WHERE WE ARE:

The manufacturing industry remains an essential component of the U.S. economy.  In 2016, manufacturing accounted for almost twelve percent (11.7%) of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and contributed slightly over two trillion dollars ($2.18 trillion) to our economy. Every dollar spent in manufacturing adds close to two dollars ($1.81) to the economy because it contributes to development in auxiliary sectors such as logistics, retail, and business services.  I personally think this is a striking number when you compare that contribution to other sectors of our economy.  Interestingly enough, according to recent research, manufacturing could constitute as much as thirty-three percent (33%) of the U.S. GDP if both its entire value chain and production for other sectors are included.  Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that employment in manufacturing has been trending up since January of 2017. After double-digit gains in the first quarter of 2017, six thousand (6,000) new jobs were added in April.  Currently, the manufacturing industry employs 12,396,000 people, which equals more than nine percent (9%) of the U.S. workforce.   Nonetheless, many experts are concerned that these employment gains are soon to be halted by the ever-rising adoption of automation. Yet automation is inevitable—and like in the previous industrial revolutions, automation is likely to result in job creation in the long term.  If we look back at the Industrial Revolution.

INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION:

The Industrial Revolution began in the late 18th century when a series of new inventions such as the spinning jenny and steam engine transformed manufacturing in Britain. The changes in British manufacturing spread across Europe and America, replacing traditional rural lifestyles as people migrated to cities in search of work. Men, women and children worked in the new factories operating machines that spun and wove cloth, or made pottery, paper and glass.

Women under 20 made comprised the majority of all factory workers, according to an article on the Industrial Revolution by the Economic History Association. Many power loom workers, and most water frame and spinning jenny workers, were women. However, few women were mule spinners, and male workers sometimes violently resisted attempts to hire women for this position, although some women did work as assistant mule spinners. Many children also worked in the factories and mines, operating the same dangerous equipment as adult workers.  As you might suspect, this was a great departure from times prior to the revolution.

WHERE WE ARE GOING:

In an attempt to create more jobs, the new administration is reassessing free trade agreements, leveraging tariffs on imports, and promising tax incentives to manufacturers to keep their production plants in the U.S. Yet while these measures are certainly making the U.S. more attractive for manufacturers, they’re unlikely to directly increase the number of jobs in the sector. What it will do, however, is free up more capital for manufacturers to invest in automation. This will have the following benefits:

  • Automation will reduce production costs and make U.S. companies more competitive in the global market. High domestic operating costs—in large part due to comparatively high wages—compromise the U.S. manufacturing industry’s position as the world leader. Our main competitor is China, where low-cost production plants currently produce almost eighteen percent (17.6%) of the world’s goods—just zero-point percent (0.6%) less than the U.S. Automation allows manufacturers to reduce labor costs and streamline processes. Lower manufacturing costs results in lower product prices, which in turn will increase demand.

Low-cost production plants in China currently produce 17.6% of the world’s goods—just 0.6% less

than the U.S.

  • Automation increases productivity and improves quality. Smart manufacturing processes that make use of technologies such as robotics, big data, analytics, sensors, and the IoT are faster, safer, more accurate, and more consistent than traditional assembly lines. Robotics provide 24/7 labor, while automated systems perform real-time monitoring of the production process. Irregularities, such as equipment failures or quality glitches, can be immediately addressed. Connected plants use sensors to keep track of inventory and equipment performance, and automatically send orders to suppliers when necessary. All of this combined minimizes downtime, while maximizing output and product quality.
  • Manufacturers will re-invest in innovation and R&D. Cutting-edge technologies. such as robotics, additive manufacturing, and augmented reality (AR) are likely to be widely adopted within a few years. For example, Apple® CEO Tim Cook recently announced the tech giant’s $1 billion investment fund aimed at assisting U.S. companies practicing advanced manufacturing. To remain competitive, manufacturers will have to re-invest a portion of their profits in R&D. An important aspect of innovation will involve determining how to integrate increasingly sophisticated technologies with human functions to create highly effective solutions that support manufacturers’ outcomes.

Technologies such as robotics, additive manufacturing, and augmented reality are likely to be widely adopted soon. To remain competitive, manufacturers will have to re-invest a portion of their profits in R&D.

HOW AUTOMATION WILL AFFECT THE WORKFORCE:

Now, let’s look at the five ways in which automation will affect the workforce.

