US thinks of jobs of the future 

On his Asian trip in March, President George W. Bush urged Americans to not fear the rise toward prosperity of emerging economies like India. Education, Mr. Bush said, was the best response to globalization, climbing further up the ladder of skills to “fill the jobs of the 21st century.”

But a ladder to where? That is, where are educated young Americans likely to find good jobs that will not be shipped off to India or China? The answer, according to a growing number of universities, corporations and government agencies, is in what is being called services science. The hybrid fields seeks to use technology, management, mathematics and engineering expertise to improve the performance of a service businesses like  transportation, retailing and health care – as well as service function like marketing, design or customer service that are also crucial in manufacturing industries.

A couple of dozen universities-including the University of California at Berkeley, Arizona State, Stanford, North Carolina State, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and d Georgia Tech – are experimenting with courses or research programmes in the filed.

The push for services science is partly a game of catch-up, a belated recognition that services now account for 70 per cent of the US economy, so education, research and policy should reflect the shift. “Services is a drastically understudied field,” said Matthew Realff, director of a few programme at the National Science Foundation to finance university research in the field.

“We need a revolution in services.”

Kurt Koester, a graduate student in engineering at Berkeley, is eager to take part. Yet engineering alone, he observes, can often be outsourced  to lower-cost economies overseas, Mr. Koe-ster’s special interest is in bio medical engineering. And he is also taking the services science course at the Haas School of Business. He figures it should help him better manage teams of technologists and blend products and services.

“I love engineering, but I want a much broader and more diverse background,” he said.  His personal strategy, according to economists, is the best way to prepare for an increasingly global labour market. “This is how you address the global challenge,” said Jerry Sheehan, a senior economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “You have to move up to do more complex, higher value work.”

Representatives from technology companies including IBM, Accenture and EDS a few universities and government agencies met in December to discuss how to raise interest in services science.

A further step is a conference on education in services science being held on Tuesday at National Academy of Sciences.

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