New Job (by dmd.hashw)
In case you were wondering, this is why I haven’t been posting much the last few weeks.
Although it was inevitable, Monday’s announcement that the St. Paul Ford Motor Plant will close for good Dec. 19 brought a strong dose of finality to plant employees, city officials and neighbors in Highland Park who’ve spent the past five years trying to keep the plant alive, or at least delay its closing.
"Even though we’ve known it was coming, finally getting that date makes it real," said Merritt Clapp-Smith, a senior planner at the city of St. Paul. "It’s an emotional piece of news."
In addition to the work done to try to persuade Ford to keep the plant up and running, officials kept busy on Plan B and have invested tons of time preparing for the closing and ultimate reuse of the site.
The next step in the Ford Plant saga comes next month when Ford officials will hold a public meeting to outline the end game. They’ll talk about equipment removal and demolition of the buildings as the begin the long process to sell the 125-acre site.
The meeting, billed as “Next Steps After Ford Plant Closure,” is Nov. 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the UAW-Ford-MnSCU Training Center Auditorium, at Ford Parkway and Mount Curve Blvd. in St. Paul.
Ford officials will discuss logistics of the shutdown and site clean up, said Janelle Tummel of the city’s Planning and Economic Development Department.
"The meeting is open to everyone and is geared toward the community, letting people know what to expect next, with specifics on timing," she said. "People will want to know about the noise level during demolition, how loud and dusty it’s going to be, and how these things will affect the community."
I believe we need a national PR Campaign for Skilled Labor. A big one. Something that addresses the widening skills gap head on, and reconnects the country with the most important part of our workforce.
Right now, American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions. There are 450,000 openings in trades, transportation and utilities. The skills gap is real, and it’s getting wider. In Alabama, a third of all skilled tradesmen are over 55. They’re retiring fast, and no one is there to replace them.
Alabama’s not alone. A few months ago in Atlanta I ran into Tom Vilsack, our Secretary of Agriculture. Tom told me about a governor who was unable to move forward on the construction of a power plant. The reason was telling. It wasn’t a lack of funds. It wasn’t a lack of support. It was a lack of qualified welders.
In general, we’re surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn’t be. We’ve pretty much guaranteed it.
In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We’ve elevated the importance of “higher education” to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled “alternative.” Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as “vocational consolation prizes,” best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of “shovel ready” jobs for a society that doesn’t encourage people to pick up a shovel.
In a hundred different ways, we have slowly marginalized an entire category of critical professions, reshaping our expectations of a “good job” into something that no longer looks like work. A few years from now, an hour with a good plumber, if you can find one, is going to cost more than an hour with a good psychiatrist. At which point we’ll all be in need of both.
I came here today because guys like my grandfather are no less important to civilized life than they were 50 years ago. Maybe they’re in short supply because we don’t acknowledge them they way we used to. We leave our check on the kitchen counter, and hope the work gets done. That needs to change.
One of the better (and disheartening) things I have read this week. It is okay to get a little dirty now and then. You’ll be a better person because of it.
People say America doesn’t make anything anymore, but that’s not true. With the exception of a few short lapses, manufacturing output has been on the rise since the 1980s. What is true is that industrial robots have been carrying ever more of the manufacturing burden on their steely shoulders since they appeared in the 1950s. Today, a Japanese company called Fanuc, Ltd., has industrial robots making other industrial robots in a “lights out” factory. (That’s the somewhat unsettling term for a fully automated production facility where you don’t need lights because you don’t need humans.) That’s where we’re headed.
It’s not just manufacturing, either. Automated call centers are replacing customer-service agents. Automated checkout stations are replacing grocery-store clerks. When the science of computer vision advances sufficiently, we’ll have algorithms, not humans, evaluating X-rays at airport security checkpoints and screening user-generated content for sites like Facebook.
Meanwhile, personal robotics, the kind we’ve been promised by science fiction, are getting closer to reality. Researchers at a Silicon Valley–based company called Willow Garage have been teaching their PR2 robot to fold laundry, play pool, and fetch beers for its engineers (you can see it in action on YouTube). The PR2 isn’t ready for the commercial market, but it’s closer than you think. Willow Garage has made the code for the PR2’s operating system entirely open, which means scientists and hobbyists all over the world can contribute to its development, and it recently started selling PR2 models for $400,000 each.
Keenan Wyrobek, a codirector of the Personal Robotics Program at Willow Garage, told me that the company’s robots might soon be able to help our aging population stay independent for a few extra years by doing simple tasks around the house. That would be great, but it would reduce the number of nurses and assisted-living attendants we would otherwise need.
Economists will remind you that new technologies create new jobs as they destroy old ones. That’s true. When you have robots, you need robotics engineers. But those aren’t going to be mid-range jobs.
On the low end of the spectrum, we have physical jobs that we can’t automate yet (yard work, for example). On the high end of the spectrum, we have creative and cognitive jobs that we can’t automate yet (law and management, for example). But as technology advances, and it certainly will, more people are going to be elbowed out of the workforce.
We may be heading toward a future with plentiful high-end jobs and plentiful low-end jobs, and not much in the middle. What if only doctors, lawyers, engineers, and managers can live a decent life, buy a house or apartment, and pay for their children to get specialized degrees? What if a liberal-arts degree on its own prepares you for little more than work as a security guard? What if the skills that prepare one for a job with decent pay get increasingly hard to attain?