  • Certain jobs will be eliminated.  By 2025, 3.5 million jobs will be created in manufacturing—yet due to the skills gap, two (2) million will remain unfilled. Certain repetitive jobs, primarily on the assembly line will be eliminated.  This trend is with us right now.  Retraining of employees is imperative.
  • Current jobs will be modified.  In sixty percent (60%) of all occupations, thirty percent (30%) of the tasks can be automated.  For the first time, we hear the word “co-bot”.  Co-bot is robotic assisted manufacturing where an employee works side-by-side with a robotic system.  It’s happening right now.
  • New jobs will be created. There are several ways automation will create new jobs. First, lower operating costs will make U.S. products more affordable, which will result in rising demand. This in turn will increase production volume and create more jobs. Second, while automation can streamline and optimize processes, there are still tasks that haven’t been or can’t be fully automated. Supervision, maintenance, and troubleshooting will all require a human component for the foreseeable future. Third, as more manufacturers adopt new technologies, there’s a growing need to fill new roles such as data scientists and IoT engineers. Fourth, as technology evolves due to practical application, new roles that integrate human skills with technology will be created and quickly become commonplace.
  • There will be a skills gap between eliminated jobs and modified or new roles. Manufacturers should partner with educational institutions that offer vocational training in STEM fields. By offering students on-the-job training, they can foster a skilled and loyal workforce.  Manufacturers need to step up and offer additional job training.  Employees need to step up and accept the training that is being offered.  Survival is dependent upon both.
  • The manufacturing workforce will keep evolving. Manufacturers must invest in talent acquisition and development—both to build expertise in-house and to facilitate continuous innovation.  Ten years ago, would you have heard the words, RFID, Biometrics, Stereolithography, Additive manufacturing?  I don’t think so.  The workforce MUST keep evolving because technology will only improve and become a more-present force on the manufacturing floor.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Advertisements

Portions of this post were taken from Design News Daily publication written by Chris Witz, August 2017.

I generally don’t “do” politics but recent activity relative to the Federal Jobs Initiative program have fallen upon hard times.  President Donald Trump has decided to disband the council of his Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. The announcement came Wednesday morning, after a significant exodus of council membership.  This exodus was in response to the President’s comments regarding a recent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, VA.  By Tweet, the president said:

Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2017

I personally was very surprised by his reaction to several members pulling out of his committee and wonder if there was not more to ending the activities than meets the eye.

The members counseling President Trump were:

Brian Krzanich—CEO Intel

Ken Frazier—CEO Merk & Company

Kevin Plank—CEO UnderArmour

Elon Musk—CEO of SpaceX and Tesla

Bob Iger—CEO of Disney

Travis Kalanick—Former CEO of Uber

Scott Paul—President, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Richard Trumka—President, AFL-CIO

Inge Thulin—CEO 3M

Jamie Dimon—CEO of JPMorganChase

Steven Schwarzman—CEO of Blackstone

Rich Lesser—CEO of Boston Consulting Group

Doug McMillon—CEO of Walmart

Indra Nooyi—CEO and Chairperson of PepsiCo

Ginni Rometty—President and CEO of IBM

Jack Welch—Former CEO of General Electric Company

Toby Cosgrove—CEO of the Cleveland Clinic

Mary Barra—President and CEO of General Motors

Kevin Warsh—Fellow at the Hoover Institute

Paul Atkins– CEO of Patomak Global Partners LLC

Mark Weinberger– Global chairman and CEO, EY

Jim McNerney– Former chairman, president and CEO, Boeing

Adebayo Ogunlesi– Chairman, managing partner, Global Infrastructure Partners

Phillip Howard– Lawyer, Covington; founder of Common Good

Larry Fink—CEO of BlackRock

Matt Rose– Executive chairman, BNSF Railway

Andrew Liveris– Chairman, CEO, The Dow Chemical Company

Bill Brown—CEO, Harris Corporation

Michael Dell—CEO, Dell Technologies

John Ferriola– Chairman, president, CEO, Nucor Corporation

Jeff Fettig– Chairman, former CEO, Whirlpool Corporation

Alex Gorsky– Chairman, CEO, Johnson & Johnson

Greg Hayes– Chairman, CEO, United Technologies Corp

Marillyn Hewson– Chairman, president, CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Jim Kamsickas– President, CEO, Dana Inc

Rich Kyle– President, CEO, The Timken Company

Jeff Immelt– Chairman, former CEO, General Electric

Denise Morrison– President, CEO, Campbell Soup Company

Dennis Muilenburg– Chairman, president, CEO, Boeing

Michael Polk– CEO, Newell Brands

Mark Sutton– Chairman, CEO, International Paper

Wendell Weeks—CEO, Corning

Mark Fields– Former CEO, Ford Motor Company

Mario Longhi– Former CEO, U.S. Steel

Doug Oberhelman– Former CEO, Caterpillar

Klaus Kleinfeld– Former Chairman, CEO, Arconic

I think we can all agree; this group of individuals are “BIG HITTERS”.  People on top of their game.  In looking at the list, I was very surprised at the diversity of products they represent.

