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All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

Posted November 10, 2011 7:24 AM

In September the BBC reported that almost 25% of UK engineering graduates were taking unskilled labor jobs, and in fact less than half were finding work related to their degree. Is this a sign that industry doesn't need more engineers, or that quality graduates are lacking? Or do you think that engineers are able to excel in a wide variety of careers, even those outside their primary area of study?

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Anonymous Poster #1
#1

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/10/2011 12:40 PM

Well, this raises other issues. How many students look at statistical forecasts for their chosen career when deciding to pick one? I knew a guy who just loved to shoe horses...

Like it or not, human activity is a "system." Yet there is no real planning as a species, to control, modulate, or regulate how the system works. (And the IMF doesn't count. Even if one thought it did, it's not working too well for Greece and Italy.) Resource planning with goals is what is needed. Nations are too divided for that to happen. We tend to leave it to the "rules" of Nature to regulate the system (famines, floods, earthquakes, etc.) The remaining uncertainties are due to human nature (wars, for instance). Markets (human nature, expressed) are the supposed "wisdom" of our system. There are needs and then there are goals. Goals can be the outcome of needs and also for non-subsistence objectives. What are they for the human species?

In short, why should we be surprised that we get surprised by such surprises.

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#2

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/11/2011 1:46 AM

It is a meaningless phrase, as I ever met. Schooled up in what? Early medieval English literature in origami architecture, or some such??? I bet dollars to donouts, that you can get a parchment in some such inane degree.

Does that entitle anyone a well paying position?

Or let Darwin work its magic?

What about getting a degree in anything, that works, that is needed.??

Or, I avert my eyes, some people should learn a trade, WELL??? Meaning learning a trade well, and actually performing it. Oh, my, a novel idea. Performing, that is needed! What is the world coming to?!?

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#3

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/11/2011 7:40 AM

I have decided to go back to school late in life. I've begun my journey through a four year degree in MET at Purdue. I feel confident in obtaining gainful employment, even late in life, because I am able to observe my "competition" all around me in school.

I expected to feel befuddled while studying next to the youth admitted to a school like Purdue. Not so.

I'm pretty sure there are some parents that are talking these kids into going to school convinced their baby is a genius.

I'm blessed to have been admitted and i am very happy with how I am doing. I don't understand how they are "ok" with just passing, if passing their classes.

IMHO, degrees are being given to people who don't have, or are not able to retain the knowledge.

Maybe they need to remove a couple choice pieces of metal from their head and cover a few tattoos before the interview.

Sorry for being a judgemental a$$hat here, but it's hard for me to understand why they even show up sometimes.

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#4

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/11/2011 9:04 AM

Why did Post #1 by Anonymous get off topic votes? The questions raised there are perfectly legitimate. It only makes sense to check about the need for the skills or information that we will acquire in college, trade school, etc. before we go into a particular market.

Whether someone can excel in an area outside of their primary area of study has less to do with what they have been trained in as opposed to what kind of person they are in their work ethic, attitude, etc. It all comes down to matching the skills required by the job to the persons ability to meet those requirements. Especially in a weak economic environment like this where an employer needs to have the best people he can to get the best output he can for the money he puts out.

You can teach skills to people but it is much more difficult, if possible at all, to help someone to have a good attitude and a go-getter work ethic.

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#5

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/11/2011 10:38 AM

In my opinion, a person who is a professional at a trade like engineering is a creator. It doesn't mean that they can do anything... but within certain parameters, they can create and maintain stuff that is essential to our entire civilized world, and even create new stuff that doesn't exist yet.

Subsequently, I am shocked to hear that they can't find work. It is almost like the definition of insanity. Maybe they can't find the 100k$ job.. but to not find work in an industrial or even city area suggests they are not conscious of their own 'talents' and not marketing effectively.

Not everyone is a Nikola Tesla, fixing and repairing Edison's DC systems, enabling a significant awareness raising with Edison... but surely a difference can be made, paid or otherwise, that can be used as a marketing effort.

Chris

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#6

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/11/2011 11:07 AM

In the ole USA we are bringing home a good number,300k troops to an economy that has bit the dirt and look at promises of having 100K of them working by 2014.BFD..We are too graduating, Teachers, Engineers, and what ever you can think of, into a world that does not have the money or the jobs for these individuals while we waste billions to elect a politician to a job that pays 'zelch' in comparison...Sure they, as in days past, must begin at the bottom of the totum pole and make their way by washing dishes, sweeping floors, hauling hay or wireing houses..The 'Degree' does not make the job. The job is of your own making be it in your field of expertise or in a close resemblance thereof. You grab onto opportunities as they exist and create the job, Business, or project or your betterment. Unskilled as it may be, the 'Degree' will make it easier and the path smoother. Should I say 'Amen'..

