《经济学人》:大学毕业生的担忧
日期:2011-09-05 11:00

(单词翻译:单击)

Schumpeter
熊彼特

Angst for the educated
大学毕业生的担忧

A university degree no longer confers financial security
大学学历已经不再保证金融安全

Sep 3rd 2011 | from the print edition

MILLIONS of school-leavers in the rich world are about to bid a tearful goodbye to their parents and start a new life at university. Some are inspired by a pure love of learning. But most also believe that spending three or four years at university—and accumulating huge debts in the process—will boost their chances of landing a well-paid and secure job.

发达国家数百万的高中毕业生将要含泪告别他们的父母,开始新的大学生活。有些人被纯粹热爱学习鼓舞着。但是大部分人同样相信在大学待三、四年,虽然在这个过程中累积了大量的债务,但他们获得高薪稳定工作的几率将会大大增加。

Their elders have always told them that education is the best way to equip themselves to thrive in a globalised world. Blue-collar workers will see their jobs offshored and automated, the familiar argument goes. School dropouts will have to cope with a life of cash-strapped insecurity. But the graduate elite will have the world at its feet. There is some evidence to support this view. A recent study from Georgetown University’s Centre on Education and the Workforce argues that “obtaining a post-secondary credential is almost always worth it.” Educational qualifications are tightly correlated with earnings: an American with a professional degree can expect to pocket $3.6m over a lifetime; one with merely a high-school diploma can expect only $1.3m. The gap between more- and less-educated earners may be widening. A study in 2002 found that someone with a bachelor’s degree could expect to earn 75% more over a lifetime than someone with only a high-school diploma. Today the premium is even higher.

他们的长辈们经常告诫他们,教育是武装自己投身于全球化世界的最好的方式。蓝领工人看着他们的工作岗位迁往海外且被自动化代替,相似的言论此起彼伏。中途辍学的学生将要面对资金短缺的无保障生活,但是优秀毕业生则事业有成。有证据来证明该观点,乔治城大学教育和劳动力中心最近的一项调查认为,“获取高中以上的证书总是值得的。”教育上的资格证书与收入紧密相关:一位拥有专业学位的美国人终其一生可以赚取360万美元,而仅仅只有高中文凭的人其一生可以赚130万美元。教育程度高与教育程度低之间的差距可能已经扩大。2002年的一项调查发现,本科学历的人一生将比高中学历的人多赚75%,现在,这个数据甚至更高。

But is the past a reliable guide to the future? Or are we at the beginning of a new phase in the relationship between jobs and education? There are good reasons for thinking that old patterns are about to change—and that the current recession-driven downturn in the demand for Western graduates will morph into something structural. The gale of creative destruction that has shaken so many blue-collar workers over the past few decades is beginning to shake the cognitive elite as well.

但是,过去是未来的可靠向导么?或者我们处于工作和教育之间关系重新解读的起点么?旧模式将要改变的想法是有原因的——目前因经济衰退而导致对西方毕业生的需求减少,这将会转变成结构性的。在过去几十年里曾经抢走很多蓝领工人饭碗的一系列的创新,现在也开始对认知的精英构成威胁了。

The supply of university graduates is increasing rapidly. The Chronicle of Higher Education calculates that between 1990 and 2007 the number of students going to university increased by 22% in North America, 74% in Europe, 144% in Latin America and 203% in Asia. In 2007 150m people attended university around the world, including 70m in Asia. Emerging economies—especially China—are pouring resources into building universities that can compete with the elite of America and Europe. They are also producing professional-services firms such as Tata Consulting Services and Infosys that take fresh graduates and turn them into world-class computer programmers and consultants. The best and the brightest of the rich world must increasingly compete with the best and the brightest from poorer countries who are willing to work harder for less money.

大学毕业生正急剧增长。《高等教育编年史》预测,在1990年到2007年之间,进入大学的学生人数在北美增长了22%,欧洲增长了74%,拉美增长了144%,以及亚洲增长了203%。2007年,全世界有1.5亿人进入大学,其中包括亚洲的七千万人。新兴经济体,尤其是中国,将资源投入到大学建设,以至于能于欧美精英相竞争。这些国家还成立专业服务公司,诸如塔塔咨询(Tata Consulting Services)和印孚瑟斯(Infosys),将刚毕业的大学生打造成世界级电脑程序员和顾问。发达国家最优秀最聪明的毕业生必须逐渐与不发达国家的最优秀最聪明的毕业生相竞争,因为不发达国家的毕业生愿意从事更加辛苦的工作且接受较少的工资。

At the same time, the demand for educated labour is being reconfigured by technology, in much the same way that the demand for agricultural labour was reconfigured in the 19th century and that for factory labour in the 20th. Computers can not only perform repetitive mental tasks much faster than human beings. They can also empower amateurs to do what professionals once did: why hire a flesh-and-blood accountant to complete your tax return when Turbotax (a software package) will do the job at a fraction of the cost? And the variety of jobs that computers can do is multiplying as programmers teach them to deal with tone and linguistic ambiguity.