As of Wednesday, members departing the committee are as follows:   Kenneth Frazier, CEO of pharmaceutical company Merck; Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank; Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing; Richard Trumka, of the AFL-CIO, along with Thea Lee, the AFL-CIO’s deputy chief of staff; 3M CEO Inge Thulin; and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.

In a blog post , Intel’s Krzanich explained his departure, saying:

“I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing. Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base. … I am not a politician. I am an engineer who has spent most of his career working in factories that manufacture the world’s most advanced devices. Yet, it is clear even to me that nearly every issue is now politicized to the point where significant progress is impossible. Promoting American manufacturing should not be a political issue.”

Under Armour’s Plank, echoed Krzanich’s sentiment, expressing a desire to focus on technological innovation over political entanglements. In a statement released by Under Amour, Plank said,

“We remain resolute in our potential and ability to improve American manufacturing. However, Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics …” In the past year Under Armour has gained attention for applying 3D printing techniques to shoe design and manufacturing.

Paul, of the Alliance of American Manufacturing, tweeted about his departure, saying, “… it’s the right thing to do.”

I’m resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it’s the right thing for me to do.

— Scott Paul (@ScottPaulAAM) August 15, 2017

President Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, first announced back in January, was supposed to be a think tank, bringing together the most prominent business leaders in American manufacturing to tackle the problem of creating job growth in the manufacturing sector. At its inception the council boasted CEOs from companies including Tesla, Ford, Dow Chemical, Dell, Lockheed-Martin, and General Electric among its 28 members. However, over the course of the year the council had been steadily dwindling, with the largest exodus coming this week.

The first major blow to the council’s membership came in June when Tesla CEO Elon Musk resigned from the council in response to President Trump pulling out of the Paris climate accord. Musk, a known environmentalist , tweeted:

Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 1, 2017

At that same conference, when asked why he believed CEOs were leaving the manufacturing council, the President accused members of the council of being at odds with his plans to re-shore more jobs back to the US:

“Because [these CEOs] are not taking their job seriously as it pertains to this country. We want jobs, manufacturing in this country. If you look at some of those people that you’re talking about, they’re outside of the country. … We want products made in the country. Now, I have to tell you, some of the folks that will leave, they are leaving out of embarrassment because they make their products outside and I’ve been lecturing them … about you have to bring it back to this country. You can’t do it necessarily in Ireland and all of these other places. You have to bring this work back to this country. That’s what I want. I want manufacturing to be back into the United States so that American workers can benefit.”

Symbolic or Impactful?

It is unclear whether the dissolution of the manufacturing council will have an impact on Trump’s efforts to grow jobs in the US manufacturing sector. Some analysts have called the council little more than a symbolic gesture that was unlikely to have had any long-term impact on American manufacturing to begin with. Other analysts have credit Trump as a driving factor behind a spike in re-shoring in 2017. However other factors including labor costs and lack of skilled workers overseas are also playing a significant role as more advanced technologies in industries such as automotive and electronics hit the market.

CONCLUSIONS:

I personally regret the dissolution of the committee.  I think, given the proper leadership, they could have been very helpful regarding suggestions as to how to create and/or bring back jobs to our country.  In my opinion, President Trump simply did not have the leadership ability to hold the group together.  His actions over the past few months, beginning with leaving the Paris Climate Accord, simply gave them the excuse to leave the committee.  They simply flaked out.

As always, I welcome your comments.

PAYCHECK 2016

August 28, 2016


The following post is taken from information furnished by Mr. Rob Spiegel of Design News Daily.

We all are interested in how we stack up pay-wise relative to our peers.  Most companies have policies prohibiting discussions about individual pay because every paycheck is somewhat different due to deductible amounts.   The number of dependents, health care options, saving options all play a role in representations of the bottom line—take-home pay.  That’s the reason it is very important to have a representative baseline for average working salaries for professional disciplines.  That is what this post is about.  Just how much should an engineering graduate expect upon graduation in the year 2016?  Let’s take a very quick look.