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#7

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/11/2011 11:35 AM

I wonder if in England they have something equivalent to the H1B visa program in the US. If foreign engineers can get permission for them and their family to live in England, based on an alleged shortage of engineers, that would be great for their employers, who are glad to have tractable indentured servants working in England at a fraction of the wages they would have to pay to an Englishman. Just like what happened in ancient Rome: importing slave labor is impoverishing the middle class.

Engineers are pragmatic problem-solvers, so I would suppose this capability is evident in all else they do, even outside their primary area of study. The Chinese politburo are all engineers, and China is rapidly developing its infrastructure so its poor people are better off, and it is leading world progress in many technology fields while avoiding debt. The US, which is run by lawyers, is on the opposite trajectory: the industrial base is deteriorating rapidly, technology development is stagnant, and it can't balance its budget. I guess England, Greece, and Italy are run by lawyers instead of engineers because the same symptoms are evident.

A doctor, and engineer, and a lawyer were arguing about who was more beloved of God. The doctor said: "According to the Bible, God was the first doctor, as he took a rib from Adam to make Eve." The engineer said: "Yes, but before that, God created the universe and all of its manifold wonders out of chaos, so God was the first engineer." The lawyer said: "And where do you think the chaos came from?"

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#15
In reply to #7

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/17/2011 9:58 AM

Just a little correction. The top political positions are largely occupied by men that have attended Eton School, followed by Cambridge or Oxford Universities and then being employed in the political industry as advisors, etc. Most of them have no knowledge of work outside of politics. There are the occasional exceptions, of course, such as Margaret Thatcher, who was a chemist.

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Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/17/2011 11:05 AM

men that have attended Eton School, followed by Cambridge or Oxford Universities and then being employed in the political industry as advisors, etc. Most of them have no knowledge of work outside of politics.
This description is usually abbreviated to "Twats"
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#8

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/11/2011 12:08 PM

A citation to the original BBC article would have been helpful. Maybe a lot of these folks are civil engineers who can't find work because of the deep budget cuts in the UK. Maybe their privileged life styles, coming from advanced societies hasn't equipped them to create the products that appeal to consumers in less developed countries, where demand is still growing.

It is important to recognize that the UK like most of the western world is having a tough time economically. In western societies the cost to properly feed and care for an engineer are five to ten times greater than in China or India, so in real terms a western engineer needs to be five or ten times more productive. Probably very few of them achieve that level.

Anecdotally I have a son studying math and computer science, and he reports that the engineering students he encounters in class are a pretty dull and unimaginative lot, lacking in basic critical thinking skills, understanding of physics, etc. I'm sure that part of this is 'guild think', but I also suspect there's something to his observations. Engineering is not considered very sexy.

I'm not an engineer by training, but my business is to conceive, design, produce and sell test equipment to clients all over the world. Most of what I know comes from the fact that my dad (an engineer) had a big collection of tools that I was free to use (and lose). I spent a lot of spare time building things and taking things apart. I would guess that many of those now studying engineering had a different experience growing up, possibly involving video games. So in spite of the best training that money can buy they are missing the intuitive understanding of how things work that (except for individuals of true genius) can only come from fiddling around with stuff. The ability to read and compare spec sheets is an important skill to be sure, but ultimately engineering is about creativity. Creative vision can be learned, but it is fiendishly difficult to teach.

I also suspect that our colleges and universities have become money-making operations, and their 'business models' are based more on quantity than quality. The soaring cost of education suggests that this is a new economic bubble. Ideally there would be better communication between industry (or what's left of it) and the schools to assure a match between the skills needed and the subjects taught, and I understand a lot of that is going on, but this is not really in the financial interest of the universities. High tech subjects are much more costly to teach.

In a better world these new engineering grads wouldn't be looking for jobs - they'd be creating jobs for themselves by creating new products. But in the world that we in the west have created, they are saddled by student debt and our high cost of living. Finding the money to develop a prototype requires a level of personal sacrifice that most could not stomach. Undoubtedly in spite of those handicaps some will succeed, but it should not be surprising that many won't.

So to go off topic a bit I'd say that we've buttered our bread on both sides, and now we have to sleep on it. That's why in spite of the fact that I consider myself a 'capitalist' I have a lot of sympathy for the Occupy Wall Street crowd. It seems to me that we have painted ourselves into a corner, where the bean counters and lawyers call the shots.

We made this world that our children must grow up in, through the decision we've made and those we have avoided. Until we find the courage to rein in our bloated financial industry it will continue to drive up costs (without adding value), subvert our political system, and deprive the real economy (the production of things that people want and need) of the resources it requires. I'm not holding my breath...

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/11/2011 12:19 PM

gfa!

"It seems to me that we have painted ourselves into a corner, where the bean counters and lawyers call the shots."

and politicians (usually lawyers with an appetite for power)

If an engineer designed a school system.. it would more likely produce the desired results.

there are two results. money (profits) and trained grads... perhaps 'they' have gotten lost in the money and marketing part.

