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Jobs will be harder to find for those not prepared

Lots of young people won't be able to function in the information society we are becoming. "Economists say the swift pace of high tech advances will only drive a further wedge between... youngsters (who are computer literate and those who are not)... Nearly every American business from Wall Street to McDonald's requires some computer knowledge. Taco Bell is modeling its cash registers after Nintendo controls..."

"Like it or not, America is a land of inequities. And technology, despite its potential to level the social landscape, is not yet blind to race, wealth and age. The richer the family, the more likely it is to own and use a computer, according to 1993 census data."

"In public schools, the computer gap is closing. More than half the students have some kind of computer, even if its obsolete. But schools with the biggest concentration of poor children have the least equipment... Prosperous Montgomery County, Md., has an $81 million plan to put every classroom online. Next door, the District of Columbia public schools have the same ambitious plan but less than $1 million in the budget to accomplish it." (Newsweek, February 27, 1995, pages 50-53)

A new book by William Julius Wilson called When Work Disappears offers further insight into the dilemna of the changing work world. "'For the first time in the 20th century,' Mr. Wilson writes, 'most adults in many inner-city ghetto neighborhoods are not working in a typical week.' Difficult as life was for many urban blacks in the 1940's and 50's, they at least enjoyed reasonable hopes of landing steady, if low-paying, work. Now, mainly because of global economic reorganization and the disappearance of unskilled factory jobs, he asserts, those hopes have nearly vanished. The collapse of the low-wage economy has, in turn, destroyed neighborhood businesses and encouraged the departure of upwardly mobile young adults. In a little more than a generation, formerly viable if relatively lowly black communities have become chaotic, crime-infested, welfare-dependent slums... Without the spiritual and financial anchor of respectable employment, there is little chance that the acute social disorganization of the black inner cities will improve.... The technological advances and global economic shifts of the past 30 years have had devastating effects at the bottom of American society." (reviewed by Sean Wilentz in the New York Times Book Review, p.7).

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