It's a lot like Google, they will not hire you unless you have a 4 year degree in something... you could have an IQ of 198 and blazed through High School with straight A's but if you didn't put the effort into going to school like everyone else they will not put in the time to hire you.
That piece of paper has always been the reason subject A gets hired and subject B does not.
Anyways back to the subject.
Robotics does create jobs. If you do not believe me then come to Wisconsin and meet me. The company I work for decided to start a robotic welding department about 7 years ago. It was small but adding that first ABB robot cell added 2 jobs. One being the Programmer. Two being the "Operator". Being a robotic welding operator, you perform simple duties such as pushing buttons, deburring and repairing of parts. A non-degree job. Yes it would make sense to put an experienced welder on it to make the best repairs, but we didn't. We still have many parts being welded manually, but today we have 12 robot cells.
I am the companies 3rd shift programmer. We do not have engineers at my company. Instead I do all of the duties an Engineer would do (for a fraction of the pay :P) but it is great work experience and good to put on a resume in case it was needed.
So our company in total has added 39 jobs due to the robotic welding department. A large number if you ask me!
You're right, KCP, about people believing they deserve high pay for a job that can be commoditized. But that's human nature. Good days come and we begin to believe we're entitled to those good days. Any job that can be commoditized is eventually at risk.
I agree with you 100% on the "It's a piece of paper" But as I found out with 3M, you need it to get hired. I had a friend that worked there and asked me for a resume. He handed it to the HR dept. Several weeks later I was called in for testing. There was around 40 to 50 people that took the electronics test. I was called in for an interview, and at that point was told I would be 1 of 5 to be hired. 3M hired the first person, then a few weeks later called me, to hire me. The HR person said there was one thing missing in my package, my degree. I explained I recieved all of my electronics training during my 21 yrs in the military. That was not good enough. They needed that "piece of paper". So even though I was number 2 out of all those people, I could not be hired.
While I will not be so bold as to making carte blanche statements, I will say that I do not see this in my experience. For every company that I have been employed, spanning an almost 50 year career, the opposite has been the case. In every instance where a process was automated, there was employee attrition. And, with that elimination of position did not come a replacement of higher educational competency. When I started at my current employer we had about 25 "production" employees. Through my concerted efforts at designing automation equipment, we have in the past 15 years reduced the total employ to 15 members, which includes office staff, while at the same time increasing output (revenue) at least 10-fold. We moved into a more modern & structurally sound facility, and have gained in other ways too.
These machines run for the most part unattended. The existing production employees are knowledgeable in the machines' operations, and are qualified to support them for the most part. We are an ISO 9000 registered company, so ALL of these machines are well-documented in that framework.
I think Alex's point deserves a second look: not only do we need to train people in blue-collar jobs, such as in trade schools, but also those jobs have to get back the respect they used to have, especially when most jobs were blue-collar, meaning pre-automation days. How to give back that respect, I have no idea. I'm not even sure it's possible, but it certainly won't happen if no one's trying.
@kcp, you have hit the nail on the head concerning a piece of paper. I am sure we have all had the misfortune to work with degreed people who could not find their way to the front door if the crowd was not already headed there. By the same token I have worked with grizzled old set-up men who could figure out how to make a process work ,by relying on experience. It takes many different skill sets to make industry work and I am not ready to throw any under the bus, skilled or unskilled.
When I was in a position where i was hiring and firing people the hardest position I ever had to fill was a good janitor. When I found one who was really top notch, he was never content to stay in that position, so he would move up to something more responsible. However when I found a someone content to be a janitor, their work ethic and pride in what they did was nonexistant. I have spoken to other industry HR people who have found the same thing. They may not be skilled as such, but they are essential to a healthy happy work place.
Whether or not you have a degree is really beside the point, because it's a piece of paper. However, I think that in most cases formal training or eduction of some sort is the best way to gain the skills necessary to compete in the marketplace - and the more you know, the better.
I guess the point I really wanted to make is that if one does not have the skills to do a better job than a robot, one should realize that one's job may someday be replaced by automation - it's only a matter of time. And companies have every right to do so if it increases their profits or improves product quality (which, by the way also increases profits). I just can't understand those who think they deserve to be paid enough to buy an SUV for putting screws into holes all day long.
Kcp makes a good point. At the same time, it's important to realize that skills don't necessarily equate to a college education. I believe we need to reinvigorate, and also give respect to, trade schools and training to be a plumber, welder, technician and numerous other in-the-field jobs which are needed and can't be outsourced. This is something that I see as being neglected in the whole STEM debate, important though the STEM discussion is.
I agree, KCP. These days, teachers like to complain about so-called "helicopter parents," who get overly-involved. But the kids of helicopter parents have a far better shot at educational advancement than the kids whose parents don't show up for parent-teacher conferences.
You're right KCP, education quality comes down to the involvement of the parents. All the studies keep showing this. It's not the amount of $$ spent per student or the quality of the teacher's education or how much that teacher is getting paid. It's parental involvement. Some schools in tough neighborhoods have offered free pizza in the evening to get parents to come to school and interact with teachers and administrators. Hasn't worked. The parents don't come.
It happens in the home. By the time my kids hit kindergarten, they we're reading, learning Spanish, learning numbers. The assumption is that they would go to college. And they did.
The emphasis on education was even stronger with my inlaws. They were imigrants. They instilled in their kids that education was freedom, pure and simple. All of their kids ended up with multiple graduate degrees.
At this year's MD&M West show, lots of material suppliers are talking about new formulations for wearables and things that stick to the skin, whether it's adhesives, wound dressings, skin patches and other drug delivery devices, or medical electronics.
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