Addressing this challenge requires a response more profound than tweaking the tax code or extending unemployment benefits. But it also provides us with an exciting opportunity.
If this polarization continues, a whole cohort of people who expected to be middle class—or at least financially stable—might find themselves living a very different reality. Then they might start asking questions about why they are in that position. If it gets increasingly hard to pretend that the average liberal-arts degree prepares a student for a decent job, there may be broader support for a sober assessment of our education system, and the reforms it needs. If the skills and talents that are truly financially rewarding become harder and harder to acquire, people who would never consider themselves students of Marx might start questioning whether, given the circumstances, it still makes sense to pay people based solely on the demand for their skills in a marketplace that would be demanding very few skills.
If market forces and increased automation leave the average person without any prospects for a decent job, we may have the chance—or perhaps even the moral obligation—to recast the opportunity to do meaningful work not merely as a privilege, but as something everyone deserves.
A New York Times article last week highlighted a route that many unemployed Americans are taking to try to re-enter the labor market: Job training. The piece profiled several individuals who had completed training but failed to secure employment, and concluded that federal investments in retraining often don’t produce results. It’s a conclusion that’s out of touch with the realities of many Minnesota employers.
Even now, employers just like my metal stamping company are ready to hire but unable to find workers with the right sets of skills. A national study this year by Deloitte, The Manufacturing Institute and Oracle found that 51 percent of companies report a shortage of skilled production workers.
Prior to the recession, Minnesota was experiencing a skills shortage that will resurface as the economy picks up, particularly our middle-skill jobs that require training beyond high school but not a four-year degree. In 2007, about 49 percent of Minnesota’s jobs were in middle-skill occupations, from licensed practical nurses and radiological technicians, to claims adjusters and paralegals, to auto repair diagnosticians and green heating and cooling system installers.
For many manufacturers, the mismatch continues between the kind of skilled workers that are needed and the ranks of the unemployed. We want to hire people who can operate sophisticated computerized machinery, follow complex blueprints and demonstrate higher math proficiency than was previously required of our typical technicians. Public investment in targeted job training today will be less expensive than continuing to extend unemployment benefits or paying higher social-welfare costs longer term for lower-skilled workers or others whose jobs will be gone or changed after the recession.
Job training alone can’t solve joblessness, but it has to be part of the solution, particularly to help ensure that we have the skilled workforce that we need after the recession. For example, public investments in job training will upgrade the skills of environmental remediation technicians who will then reclaim shuttered auto plants; the carpenters and welders who will rebuild those shells into new energy-efficient factories; and the machinists and technicians working for companies like mine who will use new, computer-controlled machinery to create products for export.
Diamond Offshore announced Friday that its Ocean Endeavor drilling rig will leave the Gulf of Mexico and move to Egyptian waters immediately — making it the first to abandon the United States in the wake of the BP oil spill and a ban on deep-water drilling.
And the Ocean Endeavor’s exodus probably won’t be the last, according to oil industry officials and Gulf Coast leaders who warn that other companies eager to find work for the now-idled rigs are considering moving them outside the U.S.
Devon Energy Corp. had been leasing the Endeavor to drill in the same region of the Gulf as BP’s leaking Macondo well, which has been gushing crude since a lethal blowout April 20.
But Diamond announced Friday it will lease the rig through June 30, 2011, to Cairo-based Burullus Gas Co., which plans to send the Endeavor to Egyptian waters immediately.
The exodus has begun. I hope Obama & co. enjoy the loss of a 150 billion dollar a year industry, which is 150 times larger than the fishing industry that we hear about in the news everyday, and the thousands upon thousands of oil and gas jobs that the gulf region relies on.
I haven’t had much luck with finding employment over the last couple months. I did recently pick up a workstudy at my school and I am grateful for that, but I was really hoping to find something more relevant to what I’m studying and/or pays more.
I was hoping to get some feedback on my resume (or just employment tips) from some of you since I know a lot of my followers are fellow engineering majors / already in the field. Shoot me an email or leave a comment with your input. If you hit the resume link on the left, you can links to a .pdf copy and my linkedin account.
Taking inspiration from my girlfriend’s tumblr, @JackieSiewert, I’ve decided to write about my job seeking efforts as well. Who knows, maybe someone from one of the companies I’ve applied to will find this and decide to hire me (or decide not to, oops).
Anyway, so far I have applied to:
Wolkerstorfer - Chemical Technician - link
Minneapolis DID - Downtown Ambassador - link (I know it’s not related to what I’m studying, but it seems like fun)
Need to apply to:
3M’s plethora of Technical Aide positions (again)
ATK - Intern | MSG Advanced Weapons - link (they have a few other internships I’ll probably apply to as well)
SolidWorks Drafter - link (not sure if I have all of the skills that they are looking for, but I might as well give it a shot, right?)
Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.
1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.
3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.
4. Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.
5. And if the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many machines most efficient for offense and defense; and vessels which will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.
6. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made without noise, to reach a designated spot, even if it were needed to pass under a trench or a river.
7. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable, which, entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.
8. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars, and light ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.
9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.
10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.
11. I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may.
Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the immortal glory and eternal honor of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.
And if any of the above-named things seem to anyone to be impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency - to whom I comment myself with the utmost humility, etc.