Skills and Dreams

People have lived a subsistence lifestyle for thousands of years. Over time, markets, defensive positions and safe anchorages became market towns, garrison towns and ports. Towns became cities. Some cities became super-sized. For example,  New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai, Beijing, Istanbul, Karachi, Mumbai, Moscow and Sao Paulo.

The people moving from rural to urban areas with the dream of a higher standard of living for themselves and their families. However, what no one could foresee, was how demand for highly-skilled jobs would outpace the urbanites’ ability to sufficiently upskill. That ‘upskill gap’ has probably always been there. But is it now accelerating?

The immigrant forefathers, sometimes made massive sacrifices; risking life and limb to cross foreign borders, enduring bandits & storms. They often battled immigrant prejudice when they did arrive in the cities. However, they held high hopes for their future generations, thinking, if I can just make it in the big city, my kids will be ok.

Now it seems, few people remember those exodus sacrifices. Family communication in the fast-paced metropolitan areas can be sporadic.  The wider family often live quite different lifestyles and hold different values, even within the same city. Transport hassles make meeting up harder than it should be. Meanwhile, future generations born into urban sprawl, don’t always realise the consequences of the widening skills gap. Or just how vital obtaining advanced skill-sets are, to afford to continue living in today’s big cities.

Rationally, the city dwellers that don’t obtain advanced skill-sets, should plan to return to the countryside towns, villages and settlements, where after all, the air is cleaner, the people more friendly and the pressure on shared resources considerably reduced.

Some people are reluctant to move out of the city, if it means putting distance between themselves and close family. What’s also keeping some from moving out, is the supply of  ‘minimum wage’ service jobs that persist in the cities. However, that future supply may diminish, as some service jobs become fully automated, while other roles move with the employer as it relocates out of the city (to escape high rents), or move offshore entirely.

In the UK, local councils already re-locate some social housing tenants out of the city. They do this out of financial necessity. However, one important thing missing in this transfer is central government explaining the wider realities to people. Perhaps that time has come?

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