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Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/11/2011 1:38 PM

"I have a son studying math and computer science, and he reports that the engineering students he encounters in class are a pretty dull and unimaginative lot, lacking in basic critical thinking skills, understanding of physics, etc."

"I would guess that many of those now studying engineering had a different experience growing up, possibly involving video games. So in spite of the best training that money can buy they are missing the intuitive understanding of how things work."

"I also suspect that our colleges and universities have become money-making operations, and their 'business models' are based more on quantity than quality."

These 3 statements are indicative of an educational system that is not for the true betterment of it's students. It is a converyor type system that drops off "good little employees" at the end of the conveyor. And, they're not really so "good" because they haven't learned to think on their own or motivated to any kind of greatness. The job of an educational system is to challenge and inspire their young charges to want to learn and to be prepared to start businesses and think like entrepreneurs. A great resource to look at in this regard is a book by Oliver DeMille titled, "A Thomas Jefferson Education". I understand that not everyone is capable of starting a business, for a variety of reasons, but they should at least have that mentality as they work for someone else who is and to be able to provide very high value to that business.

Since the educational system isn't doing it's job; although there are some great teachers that are doing a great job, it is incumbent upon us as parents (and for those of you who are, grandparents) to help our children/grandchildren to learn those skills of critical and creative thinking. Shut off the stinking idiot box and the electronic games (for us and them) and provide our kids with our example of reading high quality books and provide great books for them that will challenge them and educate them about great people, how they thought, what they accomplished and the results of their lives.

"In a better world these new engineering grads wouldn't be looking for jobs - they'd be creating jobs for themselves by creating new products. But in the world that we in the west have created, they are saddled by student debt and our high cost of living."

Part of the reason that most of the students and graduates are saddled with enormous amounts of debt is our accepted thinking about education. We have the expectation that every kid should move directly from High School to College. Why? Have the kids get a job (internship), hopefully in the field that interests them and let them find out whether they like that particular field while at the same time earning some money for the educational time coming in the future. Then, when they do go to school they are going on their own "dime" and will also know why they are there and not screw around so much. They will also be a little older and hopefully wiser because of the experiences they have had in the real world.

I think there definely is a plan to dumb down our society (history, founding principles, economics, etc.) and make us a bunch of gullible sheep who can be led around at the will of someone else for their gain. These people in Occupy ....... are the results of this educational system where they think the government or anyone else who is seeing some financial success owes them a living or some other perk, without them having to work their guts out for it.

Life isn't fair or ideal and the sooner people realize that the sooner they will get rid of their entitlement mentality and get to work on their own. "The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them." Shaw, George Bernard

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#11

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/11/2011 11:18 PM

If a young graduate/diploma holder is fit for employment,all employers will compete with each other to employ them. The fact is engineering courses are not designed to give students what they need to do a job but lectures by PH.D holders in theory. If we replace professors by well experienced engineers and include practical work and site visits instead of lab work a graduate/diplomate/technician would be useful to the society.

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#12

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/12/2011 5:21 AM

Over qualified and under experienced.
Been there done that, it's an old old story.

Employers don't want to pay while experience is being gained... but it's short sighted, that's why they need to bring in more apprentice schemes and on the job training/further education.Also universities need to drag themselves out of the 19th century and teach relevant stuff with relevant hands on skills.
Oh and take all the bean counters and send 'em on a fact finding trip to the Antarctic.
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#13

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/14/2011 5:41 AM

Scary news. And here we thought it was only happening down here in SA. As for the reasons why this is now happening: One guess is that companies do not want to take on as many numbers of fresh graduates as they used to. . . . I guess this could be because they might not want to spend money on training programs. What other answers might the Cr4 group think of ?

In the short term it saves come money but in the long term it could have disastrous consequences. Not good investment practice.

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#14

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/17/2011 12:46 AM

Hmm, unfortunately universities still grade on the bell curve so there are still just as many HD students as there ever was. doesn't mean they are competent. Yet the same is said of a fourth year apprentice, the most learning is in their fifth year.

Engineers out of work, come to Australia. If you cannot get a visa hire an old fishing trawler and come on over. you might have to wait a year or two in a detention centre but you'll be fed, occasionally, and probably not washed. People have to be prepared to go where the work is, just check out the large number of ex-pat engineers in Oz. Industry will always need engineers, but ones with a drive and passion to do the hardwork, particularly in an increasingly competitive market. The bell curve is not competitive when you're surrounded by turkeys.

Finally, university used to be about learning to think (and being to apply that across different topics?). If that is no longer the case then we are DOOMED...

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#17

Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/17/2011 6:34 PM

There must be thousands of job openings out there for educated engineers that want to work. The big corporations all want to get visas for foreign engineers, because they can't find any!

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Re: All Schooled Up and Nowhere to Go?

11/17/2011 10:29 PM

Educating engineers is like half-baked bread. Without planned training under experienced engineers engineers will be useless to the employer.

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