Sunday, November 18, 2012

By Now You Must Know How Much It Brines my Scotch

To ever agree with The Mustache of Understanding.

However this is a subject that has been near and dear to me for a very long time.  And on this one subject on this one day, Mr. Friedman is quite correct:
If You’ve Got the Skills, She’s Got the Job

Tapani eventually found a welder from another firm who had passed the American Welding Society Certified Welding Inspector exam, the industry’s gold standard, and he trained her welders — some of whom took several tries to pass the exam — so she could finish the job. Since then, Tapani trained a woman from Stacy, who had originally learned welding to make ends meet as a single mom. She took on the challenge of becoming a certified welding inspector, passed the exam and Tapani made her the company’s own in-house instructor, no longer relying on the local schools.

“She knows how to read a weld code. She can write work instructions and make sure that the people on the floor can weld to that instruction,” so “we solved the problem by training our own people,” said Tapani, adding that while schools are trying hard, training your own workers is often the only way for many employers to adapt to “the quick response time” demanded for “changing skills.” But even getting the right raw recruits is not easy. Welding “is a $20-an-hour job with health care, paid vacations and full benefits,” said Tapani, but “you have to have science and math. I can’t think of any job in my sheet metal fabrication company where math is not important. If you work in a manufacturing facility, you use math every day; you need to compute angles and understand what happens to a piece of metal when it’s bent to a certain angle.”

Who knew? Welding is now a STEM job — that is, a job that requires knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math.

Employers across America will tell you similar stories. It’s one reason we have three million open jobs around the country but 8 percent unemployment. We’re in the midst of a perfect storm: a Great Recession that has caused a sharp increase in unemployment and a Great Inflection — a merger of the information technology revolution and globalization that is simultaneously wiping out many decent-wage, middle-skilled jobs, which were the foundation of our middle class, and replacing them with decent-wage, high-skilled jobs. Every decent-paying job today takes more skill and more education, but too many Americans aren’t ready. This problem awaits us after the “fiscal cliff.”

Unlike so many vast problem stare us in the face, the solution to this one is entirely within our control.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Driftglass, but smart people are a threat to conservatives and bigots and religious fundamentalists and neoliberal libertarians.

So, we are left to pretend that chanting "U!S!A! We're number one!!!" is the equivalent of an introductory physics class and memorizing a few Bible verses is the equivalent of biology.

It reminds me of a rant I went on about the secessionists who think they will just home school their kids, who will somehow be ready for high-education jobs. You can't teach your kids (legal) pharmacology at home, nor medicine. Are we really to allow grave robbing again so people can dissect cadavers in their garage, and hope that prepares kids for a career in medicine and not a life of therapy?

Look at The Mustache's conundrum. Surely he must realize that at some level, his wealth and Pulitzer seat will not protect his gawd-awful twaddle from the burning sword of an educated man.


Bustednuckles said...

These are the consequences of the great dumbing down of America that has been going on for forty years.
Every time I run across a functionally illiterate adult in this day and age it shocks me but it happens all too frequently.
The younger generations are just as bad if not worse in some cases even with the mandated competency tests they have now.
The jobs are going to continue to go unfilled because now nobody can afford to go to fucking college even if they just want an associates degree yet we can spend billions on a jet fighter that nobody wants or needs.
Priorities baby, we has 'em.

Sean Riley said...

As an IT worker who until 2008 (when the crash threw my employer into a panic and let about half of us go) had a regular gig that paid pretty well, my Associates degree was perfectly adequate. Once the "Great Recession" set in I got my ass back in school toot-sweet. I've been keeping my head above water by contracting, and taking college classes at night. There are NO 4 year community colleges here in Sand Land, so I'm doing the "for-profit online school thang" since ASU doesn't offer the scheduling flexibility to allow me to work and go to school simultaneously. I won't have my Bachelor's for another 3 years (total of 6), and my pay grade won't move much until then...unless I'm very lucky and fall into something that pays better than 35K or so per year, despite my 15 years of experience. That's life in the Southwest. Hey, I can't really complain, I'm doing better than many folks I know...

Jay said...

I have an STEM Ph.D. and am unemployed. I know several degreed mechanical engineers who are severely underemployed. We graduate about twice as many STEM grads in this country as we need.

The problem isn't too little training, but too much. Most people with any mathematical aptitude at all go to college and take on debt; that debt makes them uneconomical and the training makes them overqualified for a welding job.

The level of math and geometry these jobs need is taught in any decent high school (and actually any decent high school teaches basic calculus, which these jobs generally don't need).

It's like shopping for a new car: employers need certain skills (trigonometry, a decent head for math), but they have trouble finding those skills in a package that doesn't come with a lot of expensive, unnecessary options.

n1ck said...

Try getting a bachelorrete degree on student loans, then going to law school on student loans, and graduating in the summer of 2008.

It's a catch-22 for a lot of us. We're obviously intelligent, highly educated, but don't have "experience". No one wants to hire an unemployed attorney for manual labor, and law firms don't want to hire an unemployed attorney as a legal secretary or paralegal, since you're "overqualified".

This country is fucked because if you can't immediately produce your employer a profit, this fucking quarter, you're useless.

Jobs go unfilled when it would be easy to retool intelligent, capable people to do them. Not only that, but by training them in-house, you gain an employee who knows exactly what you want, and with various skill sets so they can actually see things at a different angle than you might see them yourself as an employer.

The commodification of America is its downfall. Abandon all hope ye who enter.

Sean Riley said...

Off topic, yes, but I can't wait - here he is, Ross Douche-hat!

Anonymous said...

Actually, this is misleading: our main problem is still a lack of demand, not a lack of workers with special qualifications (mismatch of workers and jobs). If there were really more demand for STEM or otherwise qualified workers, wages of these would increase, but we do not see that. Of course, education does help (more educated workers have less unemployment).-- And by the way, welding was always a job requiring much attention to detail, quality control, and experience; and I'd think that $20/hour+ benefits for a qualified welder is what you already had to pay 20 years ago.-- There is much posturing; employers are often looking for CHEAP employees. And age discrimination is rampant, against candidates with ample STEM knowledge and experience, and employers too often expect you to be come readily trained (in whatever the latest programming scheme is, or welding), and rather wait for the ideal candidate to show up rather than train them themselves. Friedman's column is an underhand way of blaming the unemployed for not having the right skills, so there's no need to do anything about them.

evodevo said...

What Anonymous said, in spades. No one in mfg trains in-house anymore - they want instantly qualified personnel for shit wages and so-so benefits. AND no unionization. Then they whine that there aren't enough H1-B visas being granted to accommodate them. Let the bastards start paying a REAL wage for that skill level and train lower-mid-level hirees themselves.
We are all Chinese to them.

n1ck said...

Ultimately, everything has been rigged, and it has to topple.

All of it.

Unfortunately, it's painful and people want to wish it away with dreams of non-violent protest.

Sorry, that isn't going to work.

Bukko Canukko said...

I didn't notice it until tonight (working a 12-hour overnighter with a lower-than-usual patient census so even MORE time to waste!) but did you participate in Taibbi's "Mock the Moustache" column-parodying contest? As much as you analyze him, and Bobo et. al., that hand grenade could have been yours. Taibbi says he's going to do it again next year. Wait for it...

blackdaug said...

God that was funny..
I cant make it through a mustache column without getting a horrible headache. Maybe if I ate a few shrooms in advance...
Syria, acid spewing midwife, lobs hand grenades of hate into the pottery barn of Islam...or something...
To think of the dump trucks of money they pay him..makes me ill.