectors creating the emerging field of social enterprise. This shift has exposed the many ways the nonprofit sector could use operational support. As a result, “help” is becoming more broadly defined.
This new type of volunteerism — the donation of intellectual capital — can have a profound effect on organizations. By taking volunteership to the next level and matching the skills and expertise of volunteers with organizations’ needs, nonprofits can make operational and strategic improvements or possibly even pivot to change the way they serve the community. While this isn’t the most common form of volunteerism, it has the potential to add tremendous and long-lasting value.