Chuck, at some point the word will get out that factories are great places to work. When I was a teenager, they were great places to work because they had high pay and great benefits for those who didn't have any college. Now they're great places work because of the quality of work.
*I have problems with the claim that there are so many jobs going unfilled. One is that many of these job descriptions are lists of "wishful thinking". The people with those skills don't exist and didn't in the past either. They are not going to appear just because they were dreamed up by HR or Production management. We don't design products that require materials that don't exist, so why would we plan to build products you can't get the staff for.
*Go back to the late nineties when manufacturers bailed out of employee training and development. That is a good part of why the people wished for are not here today. The statement by Deloitte should be revised to read: "There are 600,000 job opportunities coming for people once they have received the corporate funded training needed."
*I have not seen a University which claims as its prime purpose the goal of providing people for the manufacturing sector. Same can be said for community school systems. Public education has many purposes for many sectors of interest, of which manufacturing is only one.
*An additional problem of perception for manufucturing is that the hands on job skills have proven to not provide stable employment. You can invest in hands on training for several years and then have it quickly fazed out for some other technology or by efforts to replace people with technology. People have caught on to this. Other fields have more predictable employment stability and are more attractive because of it.
I do remember being jealous of the guys in my dorm who were EETs during my first two years. They were doing all kinds of cool stuff like applied electronics and motors, but I was stuck in the "weed-out" classes (The professors would say: look to your left, look to your left, they won't be your classmates in one year) like physics, chemistry, engineering mechanics, english, etc.
As a side note, when we met freshmen who were in the engineering program, we used to say they were majoring in "pre-business" as most of them would drop out of engineering and switch to getting a business degree.
My college had a good program which exposed us to a lot of engineering sciences, instead of keeping us just focused on electrical stuff. Engineering Economics was a very good class, as was Technical Writing. Communication skills are vital as an engineer and I've met so many engineers who don't have them....
Yes, in the early 80's I left high school and went to DeVry for an EET degree. I remember having each of those classes. I finished but found myself in a manufacturing job that required more ME type skills. I went back to school later in life and got a BME degree. To the point of this article, I left high school to go to a 2 year school. Later in life (married with kids) did I go back and get a 4 year degree. I think more students should explore the 2 year programs, work a while, and then decide if the 4 year degree is right for them.
And today, I cannot for the life of me remember why we learned LaPlace Transforms? It was useful for some EE concept, but I cannot remember what for??? Feedback control???
I received my BS degree in Engineering Technology in 1976. We actually learned how to MAKE STUFF. Never regretted it. Over the years dealt with many engineers who could not figure out how to turn on a lathe or mill, let alone be able to actually make anything.
For our economy to get back on track, we need to make stuff, not just outsource it. If it is too expensive, then use your brain to figure a better way to make it less expensively.
Manufacturing is an honorable profession. I am "retired" but still make stuff every day, and would not have it any other way.
Jim_E: That's an interesting comment in your post about the EE vs. EET. and required courses. A nephew of ours, pursued a degree in EET in the late 70s, early 80s, as time & schedule permitted. Not only did he have to take Material Sciences (Strength of Materials), but he also had to take Thermodynamics & a few other "non-electrical" applied science courses, NOT including Chemistry & Physics. And, IF my memory serves me, he also was required to take the Calculis sequence up to & including Complex Analysis & Linear Differential Equations. I know I'm correct about that because I remember helping him w/ his LaPlace Transforms. (which I couldn't solve today IF my life depended on it!!!!)
Speaking for my self a 23 year old guy who completed a degree in marketing (a lovely clean job where only about 30% of the population dies of drug overdoses)and is currently unemployed despite having a decent set of skills, i would trade my 'clean' degree for one of those dirty ones in a second
Most companies got out of the training game when they had no way to retain those trainees. It costs a lot of money to have a good training program and it tended to mean that there was a little less for wages, at least in the short term. So some fresh tainee would finish the program and immediately go looking for more pay. And those companies that would hire them were enjoyng the fact that they didn't have to fund the training. Those companies got tired of training other companies workers.
I saw this up close in the late 80's. The university I was attending appointed a new President and then the big push was to rename from a College to University. They had a very highly rated Welding program and the best he could say about it was that we didn't need the "arky sparkies". The program was very hands on and the graduates were in demand because they had the prictical skills to go with the theory. Employers loved those graduates. But it was somehow beneath the dignity of the university to have it's students getting their hands dirty.
And then we have moved much of our manufacturing across our borders because we have developed this idea that any job that gets your hands dirty is somehow beneath us. And so we have the agument - are fast food workers worth $15.00/hour?
We are living in a culture that has made the idea of skilled work something to be looked on with disdain. I am sure you have seen those heroic pose pictures from the 40's and 50's of steel mill workers and high steel workers and manufacturing workers (Rosie the Riveter). There was honor and dignity in work. But, because we have moved many of those jobs across our borders we are sayng that those jobs have little value and our heros are lazy slackers with poor morals. No more shop class in high school Somebody might get hurt, or worse, get their hands dirty.
Our kids graduate from highschool with little useful knowledge and go to college where they are taught by teaching assistants because the PHD's don't weant to get their hands dirty working with students. ANd we turn out many students with nothing but debt. But we worship the "Colleg Degree" as if that will guarrantee everyone a 6 figure income. But then the reality of the market kicks in. If everyone has a degree, then a degree isn't worth much. An engineer or 2 can provide work for 50 peole. But if those 50 people aren't there to do the labor there is no need for the engineer. SO our 50 engineers are worth very little. Supply and Demand. Market forces. ANd that is another area where we have become totally ignorant...
Most consumer products are unrepairable, and are designed to expire just as the warranty runs out. So the people making those products know they are junk and they put even less effort into making a good product. After all, they are almost the untouchables in our society, they actually might get their hands dirty.
I teach mechanical design at a 2-year college and our students have no trouble finding good paying jobs. The employers complaining about no applicants for their open positions are usually the ones offering $13/hour. Our graduates won't even pursue something like that. So yes, manufacturers have got to pony-up a little more cash to get the people they want.
Another issue is that high school counselors push the vast majority of their students into 4-year colleges. It looks better for the high school if they can say "90% of our students go on to get their bachelor's degree." Never mind the fact that more than 50% of them do not finish college. High schools have to figure out what's happening in the "real world."
Many of our younger students stay at home while going to school and almost all of them work at least part-time, saving a lot of money. They can also get paid internships and guaranteed jobs when they graduate. We have agreements with many 4-year institutions making it easier for graduates to go on to school later and get their bachelor's. Most of the time their employer will foot the bill for it.
The 2-year college is a great option for many people and I think those of you reading this column should help spread the word. Got to your local high school career days and tell them about what a great job you have and also tell them how they can get a career like yours.
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