The average salaries for engineering grads entering the job market range from $62,000 to $64,000 — except for one notable standout. According to the 2016 Salary Survey from The National Association of Colleges and Employers, petroleum engineering majors are expected to enter their field making around $98,000/year. Clearly, petroleum engineering majors are projected to earn the top salaries among engineering graduates this year.

Petroleum Engineers

Actually, I can understand this high salary for Petroleum engineers.  Petroleum is a non-renewable resource with diminishing availability.  Apparently, the “easy” deposits have been discovered—the tough ones, not so much.  The locations for undiscovered petroleum deposits represent some of the most difficult conditions on Earth.  They deserve the pay they get.

Chemical Engineering

Dupont at one time had the slogan, “Better living through chemistry.”  That fact remains true to this day.  Chemical engineers provide value-added products from medical to material.  From the drugs we take to the materials we use, chemistry plays a vital role in kicking the can down the road.

Electrical Engineering

When I was a graduate, back in the dark ages, electrical engineers garnered the highest paying salaries.   Transistors, relays, optical devices were new and gaining acceptance in diverse markets.  Electrical engineers were on the cutting edge of this revolution.  I still remember changing tubes in radios and even TV sets when their useful life was over.  Transistor technology was absolutely earth-shattering and EEs were riding the crest of that technology wave.

Computer Engineering

Computer and software engineering are here to stay because computers have changed our lives in a remarkably dramatic fashion.  We will NEVER go back to performing even the least tedious task with pencil and paper.  We often talk about disruptive technology—game changers.  Computer science is just that

Mechanical Engineering

I am a mechanical engineer and have enjoyed the benefits of ME technology since graduation fifty years ago.  Now, we see a great combination of mechanical and electrical with the advent of mechatronics.  This is a very specialized field providing the best of both worlds.

Software Engineering

Materials Engineering

Material engineering is a fascinating field for a rising freshman and should be considered as a future path.  Composite materials and additive manufacturing have broadened this field in a remarkable fashion.  If I had to do it over again, I would certainly consider materials engineering.

Systems Engineering

Systems engineering involves putting it all together.  A critical task considering “big data”, the cloud, internet exchanges, broadband developments, etc.  Someone has to make sense of it all and that’s the job of the systems engineer.

Hope you enjoyed this one. I look forward to your comments.

2015 ENGINEERING SURVEY

October 21, 2015


The following information was taken from the 2015 Salary Survey conducted by the Machine Design Magazine and The U.S. Science and Engineering Workforce by the Congressional Research Service Recent, Current, and Projected Employment, Wages, and Unemployment.  The text and descriptions are mine.

The engineering field is an ever-changing environ­ment. To better understand the world we live in—and to help you better understand the state of the industry—Machine Design recently published its 2015 Salary Survey. More than 2,000 engineers responded to the annual survey regarding salary, work environment, benefits, and their views on where the field of engineering is going next.  This sample size is statistically significant and gives a snapshot of the engineering profession as it exists in the United States today.  The digital photographs given below, plus text, will aid your efforts in understanding the “state of engineering” in the 2014/2015 years.

Let’s first look at the breakdown of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions.

STEM CATEGORIES

As you can see, the engineering profession represents approximately twenty-five percent (25%) of the STEM categories. Quite frankly, I was very surprised to see the fifty-six percent (56%) number for the computer occupations.  This definitely shows how greatly this profession has grown in the last decade.

According to the ASME survey, 54.3% of the respondents are fifty-five (55) years old or over and predominantly male. Just over three-quarters are college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher. The most common principal job function is design and develop­mental engineering at 61.7%.  A much smaller percentage (11.8%) work in engineering management. The most common job title is design/project/R&D engineer at 24.7%. Others include manufacturing/product engineer and chief/senior/ lead/principal engineer at 6.0% and 12.9%, respectively.  Fifty-five years of age will indicate a looming shortage of engineering talent for our country.  A situation that will see companies relocating to other countries or our “importing” qualified foreign nationals to work as engineers for state-side companies.  Greater numbers are entering the profession but those entry-level positions do not equal or exceed the number retiring.

EDUCATION LEVELS:

HIGHEST LEVEL OF EDUCATION

Also very surprised that the number of MS degrees is just about the same as BS degrees.  This is also an ongoing trend occurring just in the last decade or so.  As technology advances, the need for a higher level of education becomes necessary for some engineering disciplines.

