Can Government Stimulate Good Tech Jobs?

by Don Willmott

Scott Brown’s come-from-behind victory in last week’s
special Massachusetts Senate election brought with it a lot of "throw the
bums out" rhetoric that we’re sure to hear lots more of between now and
the midterm elections in November. Given the unimaginably huge amounts of money
the government has earmarked for stimulus programs and bailouts to create or
save jobs, it’s no surprise that some angry voters think government is just too
big (though I’ll bet the 2 million civilian federal employees think it’s just
the right size).

Washington DCSo the question becomes: Can a government, any government, efficiently
create or stimulate good forward-looking jobs, especially jobs in the
technology space, that will position the nation favorably for the future?
Anyone who reads Thomas
warnings about the technological rise of China and India
must wonder if there’s anything our government can do to compete against these
emerging economic superpowers.

Maybe we could learn a thing or two from tiny Singapore. Last
fall, the government there, specifically its National Research Foundation, came up with $35 million (U.S.) and recruited
seven international venture capital firms
to find and manage startup companies,
making the NRF a business partner and beneficiary of their ultimate successes. The
NRF will provide up to 85 percent co-investment in each startup, and the VC
manager will be required to invest at least the balance of 15 percent. If a
startup takes off, the VCs will be able to buy out the government’s share after
three years. The plan is part of Singapore’s
$250 million (U.S.)
Framework for Innovation and Enterprise Program
." I can just picture IT
pros from all around the world booking their tickets on Singapore Airlines.

What a great idea, and what a little bit of money that is compared
to, say, our $787 billion stimulus plan. Of course, it’s far easier to get a scheme
like this organized quickly in a country with a population of just 4.8 million
and a single ruling political party that operates basically unopposed. Still, I
wonder why our government can’t be a little more entrepreneurial when it comes
to tech job creation, especially in the alternative energy sector, where success
would ultimately improve our national security? (Thomas Friedman is ringing in
my ears.)

Almost every large state and many large cities now have a
wide array of associations, chambers of commerce, consortiums, public/private
partnerships, and booster clubs devoted to attracting technology jobs that can
replace rapidly disappearing manufacturing jobs. For just one example, check
out Detroit’s
relentlessly optimistic Automation
. We need more. Make sure you know what’s going on in your city.

Some states have even decided to wrap their tech initiatives
around a unifying theme. Most recently, Maryland
decided to position itself as a natural hub for cybersecurity.
"Maryland is poised to
lead the nation’s war on cybercrime. From the innovative work being
conducted at NIST, our universities and Maryland
companies both large and small, to our highly-educated IT workforce, we have a
duty to ensure the safety and security of every American citizen against this
growing threat," said Governor Martin O’Malley not long ago. I like this
branded approach. Does your state have a technology theme?

And by the way, even if you think the federal government is too
big, it’s always hiring and shouldn’t be ignored if you’re launching a big job
hunt. Check out Dice’s own to see some of
what’s out there.

One Response to “Can Government Stimulate Good Tech Jobs?”

  1. USA goverment should use Bill Gates plan to remove the limit on number of H1B visas, open borders to foreign workers and tax more USA corporations using local workers. In global economy wiping out USA consumers will destroy India and China IT industries faster then war..