Tuesday, June 21, 2011

PIMCO's Bill Gross Warns on U.S. Skills Shortage

In yesterday's "Siemens chief warns on US skills shortage" (SI), my comment was:
When the chief executive of the U.S. division of one of the premier manufacturing companies in the world says something like this, it might be time to throttle back on the sociology/psychology/anthropology majors....
That interview was by the Financial Times. Here are their electron stained confrères at:

Bill Gross Wants To Bring Back Shop Class 

“Philosophy, sociology and liberal arts agendas will no longer suffice.”
​A mind is a precious thing to waste, so why are millions of America’s students wasting theirs by going to college? All of us who have been there know an undergraduate education is primarily a four year vacation interrupted by periodic bouts of cramming or Google plagiarizing, but at least it used to serve a purpose. It weeded out underachievers and proved at a minimum that you could pass an SAT test. For those who made it to the good schools, it proved that your parents had enough money to either bribe administrators or hire SAT tutors to increase your score by 500 points. And a degree represented that the graduate could “party hearty” for long stretches of time and establish social networking skills that would prove invaluable later on at office cocktail parties or interactively via Facebook. College was great as long as the jobs were there....MORE
Bill Gross Is Right About This
This blog has admittedly poked a lot of fun at Bill Gross’s far too early/wrong call on what will happen to interest rates at the end of QE2. But that’s small potatoes; on one very big issue he gets it right today.
In an unusual mid-month “investment outlook,” the Pimco chieftain, who has railed early and often about US debt, says deficit reduction in and of itself is not going to grow jobs, as many of our political leaders seem to believe.

Our biggest problem, Mr. Gross counters, is a populace that is woefully un-, under- and mis-educated, and we would do well to cool our deficit reduction fever long enough to use the power of the government to make our people useful to the global economy again....MORE
and CNBC doing the "Jane You Ignorant Slut" bit:

Bill Gross Gets the College Crisis Wrong
Bill Gross joined the chorus of college skeptics today.
"A mind is a precious thing to waste, so why are millions of America’s students wasting theirs by going to college?" he writes in his latest investment letter. 

I’d like to welcome Gross to the club. I’ve been advocating this position for several years, as has the writer and entrepreneur James Altucher

Parts of Gross’s analysis of the problem of college are very good. He correctly understands that the signaling value of getting into a good college has been greatly degraded. He also understands that the dearth of new jobs in the economy limits the value of social networks colleges create. 

But the primary problem is not “outdated curricula focused on liberal arts instead of a more practical global agenda focusing on math and science.” 

This is an old complaint against liberal arts but it makes less sense today than it ever did. Only 9.7 percent of college students major in humanities and the liberal arts, according to a study of the economic value of college majors by Georgetown University. By contrast, 41.1 percent of college students major in engineering, computers, math, physical sciences and business....MORE 
I'll leave it to Mssrs. Carney and Gongloff to duke it out while I watch this SNL primer on forensics: