Sunday, November 07, 2004


New boss at JDS Uniphase

Check out today's Press Democrat business story about JDS Uniphase's new local boss (11/7, "Five years after buying OCLI, tech firms [sic] realizes true value of its SR unit").

Until quite recently, Hewlett-Packard and OCLI were SR's major manufacturers. The two established SR firms were the actual physical center of the "Telecom Valley" that extended from the Sonoma County Airport to Petaluma during its brief economic boom. They were also the heart of the SR Chamber's Sonoma County Manufacturing Group, that then became the Sonoma County Technology and Manufacturing Group.

Hewlett-Packard spun off Agilent Technologies about the same time JDSU bought OCLI. H-P was a winner that spun off a weak division, and JDS was an overgrown loser that bought a small winner--now "the backbone of JDS, making up more than half of sales".

Agilent and JDSU have the same local game plan--develop products here, make them in the Third World. New boss George "Hoss" Christensen says, "You make the product here and get it right, and get the early prototypes. And once you've got the Mrs. Fields recipe, you send that offshore."

Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Carl Wong has a related Close To Home item in today's PD. He asks, "what jobs are we preparing our students to fill? Are we educating students for jobs that aren't going to be available to them because we've shifted to a global work force?"

Wong comments, "It's estimated that 60 percent of the new jobs added between 2001 and 2003 were lower-paying service jobs that are below the county's average wage of $40,000 per year. That shift in the employment picture, like the global shift, also raises questions about the direction of work-force development and education."

The irony is, the brief local Telecom Valley boom inspired local business to demand the schools stress education for jobs at the new hi-tech corporations. Now Wong's letter suggests the schools should be stressing training for "lower paying service jobs".

It makes more sense for the schools to offer a traditional liberal arts and sciences education, preparing the students to make their own decisions as conditions change. The business community can train its own employees--many of them new immigrants--for the new low-paid service jobs in the wine and hospitality industries.

And by the way, what does the Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools do? Maybe Wong's elected position should be moved to the County's "Economic Development" department.

Ridiculous quest there. What happened after?
Good luck!

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