Reich uses the term “symbolic analysts” to describe what he feels one of the three main job classifications of the future will be. The symbolic analysts will be someone who is a problem identifier, a problem solver, or an innovator who can visualize new uses of existing technologies.
This class of workers includes scientists, engineers, and other scientific or technical specialties as well as marketers, investors, some types of lawyers, developers, and a wide variety of consultants. The symbolic analysts will have a high level of education, both in the classroom and on the job experience.
Reich believes that this new, actually redefined, class of workers will be the best bet for job growth and success into the next century. Opportunities for job growth will remain rather high. This is a result of two factors, slowing growth in population and the future retirement of the baby boomer generation (Reich, 203).
It is not the number of jobs in the future that is the problem, it’s the quality of those jobs. On the whole, Reich identifies two trends in job quality. The number of mundane, manufacturing jobs will decrease as well as the number of in-person service jobs e.g. bank tellers, but growth in the number of symbolic analytical positions.
The loss of repetitive manufacturing is primarily a cost-saving plan of American corporations. Corporations seeking to lower their costs of labor move their large, low-skilled manufacturing to points all over the globe in an attempt to find the lowest wages.
Replacement of some in-person services is attributed to technological change. Examples of this cutting of numbers can be seen in the blossoming of automated teller machines, unmanned self-service gas stations, and home shopping capabilities.
The symbolic analyst, however, contains a commodity that is both valuable and irreplaceable. These are the human thinking and problem-solving abilities that are becoming ever more important in international business. Specialized groups of problem identifiers and solvers will sprout all over the globe, selling their services to a wide variety of customers.
This growth might not seem beneficial for America in the traditional sense, as analysts will work for foreign companies just as easily as American ones, but the intangible gains of knowledge and experience stay within our country. People cannot be shipped and marketed as easily as a new VCR.
The interesting point of Reich’s theory for the future is that it offers no easily visible solutions of raising the standard of living for those who reside in the United States. In fact, I believe his symbolic analyst will only enlarge the growing income inequality between the rich and poor.
Unless you are benefited by high education and superior thinking abilities, your potential to earn good money in the future is dark indeed. With fewer low-skill jobs around, those who are not prepared will be scrapping to find enough work to get by. Meanwhile, the symbolic analyst, with respect to their abilities, could be raking in the dough.
Reich suggests that the United States is in the best position to capture the growth of the symbolic analyst, allowing for the coming boom. The U.S. has the best university system on the globe. While most elementary education is still backward, there are also some schools that prepare young minds for their futures as analysts.
The U.S. also has an advantage over developing countries in that the analyst has been here already for some time. There are specific zones of learning and innovation already present in our country that will take years to develop elsewhere. This gives the United States a jump-start heading into the next century.