EMPLOYMENT:

YEARS AT PRESENT COMPANY

The chart above also indicates a significant change in demographics.  Generally, engineers stay at one company for a lengthy period of time.  This apparently is no longer the case unless there was a significant influx of new graduates in 2015.  Trust me on this one—this is not the case.  Engineers are moving around to find higher salaries and better working conditions.  The possibility for advancement must not be ignored either.

YEARS IN PROFESSION

I definitely agree with the graphic above.  Generally, engineers enjoy the work they do so they stay in the profession for a lengthily period of time.  This chart reflects that fact.

AVERAGE AGE OF ENGINEER

The chart above indicates approximately thirty-eight percent (38%) of engineering professionals are over the age of sixty and contemplating retirement sometime in the very near future.  Their positions are not being filled quickly enough.  Many engineering jobs remain open seeking candidates with the proper skill sets.

COMPENSATION:

COMPENSATION BREAKDOWN AVERAGE COMPENSATION

The chart above speaks for itself.  Engineering is a rewarding profession not only relative to project work but also compensation.  Engineering positions represent one of the highest paid professions available to an individual and entry level salaries can be quite impressive.

EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK

Due to economic conditions, sixty percent (60%) of the companies indicate hiring will be reduced or remain stagnant.  Our economy and tax structure is forcing more and more companies to locate abroad.  This is extremely detrimental to engineers during job searches.

COMPENSATION BREAKDOWN

As you can see from the above graphic, the computer science field provides the greatest salary level.  This is due to the skill set necessary for the design of hardware.

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AND LOCATION

Once again, the New England and West Coast areas provide the greatest salary levels.  This has been the case for over two decades and will probably not change soon although very high taxes may cause companies to relocate to other states.

JOB SATISFACTION AND OUTSOURCING:

The next three slides speak for themselves and indicate job satisfaction.  By and large, we are a content group of professionals.  There is definitely an indication as to “off-shoring” and the effect that has on job markets in the “states”.

JOB SATISFACTION

MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS

OUTSOURCING

CONTINUING EDUCATION:

Continuing education for the engineering profession has always been a requirement for maintaining a PE license.  There are thirty-six (36) states that require at least twelve (12) hours per year of continuing education.  The next two slides indicate how engineers obtain that education and where they go for it.

CONSTINUING EDUCATION

HOW ARE ENGINEERS KEEPING UP

I certainly hope you have enjoyed this write-up and it will be beneficial to you.  As always, I welcome your comments.

PROFESSIONS AND THE FUTURE

September 7, 2015


Information for this post are taken from Design News Daily Magazine: Article by Mr. Rob Siegel Design News

Previously, in a post entitled “What Not to Do”, I provided three lists of occupations that just might not be too productive relative to employment or continued employment through 2022.  After spending four or more years in a course of study, then not being able to find a job, is at best very frustrating.  With that being the case, I also issued the following statement:

“I would again say—IF YOU HAVE A PASSION FOR A GIVEN PROFESSION, follow that passion, BUT make sure you are one of the best in the world.  Competition is global not just within the confines of our country.   In the post that will follow, I will indicate those STEM professions considered to be “everlasting” and indicate current open positions.  I was greatly surprised at the number of jobs that are waiting on acceptable candidates.”

OK, this is the post that follows.  Let’s take a look at those STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions that will remain viable and in demand through 2022.  These are not in any given order.  I would ask you to look at the text under each category indicating salary levels.  Also, I have listed job openings, at this time; i.e. right now, that exist.

Aerospace Engineering

Of the 1,375 jobs in aerospace, around eighty percent (80%) are mid-level positions. Twenty-five percent (25%) are located in California.

Applied Mathematics

In 2013 there were 3,500 job openings for mathematicians with a projected thirty-five percent (35%) increase expected through 2022.

Chemical Engineering

A good number of the 5,790 jobs are mid-level and yet twenty percent (20%) are at the senior-level.  The good news, there is no particular geographic location where chemical engineers are located.

Computer Engineering

Most of the 9,751 job openings are mid-level or senior-level.  As with Chemical Engineering, the jobs are dispersed evenly across the United States.

Electrical Engineering

There are 28,382 open positions for electrical engineers.  This discipline represents the second largest demand for engineers.  Software engineering is the first.  Approximately twenty-five percent (25%) of the job openings are in California, with half in the San Jose area.  Most are mid-level but there are definitely openings for entry-level graduates.

