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Dismal Job Prospects
Old 09-06-2012, 09:37 AM   #1
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Dismal Job Prospects

This article points our that job prospects for PhD scientists is dismal and low paying despite govt calls for more people to enter the field:

U.S. pushes for more scientists, but the jobs aren’t there - The Washington Post

I guess the bottom line is to stick to engineering for now if you want a math/science based career.
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:44 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by DFW_M5 View Post
This article points our that job prospects for PhD scientists is dismal and low paying despite govt calls for more people to enter the field:

U.S. pushes for more scientists, but the jobs aren’t there - The Washington Post

I guess the bottom line is to stick to engineering for now if you want a math/science based career.
The PhDs graduating from here are going right to w*rk...
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Old 09-06-2012, 10:07 AM   #3
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I have a friend who only has a Bachelors degree who used to do cancer research.... she was let go many years ago after funding dried up for lab... she was never able to get another job doing research as there are so many people looking for these jobs with higher qualifications....

She did land a job with a company that sells stuff to labs as she knows what they need etc.... but will never be a researcher again....
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Old 09-06-2012, 10:08 AM   #4
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Be willing to live in a foreign country and learn some more languages. It sucks that this is what we have left to our younger generations, but that's feeling more and more like the reality.
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Old 09-06-2012, 10:21 AM   #5
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One problem is that jobs become available where demand is growing, and in the US demand is slowing as the population ages. In an environment such as ours new job creation needs to be geared toward exports, something easier to write than make happen.
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Old 09-06-2012, 07:01 PM   #6
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Some here might be familiar with the show "Dirty Jobs" that airs on the Discovery Channel. I've enjoyed the show when I've seen it. Anyway, the show's host, Mike Rowe, has an interesting blog and runs some programs to help young folks find out about various careers that they may not have considered.

Rowe's open letter to Mitt Romney is here. It reads in part:

Quote:
[Discussing questions he's been asked by the press about various economic and employment problems] . . . In each case, I shared my theory that most of these “problems” were in fact symptoms of something more fundamental – a change in the way Americans viewed hard work and skilled labor. That’s the essence of what I’ve heard from the hundreds of men and women I’ve worked with on Dirty Jobs. Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillers…they all tell me the same thing over and over, again and again – our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce. We are no longer impressed with cheap electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.


Today, we can see the consequences of this disconnect in any number of areas, but none is more obvious than the growing skills gap. Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.” Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” . . . (I always thought there something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)
(He wrote a similar letter to President Obama a few years ago.)

Rowe is on to something, but I think the problem is a cultural one, not just an educational one. And there are clear cross-linkages to the immigration debate we are having in this country, but we'll leave that alone so the thread can stay on track.

The expectation that we'll find "fulfillment" in our jobs or that every day at work should be a source of joy is a recent development. I think parents, guidance counselors, teachers, and other mentors would do kids a big favor if they instead stressed the importance (to the individual and society) of simply earning a living.
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:14 PM   #7
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Interesting that this crops up on the same day that the media is reporting a shortage of framing carpenters, roofers and concrete workers. Of course most of those jobs used to be done by illegals, from south of the border. It appears that few natives want these sorts of jobs (a roofer gets cooked or frozen depending on the time of the year for example).
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:40 PM   #8
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Interesting that this crops up on the same day that the media is reporting a shortage of framing carpenters, roofers and concrete workers. Of course most of those jobs used to be done by illegals, from south of the border. It appears that few natives want these sorts of jobs (a roofer gets cooked or frozen depending on the time of the year for example).
The whole concept of a shortage in a capitalist economy seems very strange to me. If businesses are really looking employees to do this work they will certainly be able to find them if they (1) just pay more or (2) be willing to train those with less experience. This applies equally to carpenters or Ph.D. level chemists.

With regards to grad school, I'm surprised there are still any american's going into STEM careers. Even a decade ago, the large majority of students in my program were foreigners (myself included). While some specialties can do very well, the economic rewards in STEM compared to alternatives often come up short.
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:54 PM   #9
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The whole concept of a shortage in a capitalist economy seems very strange to me. If businesses are really looking employees to do this work they will certainly be able to find them if they (1) just pay more or (2) be willing to train those with less experience. This applies equally to carpenters or Ph.D. level chemists.

With regards to grad school, I'm surprised there are still any american's going into STEM careers. Even a decade ago, the large majority of students in my program were foreigners (myself included). While some specialties can do very well, the economic rewards in STEM compared to alternatives often come up short.
However we do see changes for the next period reservior engineering will be a good career, from being from 1984 till 2007 a bad place to be, as will exploration geology and geophysics.
Of course here we find the conundrum with grad school, its purpose is to turn out replicas of the professors to do more university research, obviously not a sustainable system unless PhD birth control is imposed (2-4 candidates per career per professor for example)
Masters make more sense here than Phds, and are actually preferred by a lot of industry.
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Old 09-07-2012, 08:18 AM   #10
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The whole concept of a shortage in a capitalist economy seems very strange to me. If businesses are really looking employees to do this work they will certainly be able to find them if they (1) just pay more or (2) be willing to train those with less experience. This applies equally to carpenters or Ph.D. level chemists.
Bingo, big business has been unwilling to do either 1) or 2), while at the same time sr execs continue to feather their own nests. This is not a recipe for success in my mind. If the demand to grow the business isn't there, thats one thing, but this ongoing dribble of "Oh, we can't find qualified candidates" is a lame excuse IMHO.
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:12 AM   #11
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Some here might be familiar with the show "Dirty Jobs" that airs on the Discovery Channel. I've enjoyed the show when I've seen it. Anyway, the show's host, Mike Rowe, has an interesting blog and runs some programs to help young folks find out about various careers that they may not have considered.