同时,对受教育的劳动力的需求因技术而被重新配置,这与19世纪农业劳动力需求被重新配置以及20世纪工厂劳动力的需求被重新配置大同小异。电脑不仅在重复记忆工作上比人类更加快,而且电脑能使业余者从事原本只有专家才能做的事情:如果Turbotax(软件包)能以很低的成本完成纳税申报单的话,为什么还要雇用一个会计来完成这项工作呢?当程序员能够使电脑学会解决语调和语言歧义的问题后,电脑能做的工作种类将倍增。

Several economists, including Paul Krugman, have begun to argue that post-industrial societies will be characterised not by a relentless rise in demand for the educated but by a great “hollowing out”, as mid-level jobs are destroyed by smart machines and high-level job growth slows. David Autor, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), points out that the main effect of automation in the computer era is not that it destroys blue-collar jobs but that it destroys any job that can be reduced to a routine. Alan Blinder, of Princeton University, argues that the jobs graduates have traditionally performed are if anything more “offshorable” than low-wage ones. A plumber or lorry-driver’s job cannot be outsourced to India. A computer programmer’s can.

包括保罗•克鲁格曼(Paul Krugman)在内的一些经济学家认为,后工业化社会特征将不是对知识分子的需求无止尽增长,而是当中等水平的工作由智能机器完成以及高水平工作增长缓慢时,出现的巨大“产业空洞化”。麻省理工大学(MIT)的戴维•奥托尔(David Auto)指出,电脑时代自动化的主要影响不是因为夺走了蓝领工人的岗位,而是在于摧毁了能被简化成流水线所有工作岗位。普林斯顿大学的艾伦•布林德(Alan Blinder)认为毕业生从事的传统工作,要比低工资工作更加容易“外包”。一个水管工或者卡车司机的工作将不会外包给印度人,但是计算机程序员的工作岗位可以外包出去。

A university education is still a prerequisite for entering some of the great guilds, such as medicine, law and academia, that provide secure and well-paying jobs. Over the 20th century these guilds did a wonderful job of raising barriers to entry—sometimes for good reasons (nobody wants to be operated on by a barber) and sometimes for self-interested ones. But these guilds are beginning to buckle. Newspapers are fighting a losing battle with the blogosphere. Universities are replacing tenure-track professors with non-tenured staff. Law firms are contracting out routine work such as “discovery” (digging up documents relevant to a lawsuit) to computerised-search specialists such as Blackstone Discovery. Even doctors are threatened, as patients find advice online and treatment in Walmart’s new health centres.

大学教育仍然是进入一些盛大的公会的先决条件。诸如医药、法律和学术界,能够提供稳定且高薪水的工作。20世纪以来,这些公会在提高进入门槛上表现出色,有时候是出于好的原因(没有人想要理发师来为他们做手术),有时候为了自己的利益,但是这些公会开始联合。报纸正与博客打一场失败的仗。大学也将终身职位的教授转变为非终身职员。律师事务所将诸如“发现”(找出与案子相关的文件)的常规工作外包给诸如Blackstone Discovery这样的计算机搜索专家。甚至连医生也受到了威胁,病人们可以在网上找到建议和沃尔玛新康体中心的治疗方法。

Dreaming spires, meet pin factory
面对分割分配,梦想登顶

Thomas Malone of MIT argues that these changes—automation, globalisation and deregulation—may be part of a bigger change: the application of the division of labour to brain-work. Just as Adam Smith’s factory managers broke the production of pins into 18 components, so companies are increasingly breaking the production of brain-work into ever tinier slices. TopCoder chops up IT projects into bite-sized chunks and then serves them up to a worldwide workforce of freelance coders.

麻省理工大学的托马斯•马隆(Thomas Malone)认为自动化、全球化和解除管制等变化可能是更大变化的一个部分:这是劳动力分配到脑力劳动的应用。就像亚当•斯密(Adam Smith)的工厂管理者产品分为18个部分,因此公司逐渐地将脑力劳动的内容化为非常小的一部分。TopCoder公司将IT项目切割成很小的一块,而且提供全世界自由编码员的劳动力。

These changes will undoubtedly improve the productivity of brain-workers. They will allow consumers to sidestep the professional guilds that have extracted high rents for their services. And they will empower many brain-workers to focus on what they are best at and contract out more tedious tasks to others. But the reconfiguration of brain-work will also make life far less cosy and predictable for the next generation of graduates

这些变化将毫无疑问地改善脑力劳动者的效率,这使得消费者回避专业的公会为他们的服务收取高昂的费用。而且这将允许更多的脑力工作中集中精力在他们最擅长的领域,而将更加乏味的工作外包给其他人。但是脑力工作的重新配置同样也使生活远不及那么舒服,以及对下一届毕业生是可预言的。

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重点单词
  • thrivevi. 兴旺,繁荣,茁壮成长
  • varietyn. 多样,种类,杂耍
  • supplyn. 补给,供给,供应,贮备 vt. 补给,供给,提供,
  • relevantadj. 相关的,切题的,中肯的
  • credentialn. 国书,凭据,印信 vt. 提供证明书 adj. 信
  • tonen. 音调,语气,品质,调子,色调 vt. 使更健壮,装
  • merelyadv. 仅仅,只不过
  • cognitiveadj. 认知的,认识的,有认识力的
  • lawsuitn. 诉讼,控诉
  • ambiguityn. 含糊不清,模棱两可