Computer Science

There are 28,382 open positions for electrical engineers.  This discipline represents the second largest demand for engineers.  Software engineering is the first.  Approximately twenty-five percent (25%) of the job openings are in California, with half in the San Jose area.  Most are mid-level but there are definitely openings for entry-level graduates.

Material Science

There are approximately 1046 job openings for professionals with degrees in Material Science.  Most in mid-level positions but companies are interviewing for entry-level positions.

Nucleur Engineering

In 2012, there were 20,400 NE job openings available in this country alone.  This number has greatly increased due to the need for engineers abroad.  We are beginning to wake up as a country and realize the technology has improved since Three-Mile Island.  We also know there were significant design errors made with Chernobyl and Fukushima.  Errors that will not be duplicated here in this country.

Petroleum Engineering

There are approximately 38,500 job openings for petroleum engineers.  A great profession and one that will not go away within this century.

Physics

This one may be a bit of a surprise but job growth for physics majors is projected to steadily increase at the rate of seven percent (7%) through 2022.  This discipline prepares an individual for employment in several other STEM professions.

                                      BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING

Biomedical Engineering

This is not only a growing profession but a fascinating occupation.  The technology is advancing at an extremely rapid rate and there is no shortage of challenge.

                                    INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING

Industrial Engineering

                                      PROCESS ENGINEERING

Process Engineering

 

                          MANUFACTURING ENGINEERING


Manufacturing Engineering

These 8,234 job openings are located throughout the United States.  No one industry captures a great percentage of the market.

 

                                        QUALITY ENGINEERING

Quality Engineering

 

                                     MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

 

Mechanical Engineering

 

                                    SOFTWARE ENGINEERING

 

Software Engineering

As you can see, software engineers are certainly in demand with 158,323 job openings available right now.  This is the reason for demands that HB-1 visas remain available.  Companies cannot find qualified US citizens to fill these vacancies.

The STEM professions will remain the most viable option for employment for the future.  I would like to indicate to you that YOU CAN DO THIS.  You do not have to be a genius to graduate with a four year degree from an accredited college or university with a major in one of the above professions.  Do NOT be intimidated with the work. IT’S “DOABLE”.

As always, I welcome your comments.

COSTS OF EDUCATION

September 3, 2012


The sources for this blog come from the following  institutions: 1.) College Board, 2.) National Center for Education Statistics, 3.) US News, 4.) The Cafferty  File and 5.)   New York Times.

My wife and I have two older granddaughters attending Georgia State University in Atlanta.  The oldest is pre-law and the second granddaughter is majoring in textiles.   Our son, their father, was discussing with me the incredible costs of sending those girls to school, even with scholarships, grants, loans and generous grandparents.  “How much more could it cost than when you attended Mercer, I ask?”  I was literally blown away.  Books alone were about $600.00 for each—one semester; one semester and undergraduate at that.    I am one of those guys who always purchased new books.  I always said that surviving an engineering course is somewhat like earning a “badge of honor” and in my opinion, keeping your books just may come in handy as reference guides when working a real job.   With that being the case, I took a look at several of the books I used as a student years ago.  Are you ready for this one?

  • Norton Anthology of English Literature–$8.9 5
  • The American Tradition in Literature– $7.25
  •  Introduction to Logic–$5.50
  •  Marketing Management and Planning–$12.50
  • Thermodynamics– $7.95
  • Kinematics and Dynamics- $9.75
  • Design of Machine Elements– $ 10.95

Granted, that was years ago, specifically 1961 through 1966.  OK, I’m an old guy but these are undergraduate publications, the content of which has not changed that much over the years.  Undergraduate work is ground zero and during that time basic foundations are hopefully established from which more detailed and specialized work is accomplished.  The concepts are really not cutting edge at all.

The comparative cost of books necessary for completion of undergraduate education got my attention.  I decided to take a much closer look at how university costs have risen.  I was actually shocked.  Here we go.

You can see from this chart and the summary above, the cost of a university education continues to outpace the rise in median family income by a considerable amount.   Even the cost of medical care has risen less than the cost for obtaining a four-year university or college degree.   By the year 2008, tuition costs represented 25% of a families’ combined income.   At this rate, tuition costs are estimated to rise as represented by the following graph:

Can you imagine the debt after four years of attending a private university?   Granted, a public education is considerably less expensive but still substantial.  Very few families can pay outright the costs of a four year degree; wonderful if possible but somewhat rare indeed.  An estimate of the actual itemized cost is shown with the next chart. 

