Thursday, August 12, 2010

Creative Job Search

Patrick took a two-day class on "Creative Job Search" at the state Workforce Center. He had a conversation with the instructor at the lunch break today. She told him she likes her job, but it really bothers her to know that 25% of the people in her classes will never work again. "They've created an underclass, and they expect us to fix it."

She said the hardest part was the young kids who've lost their jobs at McDonalds, and aren't going to work again. "In five years there won't be entry level jobs. They'll have shipped them all overseas."

(Some of the service jobs will remain, though I don't know how many. Eating out is discretionary. So is most shopping. How many people will be able to eat out or shop for entertainment?)

Pat told the instructor he felt incredibly lucky that he'll be able to retire soon. If he was 40 with his skills, he'd be terrified.

One of the guys Patrick was partnered with lost his job at a factory where he'd been working for decades. He is utterly unprepared for this job market.

The other guy is planning to hang on for two years until he can collect his military pension. Like Pat, he is lucky. He can retire soon.


Blogger delagar said...

This is how I feel at my job -- I teach at a working class university in Arkansas. Many of my students are being sent to school under the TAA program, which more or less forces them to get two-year degrees: radiology degrees, med tech degrees, CADD degrees. These are former line workers from the factories that shut down in this town over the past ten-twelve years (out-sourced). They were making, in general, well over $15/hour at these jobs -- some much more than that. (They're usually in their fifties; some are older than that.)

The jobs they will get with the 2-year-degrees (if they can get jobs at all, and some will *not* get jobs) will, in this area, pay just over minimum wage -- six to seven dollars an hour. I know this because I have had students come back after getting the jobs to tell me so. They are stunned and astonished. "Why did I need a degree for this?" they demand. "I could have gotten a job that paid this right out of the factory."

Sometimes I tell them to think about leaving Arkansas, that maybe the pay is better elsewhere; but OTOH, I'm not sure this is the best advice. The pay might be better, but what about the cost of living?

Anyway, they won't leave. Their families are here, their friends are here, and no one, I am coming to learn, ever leaves Arkansas.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

This is a terrific comment. I get so angry that people are told to go to school, as if the problem was their lack of training, rather than a lack of decent jobs. 81% of the jobs created in 2010 have been low-paying service jobs. This is per AP. (Patrick just read this today.) And there are not enough of these lousy jobs, let alone the jobs we need, rebuilding the country. I keep meeting engineers out of work. What kind of country doesn't have work for engineers?

1:00 PM  
Blogger delagar said...

And these are great students too, most of them. They are tough and smart and work hard. For what? So they can graduate to no work?

It's not as though the country doesn't need work. The infrastructure is collapsing; the parks (at least the ones around here) are in shambles; classrooms at my kid's school have upwards of 30 students each. Why not another WPA?

8:39 AM  

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