Speaking of Precision Blog

Speaking of Precision

Speaking of Precision is a knowledge preservation and thought leadership blog covering the precision machining industry, its materials and services. With over 36 years of hands on experience in steelmaking, manufacturing, quality, and management, Miles Free (Milo) Director of Industry Research and Technology at PMPA helps answer "How?" "With what?" and occasionally "Really?"

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Technical Workers are Knowledge Workers

Posted June 10, 2014 11:15 AM by Milo

The majority of the demand for skilled workforce in industry is in this area of engineering and production technology requiring some post high school education or credential, but less than 4-year bachelors degree education.

University of Toledo Engineering Department has a great graphic that shows where various jobs fit on the "knowledge worker" spectrum based on need for mathematical skills. We have added some additional thinking about "where the jobs are- and what they demand."

The occupations on the right side of the diagram demand less mathematics in daily work. Distribution and sales would require counts and arithmetic to balance quantities and sales orders and payment.

  • Operations, Service and Maintenance positions would typically use numbers to look up and specify parts, measurements for fits, and evaluate process inputs and outputs.

  • Production positions would use gages and hand held measuring instruments as well as data from sensors to determine conformance to tolerances and to plot statistical control charts.
  • Senior manufacturing positions would take this a step further to determine offsets and "true positions."
  • Testing and evaluation and quality control works almost exclusively with numeric data and uses Coordinate measuring machines, Optical comparators, and gage blocks to determine conformance to print and capability of process.

The far right of dark blue portion of the diagram corresponds to high school math including algebra; more to the left the positions demand ability to use geometry and trigonometry. The production and manufacturing portions are typically best fit for persons with a one year credential such as a CNC operator certificate, various NIMS credentials, or 2-year associate degrees in various technology fields.

The left most portion of the light blue portion is the realm of 4 year degree engineers and technologists and specialists ((Mechanical Engineers, Metallurgists, Tooling Engineers, Chemists)

The white area on the left typically are positions filled by Master's and Ph.D level grads.

The majority of job openings in advanced manufacturing today require some post high school skilled training, but do not require a 4 year degree.

Technical workers are knowledge workers.

And they are in high demand.

University of Toledo Engineering


Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing this blog entry, which you can finish reading here.

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Re: Technical Workers are Knowledge Workers

06/10/2014 12:40 PM

More High School students need knowledge this fact to lead them to quicker employment and return on your educational investment. You would think if our country's leaders and career counslers promoted this more than the 4 year degree, it would lead to a quicker recovery of the bad unemployment numbers, there for the economy. (especially if they emphasize the need for greater problem solving training during that two years.)

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Re: Technical Workers are Knowledge Workers

06/11/2014 12:14 PM

Yes, but promoting this career path hurts the college-banking complex, as they are not generating as much money through the generation of student loans, which cannot be dismissed through bankruptcy, so they are 'guaranteed investments' to the banks.

Also, we are dealing with bad cases of 'degree inflation' already due to the effects that the college-banking complex has had on our economy and society already. There are already more BS-degree holders fighting for the AS-degree level jobs (since there are not enough BS-degree jobs to go around, after all the H1 visas bringing in low-wage immigrants to fill the 'engineering shortage') then there are AS-degree level jobs available, so anyone with less than a BS degree is not even considered.

There's a similar effect in the US military, especially the Army, when dealing with officers. Every Lieutenant who wishes to advance to Captain has to go through 'Jump School' (Airborne training) simply because each year, there are more Airborne graduates than there are open Captain slots to promote into. And to progress even further, they have to 'appeal' to their CO, who will be providing the recommendations for promotion, which plays heavily on who advances and who doesn't, since at every tier, there are MANY more candidates than positions.

Officers who wish to be promoted do their best to emulate their superior, politicking to get a house in the same neighborhood (so they have more 'off duty contact,' which brings them more to the forefront when thinking about who 'deserves' a promotion), joining the same clubs and organizations as their commander (for the same reason, more face time, and to make themselves seem like a 'mini-me' to their commander), even forcing their family to conform and emulate the commander's family (to increase the 'mini-me' sensation). And when they or their commander rotates to a new assignment, the process repeats, the officer changing everything to become a mirror of their new boss.

Does the military benefit from having all the officers being promoted be nothing but vapid, mercurial 'yes-men?' No, in fact that is counter to having an efficient, 'productive' military. Do we as a society benefit from the degree inflation, where soon you will need a BS degree and $1,000,000 in student loan debt to be able to apply for a job that will pay $100,000 (pre-tax) over the course of your lifetime? No, that's a recipe for complete disaster. But as long as the colleges keep churning out more degreed graduates than there are jobs to employ, we're heading in that direction. Even my old High School AND its chief rival have changed from being Technical High Schools (which taught trades) to College Prep Schools (which only teach what is needed to get into college, on the assumption that every graduate will be pursuing a 2-4 year degree).

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