Even if you are a resident, like my granddaughters, you are “in the bag” for approximately $18,000   plus.  The “other expenses” could vary considerably depending upon spending habits and I feel the “other expenses” above is a very conservative estimate.    (Have you seen the number of shoes my second granddaughter has?)

OK, where does the money come from if you are not a trust fund baby?  Another look!               

As you can see, approximately 50% come from Federal loans—indentured slavery.

Fewer than 12% of private college students pay those schools’ high sticker prices. Fully 88% of all freshmen at private universities received scholarships to reduce their costs, according to a recent survey by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Private college students receive, on average, $15,530 in scholarships and federal tax benefits, reducing their average net cost to $26,700, the College Board found.

Fewer than half of all public university students pay the full sticker price to attend. Federal surveys show at least 52% of all students at public four-year universities receive scholarships or grants. Aid, not counting loans or campus jobs, brought the net tuition paid by the average student at a typical public university to about $2,500, the College Board estimates. That brings the total average net cost of a year on campus (including dorm, books, travel and living expenses) to $11,400.

 The really sad news– according to one study, the median starting salary for students graduating from four-year colleges in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000 a year. That’s 10% lower than what those who entered the workforce from 2006 through 2008 earned. A separate study found only about 45% of college graduates under age 25 are working jobs that requires a college degree. Less than half. That number varies from major to major: Those who majored in education and teaching or engineering are much more likely to find a job requiring a college degree. But while engineering jobs are highly paid, education and teaching jobs have much lower earning potential.

And here’s a sobering thought: Half the 54,000 jobs created in May of 2012 came from McDonald’s.

I studied engineering, specifically mechanical engineering, because I was fascinated with the way things worked.  How they were put together.  What components “made them go” and go properly.  How to improve designs that would allow the products to “go the distance” and perform their function well into a tenth year or even longer.  In my wildest dreams, I did not realize my efforts would allow me to work to the ripe old age of 70.  I unknowingly chose one profession that seems to remain in demand– regardless.  Now, I have made every attempt to keep up with existing technology.  You really can train old dogs to learn new tricks.  If I were giving advice to an entering freshman, I would say consider the engineering profession.  Consider a life in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professions.   These disciplines will not fade as time goes by.  They will not lessen in importance.  They are global in their appeal.  One possible fact does worry me. 

By virtue of university costs, we may be structuring a caste system n which the educated control the uneducated and using this mechanism, advances become problematic if not impossible.  Some educators feel this is happening now with the remarkable elevation in costs…Just a thought.

POSITIONS WANTED

April 22, 2012


Statistics sited in this document were taken from “National Association of Colleges and Employers”, Bethlehem, Pa. Survey of 160 Major Employers across the Country.

Across our country right now are millions of high school seniors anticipating graduation within a few weeks.  Many of those students have been accepted to attend colleges and universities, both near and far, with goals of pursuing their passion and finding that coveted “dream job”.  There are also a great number that really don’t know what they want to do but realize they have about two years to “declare” a major.  Too many times they do what daddy or mommy want them to do without taking a good hard look at what’s selling.  What occupations would I enjoy for a lifetime AND what occupations satisfy need for the basics; i.e. food, shelter, clothing, gas in the car, enough money for a date on Saturday night, etc., if graduate school is not in the picture four or five years down the road.  The statistics below may give the graduating high school senior insights as to where we are in this nation relative to employment and where we might be in the very near future.

AVERAGE NUMBER OF APPLICANTS PER JOB:

  • 2009-2010            40.4
  • 2010-2011            21.1
  • 2011-2012            32.6

Scary right?  As a college or university graduate, you will be competing with many individuals FOR THE SAME JOB.     Also, no longer is your competition “local” only.   People seeking employment have online sources to search for positions AND, they are willing to move in order to get the best job in their specific field.    My town is very fortunate to have VW as an employer.  Over 2500 people work at VW with 800 additional individuals being sought at this time.  I think it is very unfortunate that VW  is having to go “national” in its search for technical people.  We simply do not have candidates that meet their needs.  This is the country we live in right now and I suspect conditions will not get much better.

