73. The following appeared as part of an editorial in a campus newspaper.
With an increasing demand for highly skilled workers, this nation will soon face a serious labor shortage. New positions in technical and professional occupations are increasing rapidly while at the same time the total labor force is growing slowly. Moreover, the government is proposing to cut funds for aid to education in the near future.
Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underline the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate in conclusion.
In this argument the author predicts a nationwide labor shortage in the near future. The basis for this prediction is an increasing demand for highly skilled workers, especially in technical and professional fields, coupled with a slow-growing labor force and a government proposal to cut funds for aid to education.
At first glance, the author's argument appears to be somewhat convincing. But further reflection reveals that it is based on some dubious assumptions.
In the first place, the author assumes that the present labor force is immobile and that the demand for highly skilled workers will have to be met by workers who are entering the labor market for the first time. Recent American history, however, shows that this assumption is entirely unfounded. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution most Americans were farm workers, but by the end of that revolution most had become factory workers. Thus, even though the labor pool remained relatively constant during this period, the number of farm workers decreased and the number of factory workers increased. This example clearly demonstrates the mobility of the labor force.
In the second place, the author assumes that the government's proposal to cut funds for aid to education will have a significant negative impact on the ability to train workers in technical and professional fields. The fact is, however, that the percentage of students who rely on government aid for their education is relatively small, so the effect of such cuts would be negligible.
In conclusion, this argument is unconvincing. To strengthen the argument the author will have to show that the present work force was relatively static and that the proposed cuts in educational aid will have a deleterious effect on the numbers of highly skilled workers available to enter the work force in the future.