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Field of Jobs Dreams

August 29, 2011

Apparently part of Obama’s post Labor Day speech is to include a bit about increasing “college graduates in engineering and [giving] companies incentives to hire them.” The comments on the post are not worth reading at all. Completely political they are disparaging anything under Obama’s name (despite the fact that it doesn’t sound like he’s planning to require additional funding) and some of the comments are borderline racist and show you why I stopped reading Wall St Journal blogs.

As much fun as it is to blame one political side, both sides (or all three sides, or all one side, depending on your perspective) have been saying much the same thing. That we need to graduate more engineers or more STEM graduates. This whole bit about incentives for companies to hire them? That’s where the quackery comes in. I’m not really sure how they plan to accomplish that. There are plenty of ways of inducing US companies to hire more people etc or import fewer people on visas in certain categories, but no one ever seems to be interested in any of those options. They seem to think that our “lack” of engineers (which I honestly don’t believe there is any, maybe code monkeys) is because kids just aren’t choosing that in college. If they knew their sports movies analogies, they’d know that if you build it they will come. If there really ever is a shortage of engineers, pay will dramatically increase, it will be seen as the money train and path to a guaranteed job, and people will flood into it. Just like all those people who went into nursing because they heard there were a ton of jobs and then had trouble finding jobs when all the older nurses who were supposed to retire never did thanks in part to economic uncertainty. I’m not saying nursing or engineering isn’t maybe more stable than many other careers, just that it’s not the golden goose. If we want jobs we have to understand the goose is our economy and private companies. And until they demand these jobs, and demand them from citizens, they aren’t going to be our economic hail mary.

But if all of that is really bumming you out, here’s some good news internationally. Apparently Germany is worried about a shortage of engineers. The VDI German engineering association is stating a shortfall of 77,000 last month. I’m curious how they arrived at that number, and whether they believe that’s really a shortfall. If you punch “engineer” in career builder you’ll find 50,000 jobs in the US. I wouldn’t say that’s a 50k shortfall since I know plenty of engineers who can’t get jobs right now. Just because companies say they can’t find engineers doesn’t mean they can’t actually find engineers. We know companies have been making up problems of finding “qualified” workers lately when it’s really just a smoke screen as they offshore all our jobs and wipe out the US consumer class that actually buys their things. I also might take that article more seriously if the German engineering college student they highlighted didn’t have a name of Jan Assman (I am not making this up, and totally did not laugh and/or spew coffee everywhere because I am a mature individual).

So if any German engineering companies are looking to hire, I’m willing to relocate. Put your euros where your mouth is.

(Field from Peter Nijenhuis, and that’s the singular Peter Stormare from the now old but always hilarious unpimp the auto VW ad compaign from a few years back)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2011 7:50 am

    Maybe it’s because companies are defining “qualified” as someone who already knows everything about the highly specialized system that only they use? An astonishing number of job postings in engineering say things like “Entry Level: 5 years of experience required”. I know far too many engineering graduates working service jobs because they couldn’t find a job, or even get an interview. Mr. ME is happily employed now, but many companies wouldn’t even consider him until he was already employed by someone else…

    Basically, I agree that the engineer shortage is a fallacy.


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