International -- Readers Report
Pounding Europe's Pavements Is No Picnic (int'l edition)
Having left employment in the U.S. in October, 1998, to live in Gloucestershire, I find "The missing worker" (European Business, Dec. 27) very informative. I had thought that, with my education and employment background, I could find a good job here easily. There is one major problem in Britain: age discrimination, especially for those over 50 (I turned 53 this past October). Unlike the U.S., Britain has not outlawed age discrimination.
Yes, info-tech workers are needed, and that is my field, but many companies are blind: They want to employ young people--those just out of school, who command lower wages. There seems to be no consideration for experience and knowledge gained over many years of work. One is told by employment agencies that one's age makes it hard to be placed; ads actually state age groups wanted.
John B. Rohrbeck
In Germany, problems often stem not from workers' lack of skills or their unwillingness to change, but are caused by well-established keepers of secure posts. These professionals lack any incentive for change. They like the status quo and abhor risks or experiments. For them, educated, experienced personalities signify unwanted competition.
The flexible Mr. Freund in your article is not the exception. Well-educated job seekers in their 40s with successful high-level international management experience, proficiency in several languages, the flexibility to work around the globe, and certified info-tech knowledge send out hundreds of applications, only to receive negative responses.
As long as many people in Germany fail to find work because they are "overqualified" (or lack a positive attitude--whatever that means), one should not complain about an uneducated and inflexible workforce.
Waldshut-Tiengen, GermanyReturn to top
The Perils of Potent Pesticides (int'l edition)
Introducing of resistant genes into plant genomes does in no way "avoid more dangerous chemicals." Instead, it spurs an ubiquitous use of pesticides in weed elimination, killing all forms of plants and animals around the crop treated ("Are bio-foods safe?" American News, Dec. 27). Previous pesticides had to be specific and mild in effect for fear of side effects on the crop itself, a requirement now rendered obsolete. And as resistance grows in weeds and animals, new and more potent generations of pesticides will be necessary--to the joy of pesticide producers.
As for drenching the country and the whole world with ever-more-potent wide-spectrum plant and animal poisons: who will profit from this? Nature? The consumer? Crop producers in poor countries that cannot afford to grow resistant crops? Or pesticide producers? The impact of eliminating diversity in nature will be far greater than the case of Monarch caterpillars might suggest.
Neuss, GermanyReturn to top
There's More to Porsche Than Sports Cars (int'l edition)
You're peering through the wrong end of the historical telescope in "That van you're driving may be part Porsche" (International Business, Dec. 27). After directing engineering for Austro-Daimler, Daimler Benz, and Steyr, Ferdinand Porsche opened what may well have been the first dedicated auto-engineering consultancy in Stuttgart in December, 1930. Contract engineering, the company's first activity, included such projects as the Volkswagen, the Auto Union racing car, and a mobile assault cannon used in World War II.
After the war, Porsche's engineers and technicians were languishing in Austria with little to do but repair VWs. Ferdinand's son Ferry put them to work on the design of a sports car, the Type 356. The first such sporty Porsche coupes were built in Austria, and their production was moved to Stuttgart in 1950. Ferry Porsche was urged by his business manager to continue making sports cars because, he was told, this would moderate the tax burden he faced from the firm's swelling royalties from VW production--because making sports cars was a sure way to lose money!
In the meantime, Porsche continued to carry out consulting engineering for VW and even designed a car for Studebaker in 1952. Until recently, Porsche has also been a major design force in armored-vehicle production for the German army. Thus, engineering services have been a core competence of Porsche for almost 70 years.
Karl E. Ludvigsen
LondonReturn to top