PowerUp Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Jobs

Here we go again …. another program destined to make Pittsburgh great.

PowerUp Pittsburgh (click here to learn more from the Post-Gazette article), will supposedly spider out the successes of the technology and health industries in Oakland.  Some of that has already happened, but PowerUp is supposed to help fill in dying area (where businesses have moved out, etc).  We encourage you to really read the article as it explains the project much better than SWB possibly could.

We are not going to bash the program at all, but in fact we are going to thank Mayor Luke and all involved to get this ball rolling.

Why are we thanking them?  Well, it’s because they aren’t starting with a completely written-in-stone plan.

Why is this good? Because Pittsburgh residents and workers (or more likely ex-workers) still have the time to try and influence it.

So why should ‘Burghers think about trying to influence the program and why did we initially say “Here We Go Again” like we were going to blast the program? One simple reason … we’ve done this before and by the definition of those programs they’ve been wildly successful.

For example, programs to bring industries into Pittsburgh have brought companies like Google, Seagate (now gone, but they came), and other prestigious names into the area … but there is one problem with the available jobs from those companies – they require a Masters or Phd.  So basically the people in the that have lost jobs in Pittsburgh cannot re-acquire employment with the education and skills that they already have because they don’t have that new shiny piece of paper.  Keep in mind many of these people are like me and have 25 years of tech experience with up to date technologies and have massive management and professional skills gained over 25 years of employment.  What people like me don’t have is another $100k to land an entry level position for about $40k.  If you want a decent job today, you are looking at $120k to possibly $250k by the graduation time.  Do the math on that one.  If you gain a decent job (even $50k/yr starting) once you subtract your financial aid payments, you are lucky to make rent payments in a low income housing project (but you aren’t allowed to live there because you now have a good job making $50k/yr).  The chances you have of making a life event remotely close to the quality of the one your parents had is slim and next to nil. Even with the great education … that is until your schooling is paid off, around the age of 65.  So what’s left if you can’t affored the re-ed? … the $8 to $12/hr jobs that still leave you homeless, but with enough money to at least buy clothes so you don’t get arrested for lewdness when you are dumpster-diving at your local McD’s because you can’t even afford to eat there.  So let’s get to your children’s education … it ain’t gonna happen.  Even if you wanted them to go to college you’ve already blown their higher education savings for yourself so you can get back to work.  Nothing left …. sorry kid.

So why do we rant about the above …. isn’t any jobs coming in good jobs?  Yes, and don’t stop supporting the programs that get in place and attract jobs, everything helps.  What people do need to do though is remind those doing the programs that they need to remember those skills already in the area (not the skills they want to attract to the area) so that the people already losing homes, families, and hope can get back to work and recover.  It’s great when new things appear (I lived in SouthSide Words when it was being built, and then the Cork Factory) and that was a wonderful experience.  but now, like many others in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas we watch program after program that helps people come into the city, gain skills, and take them back out … but programs continually totally forget those skills already in place.

I no longer live in the new places because we all forgot to fight to keep our jobs here, and allowed greed to move them out. There is this new re-outsourcing thing.  India, Russia, and others are so overloaded with tech jobs that they no longer have enough skilled persons to do them that they are bringing the jobs back to the US … at their pay levels.  So that job you were paid $30/hr for is not at a rate of about $11 to $13 per hour.  Most of those jobs were illegal to obtain by foreigners that moved to the US, unless there were no US citizens to do them.  So we forgot about our own, and never did any of these new programs address that.

The one key thing that all these wonderful programs forget is that this city at one time was made into and international wonder simply because everyone here supported each other and didn’t forget where we came from.

We’re forgetting … and we are allowing those running programs to forget also.

Don’t let them forget why Pittsburgh was what it was and could be greater if we once again rely on that key thing … building each other up.

Why was Steve Jobs so revered?  He never forgot, and he never stopped pushing those below him to be as passionate as he was.  We need to relearn that.


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