HIRING PROJECTIONS:

The recessionary period we have just experienced, and some say we are still in, has lead employers to defer hiring, thus creating the average number of job applicant per position as given above.  This hiring “freeze” has abated somewhat but competition is still extremely great.  Let’s take a look at employee hiring vs. year:

                YEAR         YEARLY CHANGE

  • Spring 2007         19.2 %  gain
  • Spring 2008         8%  gain
  • Spring 2009         21.6%  decline
  • Spring 2010         5.3%  gain
  • Spring 2011         19.3% gain
  • Spring 2012         10.2%  gain         

Hiring is definitely on the rebound and the greatest gains are within very specific fields of endeavor.  Let’s take a look at spring 2012 to see what professions are in demand.  Please keep in mind that 160 companies were interviewed to find out what disciplines represented the greatest need.

PROFESSON    % of EMPLOYER RESPONDENTS HIRING               

ENGINNEERING               69

BUSINESS                     63

ACCOUNTING               53

COMPUTER SCIENCES    49

ECONOMICS                22

PHYSICAL SCIENCES      19

COMMUNICATIONS        16

SOCIAL SCIENCES         16

HUMANITIES               13

The 160 companies interviewed also indicated they prefer prospective employees to have work experience within their specific field of study.  Co-ops, interns, volunteer efforts may just give you the edge when competition is the greatest.  It certainly won’t hurt.  Also, having a great and credible reference (or references) is a definite benefit.  

I will now like to give you my “short list” of desirable attributes relative to securing a position in the highly competitive job market.  This list is really intended for that entering university freshman and possibly gives them something to think about along the way.  You eventually WILL graduate.  You WILL eventually seek gainful employment.  Let’s take a look:

  • You MUST know how to draft a well written document, put words together to make a sentence, paragraph or page that makes sense and is readable.  Good punctuation, good “wordsmithing”, logical sentence structure and basic flow of ideas will get you a long way.  You would not believe what I have seen from university graduates.  Some simply don’t know how to write (which consequently makes me believe they don’t know how to think!).
  • The need to be bi-lingual or even multi-lingual is extremely desirable in today’s culture.  Learn Spanish or French or German or Italian.   Oh by the way, we have English and we have Southern—I’m from Tennessee, and I know the difference.   Know how to speak English- the King’s English -but know at least one other language. 
  • If you are a person of color you may have to “act white” when dealing with customers, peers, managers and teachers.  Don’t “axe” them a question, don’t use “ghetto” language and think you will get ahead any time soon.  It just does not work that way.  You will eventually be working in a professional atmosphere so be professional.  Employers won’t say anything but you will be evaluated based upon how you speak and how you answer questions.   I have told our three children that their first manager may just be an old guy like me, so behave. 
  • Read continuously from the moment you enter college and continue that action throughout your professional career.  Don’t ever think that watching hours of TV will do anything but waste your precious time.  Stay abreast of developments within your profession and discuss those developments with your peers and your manager.  Cultivate the habit of reading about subjects outside your chosen field.  Some day and in some way, that information will come back to benefit efforts within your profession.  Never fails!  Managers needing employees know those individuals who are well-read and articulate subject matter in a concise manner. 
  • Network—ALWAYS, prior to the interview and after the interview.
  • Dress in a manner that is appropriate for the interview and the job.  DON’T WEAR YOUR LUCKY BALL CAP TO THE INTERVIEW!  Pull up your pants.  Leave your mini-skirt at home.  The interviewer is looking for a worker, not a date.  Don’t even think about smoking or “dipping” during an interview or on the job.  (You would not believe what I’ve seen over the past few years.  What are these kids thinking? I even interviewed a guy who was smoking “weed” during the very short interview. )
  • Know the company you are interviewing.  Do your homework before you sit down with the HR guy.  What do they do?  Where are they located?  How many employees?  Where are their offices?  National or international?  You get the picture. You must know this information before you go in.
  • Don’t go into the interview unless you are sober. (Please see previous discussion.  Again, what are these kids thinking? )
  • YOUR COURSEWORK MUST REFLECT YOUR ABILITIES FOR THE POSITION YOU ARE INTERVIEWING .  You won’t be able to “wing-it here”.   Enough said.

Good luck!   I have worked with some of the very finest young people on the planet in my years as a mechanical engineer.  They are smart with great work ethic and really resourceful.  (I love the resourceful.)  Trust me on this one, you can do extremely well during the interview and on the job with the proper attitude and a willingness to listen, apply your considerable talents, and work.  Always remember—If you want to leave you’re footprints on the sands of time, you must wear work shoes.  Been there, done that, got the “T” shirt.

 

%d bloggers like this: