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TOPIC: jobs


What Europe Could Learn From Joe Biden's "Productivism" Policy

Subsidies to green industries and the promotion of "quality" jobs: Joe Biden’s economic policy is driven by an American form of "productivism," which French business daily Les Echos says has allowed the country to regain the upper hand in both economics and politics.


PARIS — Joe Biden has three challenges: putting America on the right track for climate, not letting China impose its supremacy and rebuilding a middle class attracted to populism. To solve these three at once, he has implemented a statist, industrialist and protectionist policy representing a new post-liberal paradigm.

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Statist because the market isn’t "perfect", despite what fundamentalist liberals have been saying since the Ronald Reagan years. The financial crisis had already cast a doubt on this. In putting safety above free trade, the pandemic finished the job of undermining the idea.

The fight to preserve the climate has been allocated a $400 billion credit with a very "American" approach, meaning simple, intelligible and technological: there is no question of "European-style" standards or constraints, ecology will only sell if it is "cheaper". Hence the subsidies for green purchases and a revival of innovation research.

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Meet The "Patchers," Burkina Faso's Mobile Tailors Cutting Corners On-The-Go

Seven days a week, the "patchers" of Burkina Faso roam the streets of the country's capital, looking out for any clothes that might need mending.

OUAGADOUGOU — They are easy to spot as they crisscross the capital of Burkina Faso. With sewing machines on their shoulders and scissors in hand, they travel around in search of their daily tasks. Many in urgent need make use of their services to adjust an outfit, mend holes, replace a zipper, sew on buttons or repair a tear.

These are the mobile tailors or rafistoleurs ("patchers") of this West African nation of 22 million. They save people time, trouble and often money, and are a common sight on the streets of Ouagadougou.

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Work → In Progress: Redefining Our Work-Life Balance

Telework, telework, telework … The concept may seem like old hat at this point. And yet, there are also new elements to the phenomenon that keep cropping up — new words, shifting workplace relationships, evolving office spaces — as society continues to morph around this shifting reality.

Fascinating innovations around our new work-life balance are still blossoming, in other words — and negative repercussions are still taking us by surprise. This edition of Work → In Progress stays ahead of the game, pinpointing the problems and solutions that will be on our minds even in a fully-vaccinated future.

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China's Ticking Time Bomb Of Mass Unemployment

Containing the COVID-19 outbreak came at a huge cost in terms of earnings and employment. And no one is taking a harder hit than China's tens of millions of migrant workers.

BEIJING — Crouching on the pavement, Sun Lifing is beginning to worry. It's almost 7 a.m. on Gao Bai Boulevard, beyond Beijing's sixth northern ring road, and he still doesn't know how he's going to earn a daily income. "I come here every day at 5 a.m., but job offers are rare," he says, cap firmly on his head to protect himself from the already scorching sun.

His bundle, made of large, faded canvas, is overflowing with tools: trowel, trowel, hammer, level, plumb line, etc. He has a lot of work to do. "My whole life depends on it," says the 52-year-old man with a chiseled face.

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Claude Fouquet

'Blue Cards' And Quotas: Europe's Search For A United Immigration System

The EU introduced its 'Blue Card' system to facilitate the arrival of qualified, non-European professionals. But only one country — Germany — really takes advantage of it.

PARIS — Immigration quotas of the kind that the French government wants to implement have sparked plenty of debate over the years, but they are less common perhaps than people imagine, at least in their visible form.

Two months ago, speaking before the French National Assembly's Foreign Affairs Committee, Jean-Christophe Dumont, head of the OECD's International Migration Division, recalled that of the 36 members of the international organization, only nine used such a quota system. Among them are the United States, Canada, New Zealand and even Australia.

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Jean-Marc Vittori

Why 'Artificial Intelligence' Needs A Smarter Name

Part of our fear around AI comes from its misleading moniker. It's a momentous innovation, sure. But it isn't really intelligent at all.

PARIS — In the Harry Potter series, evoking even the name of the villain — Voldemort — spreads terror. In real life, Voldemort doesn't exist. But simple words can still be enough to provoke mental instability, or even a panicked fear. Such is the case today for the term Artificial Intelligence, AI for short.

The phrase covers a range of incredibly effective tools, but also evokes such strong emotions of excitement and fear that people forget what it is in the first place — and at the risk of causing errors, blockages and frenzies. It is therefore essential that we stop talking about AI, assuming it isn't too late.

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South Korea
Lisa Lane

How China Quietly Poaches Samsung Talent From South Korea

SEOUL — A recently retired senior manager from South Korean electronics giant Samsung is back to work — in China.

Referred to just by his last name, Kim, had been executive director responsible for electronic chip design (D-RAM) at the Seoul-based multinational. But just before he was set to begin his senior position at the Chinese enterprise, Kim received notice from a South Korean court that Samsung had filed a lawsuit against him for not abiding by a "non-compete" clause arrangement, Radio Free Asia reports.

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Shira Ovide

$1 Trillion!? Dissecting Apple's New Money Milestone

Tim Cook's company has broken a stock market record, but a closer look at Apple's operating numbers tells a more nuanced story.

NEW YORK — Apple Inc. was a profit geyser well before it reached the $1-trillion value mark on Thursday. Even Warren Buffett is impressed. "It is an unbelievable company," the legendary investor and Apple stockholder said in May as he marveled that Apple earns almost twice as much as the second-most profitable U.S. company.

Buffett is right. Apple reported $68 billion in profit before taxes and non-operating items in the last year. In distant second place is JPMorgan Chase & Co. with $39 billion in operating profit.

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Eduardo Levy Yeyati

The Future Of Work: How AI Will Hit The Developing World

Robotization, AI and other technological advances will change the nature of work in the coming decades. How will it play out in poorer parts of the world?


BUENOS AIRES To bring the debate on the future of work to the reality of the developing world, one should distinguish between three dimensions of the debate that are sometimes confused.

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Kondo Daisuke

Japan v. China: Who Has The Next 'Lucky' Generation?

TOKYO — Chinese boys and girls are often referred to as "Little emperor" or "Little princess." They grow up in surroundings with financial means where six adults are catering to their demands: they are the luckiest generation since the founding of modern China.

Yet few of them realize that there is an even luckier bunch of young people in a country not so far away: Japan. Why? For the simple reason that Japanese youngsters are a rare breed, that is there are so few of them, proportionally to the country's demography, that they can be compared to the number of pandas in China's Sichuan Province – a privileged species and "national treasure."

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Take Pride In Your 'Bullshit Job' — It's The Future Of Capitalism

Some see the invention of bogus-sounding professions as a sign that work has become less and less necessary. It may also just mean that capitalism is being transformed.

PARIS — Stuck at home and prescribed a diet for an early case of gout this year — a punishment familiar to those with a love for decadent meals — I found myself sober and with enough free time to do all types of useless things, like exploring my LinkedIn account.

If it seemed natural not to personally know most of my 3,500 contacts, I was surprised to find that I didn't know the title of many of their professions either. Some job sectors that are obviously popular, but that I had never heard of, included: "Networking Enhancement," "innovative strategies," "holacracy," "global innovation insight," "transition transformation," "change management," "global strategy," "creativity and innovation..." And so on.

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Julien Dupont-Calbo

Who Wins And Loses In The 'Robot Car' Revolution

With the arrival of tech-heavy, self-driving vehicles, makers of traditional cars will have to adapt. But so too will everyone from real estate agents to insurers and tax collectors.


PARIS — The wheels of the first car started spinning more than a century ago. At the time, horses and their droppings were polluting roads and causing many deadly accidents. It's true too that carriage drivers weren't always sober, especially at the end of the day, and the animals weren't, therefore, always under control. And so, when motor vehicles started to appear on the roads, opponents of horse-drawn vehicles stepped into the breach and pleaded for modern vehicles to be launched hastily, in the name of public health and safety.

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