In early 2018, after the release of a positive national jobs reports, some experts said the glowing numbers couldn’t be trusted, and actually indicated a “wage-less recovery.” No wonder. For the last few decades, both the private and public sectors have gradually weakened the support structures that have nurtured the American workforce for generations. Two experts connect the dots on this new dilemma, and look for solutions.
Almost hidden on a funky old pier along San Francisco’s waterfront, Autodesk, a world leader in digital tools for makers, is running a prototype shop that seems more like a high-tech playground for grown-ups. In between contracts to make, say, a steel ship propeller with a massive 3-D printer, the company takes in sculptors, engineers, and architects who are pushing the boundaries of their own work. The effect of all this energy is a level of innovation that is expanding—and perhaps redefining—the meaning of craftsmanship.
As the job landscape changes, opportunities open for some and close for others. Since 2010, Kelly Carlisle has been trying to build options for youngsters in East Oakland–using an urban farm to inspire them to engage with the world as curious citizens. “Part of my work,” she says, “is to make sure we expand their worldview.”