"It's the economy, stupid," is a refrain the United States will never live down, and not without reason. The relentless march of technological development and globalization continues to put pressure on all national economies, providing opportunity for some and marginalization for others. Around the world, nations will need to overcome twin economic shocks: a wave of baby boomers will retire and leave the workforce, while too few young, well-educated people will be available to fill a rising tide of high-skill, technology-related jobs. Ed Gordon marshals vast amounts of data to illustrate how these trends are quickly converging, creating a labor vacuum-with potentially disastrous consequences for economic competitiveness and individual opportunity. In the United States, for example, major studies agree that the majority of the jobs now being created require skills possessed by only 20 percent of the current workforce; meanwhile, a large pool of under-trained workers are seeing their jobs exported to developing countries, automated, or outsourced, while millions of high-paying jobs, in such fields as engineering, computing, and health care are going unfilled.
In The 2010 Meltdown, Gordon sounds a wake-up call to business leaders, policymakers, educators, and concerned citizens, employees, and parents-anyone with a stake in our economic future. Beyond the demographic issues, he notes that such cultural factors as Wall Street's obsession with short-term results (which favors cost-cutting over long-term training) and neglect of math and science skills at school are contributing to a fundamental mismatch between labor supply and demand. But the news is not all grim. Gordon highlights innovative initiatives in training, education, and community development in the United States and around the world that can serve as models for positive action, and he outlines a plan for reversing the destructive trends before we reach a crucial crossroad by the year 2010. Ultimately, The 2010 Meltdown is an optimis