Rowe's open letter to Mitt Romney is here. It reads in part:



(He wrote a similar letter to President Obama a few years ago.)

Rowe is on to something, but I think the problem is a cultural one, not just an educational one. And there are clear cross-linkages to the immigration debate we are having in this country, but we'll leave that alone so the thread can stay on track.

The expectation that we'll find "fulfillment" in our jobs or that every day at work should be a source of joy is a recent development. I think parents, guidance counselors, teachers, and other mentors would do kids a big favor if they instead stressed the importance (to the individual and society) of simply earning a living.

This just reminded me of a story one of my sisters told me.... she taught elementary school...... there was one boy who a teacher told that if he did not study he would be a ditch digger (that was the fall back job you told back then).... many years later he came to the school with one of his kids... my sister asked what he did for a living.... he said 'ditch digger' and smiled.... she looked at him and he explained... he operated a big backhoe or drag line (do not know what he used).... got paid big money doing it.... but he really enjoyed telling his old teachers he was a ditch digger...
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:14 AM   #12
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If the demand to grow the business isn't there, thats one thing, but this ongoing dribble of "Oh, we can't find qualified candidates" is a lame excuse IMHO.
I agree. The only difference between now and generations past is that businesses today refuse to provide "on the job training". Much of this is cheapness and much of it is because so many businesses now have almost NO redundancy in their workforce (see also "being cheap") so they don't have the ability to let someone ramp up for a few weeks before being productive (and there is no one around to train them).

In some cases it feels like an excuse to seek H1-B visas or send the operation to India.
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Old 09-07-2012, 02:33 PM   #13
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Unlike the 1950s-1970s, some businesses now just don't have the pricing power to allow them to increase wages to attract workers. They face overseas competition with lower costs and if they can't find workers to perform the work at wages that allow them to earn a profit, then they just don't do the work.

Also, at least according to the anecdotal reporting from local businesses which do precision machine work, the problem isn't just about the skills of the workforce, it's about the attitude of many younger workers. They are less reliable, and that is a big deal in assembly work.

The "fat times" are over, but there's a whole cohort that hasn't gotten the word. I think it's hard to argue that either workers or businesses aren't reacting to market forces--but that's ALL of the market forces (including existing disincentives for US businesses to hire more US workers, and disincentives for US candidates to take these jobs.)

What to do? I don't know an answer on the national level, but on a personal level maybe it argues for considering these workforce factors when deciding on the international mix of equities in our portfolios. It shouldn't trump everything else (rule of law, respect for property rights, financial system transparency, corruption, etc) , but it certainly affects competitiveness. Are US equities priced too high due to inertia and factors that are no longer true? MPT mavens want to know!
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Old 09-07-2012, 03:26 PM   #14
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If the demand to grow the business isn't there, thats one thing, but this ongoing dribble of "Oh, we can't find qualified candidates" is a lame excuse IMHO.
I think it is both of these things, and in addition, increases in productivity and improvements in technology that reduce the need for many skills. One question in my mind is how much pressure would there be to force average wages down if CEOs did not benefit so dramatically from record high levels of profit.
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Old 09-07-2012, 03:56 PM   #15
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I am humbled by discussion but feel the need to provide input. I graduated form college with a BA degree in the late '70's. With a wife and kids soon on the way panic takes over. Do the stuff no one else will do and majically you'll slowly get ahead. Keep your eyes open for opportunities and plod along. Things work out.
Then worry about your kids not having it as good as you and you've completed the cycle.
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Old 09-08-2012, 06:50 AM   #16
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The expectation that we'll find "fulfillment" in our jobs or that every day at work should be a source of joy is a recent development. I think parents, guidance counselors, teachers, and other mentors would do kids a big favor if they instead stressed the importance (to the individual and society) of simply earning a living.
I've thought that too. In the era I grew up in nobody mentioned that a job had to be "fulfilling", only that it be steady work, paid well, and if you liked it, well, that was just icing on the cake.

But then I was raised by people who grew up in the 1930's Depression. Simply having food to eat was not taken for granted. That changes one's perspective about priorities.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:01 PM   #17
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When I was growing up I worked in agriculture (working in corn fields, slopping pigs, etc), doing dry cleaning work, custodial jobs, going to the Oscar Meyer kill floor (at4:30am) to collect hearts, eye balls,etc. and on and on. . . Paid for my way through college without debt. Nobody told me those jobs were beneath my dignity.
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:07 PM   #18
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When I was growing up I worked in agriculture (working in corn fields, slopping pigs, etc), doing dry cleaning work, custodial jobs, going to the Oscar Meyer kill floor (at4:30am) to collect hearts, eye balls,etc. and on and on. . . Paid for my way through college without debt. Nobody told me those jobs were beneath my dignity.
Ya, I tend to forget those things over the years, but I agree. I didn't give a thought about dignity, just making some money which was exciting in and of itself: mowing, custodial, cooking, hayfields, tobacco fields, grocery store clerk (now that was a good gig in college, I got union wage scale! ). I don't think I am man enough to do any of those anymore except the grocery work.
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