Pharmacist group plots strategies for dealing with future workforce challenges

Here’s an association — the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists — that’s making a serious effort to take a long-term view of challenges its profession faces in the future. Bravo! The association has come up with a long-range “vision” document covering the following critical issues:

  • Credentialing
  • Residency training
  • Teamwork within the pharmacy function and the entire patient care process
  • Role and credentials of pharmacy technicians
  • Experiential learning requirements
  • Expanded and specialized areas of pharmacy practice
  • Role of automation and technology

And a second task force, on “pharmacy’s changing demographics,” made long-term recommendations for coping with workforce trends such as a shortage of pharmacists and demands for better work-life balance, as well as “generational differences, a changing gender mix, and ethnic and racial diversity.” (Notably, “the task force was composed of a diverse group that included health-system pharmacists, a nurse, a physician as well as a futurist and a sociologist.”)

Lunar jobs will be tough on mental health

In the extreme isolation of lunar settlements (or even space stations), anxiety and depression are likely to spread from worker to worker in a form of social contagion, according to Chester Spell, an associate professor of management at Rutgers University. Sound far-fetched? Spell says it already happens in quasi-isolated workplaces such as remote Australian mining towns and Antarctic stations.

Can we manage a world of superslums?

A United Nations report on urban population trends makes for powerful, moving, often-depressing, sometimes-hopeful reading. The chief conclusion:

In 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of world population, 3.3 billion people, will be living in urban areas. This number is expected to swell to almost 5 billion by 2030. In Africa and Asia, the urban population will double between 2000 and 2030. Many of these new urbanites will be poor. Their future, the future of cities in developing countries, the future of humanity itself, all depend very much on decisions made now.

Continue reading “Can we manage a world of superslums?”

Open source: Deconstructing… Arianespace

There’s a striking amount of competitive intelligence to be found in a recent Wall Street Journal article about closely held Arianespace. ( “French Firm Vaults Ahead In Civilian Rocket Market,” 25 June 2007 )

“After decades of struggles, Arianespace managed to outmaneuver the incumbents with innovative engineering, cutthroat pricing and moves that parlayed the financial clout of the European Union to beat out U.S. rivals in launching private satellites.”

Here are some of the tidbits we learn from this article:

Market share: Doubled to “well over 50%.”

Technology: The Ariane 5 uses new dual-launch technology to simultaneously propel two spacecraft into orbit — an idea U.S. competitors scoffed at initially.

New market: Manned space flight. NASA’s administrator is considering Arianespace as “Plan B” if the agency stumbles in developing its own replacement for the aging space shuttles.

Secret sauce: Operates more like an airline, and outsources ancillary work.

Costs: Cut its supplier base by nearly 15% and forced those that remained to cut prices.

Motto: Deliver “any weight, to any orbit, at any time.”

Plans: Details about future plans for the Spaceport at the equator.

Policies needed to soften the blows of globalization

The natives, literally, are restless. Great in theory, globalization isn’t turning out to be all it’s cracked up to be, for those who are losing their jobs. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently acknowledged growing unease about globalization in its annual labor report and worried about a popular backlash, according to press reports.

Now, the businesses that benefit most from free trade are acknowledging the problem, too. A paper commissioned by the Financial Services Forum sets out several policy options “aimed at cushioning the blow from job losses and other dislocations caused by global trade.” The thinking is that, by helping those on the losing end of globalization, businesses can diffuse growing protectionist sentiment, according to The Wall Street Journal (26 June 2007).

The Financial Services Forum report concludes that:

The aggregate gains from global engagement, large though they are, are not evenly shared and do not directly benefit every worker, firm, and community.

  • From the mid-to-late 1970s to the mid-to-late 1990s, the real and relative earnings of less-skilled Americans was poor relative to both economy-wide average productivity gains and also the earnings of their more-skilled counterparts.
  • Since around 2000, the large majority of American workers has seen poor income growth.
  • Global engagement fosters high productivity in American industries, but typically with substantial churn at the level of individual firms, with pervasive shut-down of inefficient plants and even entire companies.
  • Because economic activity tends to be concentrated across American communities, this uneven distribution of globalization’s pressures across workers and firms also means uneven pressures across communities as well.

The bottom line is that today, many American workers feel anxious — about change and about their paychecks. Their concerns are real, widespread, and legitimate.

The typical policy response — retraining — isn’t enough because the relief isn’t fast enough. The report’s new policy ideas include:

  • insuring communities against “sudden economic dislocation” caused by a factory closing
  • merging all worker-assistance programs (e.g., unemployment insurance and trade-adjustment assistance) into one
  • eliminating the payroll tax on incomes less than $32,140

A new survey conducted by the Financial Services Forum and RT Strategies shows that public attitudes towards globalization have dimmed slightly since last year. The most recent poll shows that 49% have a favorable view of globalization, compared with 54% in May of 2006.

However, the survey also found that 67% would have a more favorable view of globalization if policymakers “put in place programs specifically designed to better equip American workers, communities, and firms to participate in, and benefit from, the 21st century global economy, and to help those negatively affected by globalization find new jobs.”