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October 25, 2009 – Comments (5)

Mish's post with a perspective on the job market from a newly graduated PhD scientist really hit home for me.

One of my job hunting experiences when I first obtained by B.Sc. was the qualifying for a job interview process.  I have no idea how many applicants were received, but 24 were choosen to write a 3 hour exam for what was a routine technician job.  It was a job I was over qualified for with a degree and one they had filled the previous two years with university undergraduates.

Well, out of the 24 given the opportunity to write a test 12 had B.Sc., and the other 12 had master and PhD degrees.  Overall, I placed 12th in the exam, not qualifying for one of the 7 interviews. The test was entirely theoretical and truly had no bearing what-so-ever on the job. Seriously, the job was do 100 of the same test day in and day out and who cares what the reaction mechanism might be.  It is like being tested on the chemical reactions in a car engine to try and qualify for a driver's license.  I had a friend who did the job, and when I applied she thought I was nuts as it was so routine.

What the hiring process led to was a PhD graduate ended up being hired for a job that only required a two year technician program to qualify for the job.  It was a government job, and what do you think having grossly over qualified people do to a wage scale? 

I have said so many times that Vancouver truly was a micro economy of what's to come in the bigger economy and I think the parallels that I constantly see are staggering.

And, it is utter nonsense that we don't have enough qualified or educated people.  We are in an economy where those higher wages the higher educated used to demand are declining because of supply and demand.  There is enormous supply and little demand.

On another topic, I also had a very interesting discussion about the rates of pay in the forest industry.  When I was young I had family working in the forest industry and from my perspective, they had a very nice lifestyle, nice cars, vacations, entertainment money, etc.  This friend from the east coast was working in the forestry industry at the same time.  He was barely able to support his family and there was never anything left over.  My uncles used to get tons of overtime, yet on the east coast unemployment was so high, industry just hired more workers and refused any overtime.  I don't know how the actual dollars per hour compared, but I do know that my uncles used to get tons of overtime and a wage that I thought was awesome.

Going to a job seems key in this economy and going where unemployment rate is lower...

5 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On October 25, 2009 at 2:03 AM, djkumquat (46.61) wrote:

bingo

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#2) On October 25, 2009 at 2:21 AM, dwot (61.86) wrote:

Mish's comments on the cost of education are also extremely appropriate.  It is absurd that you have $6k for tuition and lecture halls with hundreds of students. 

It isn't up 30 times since I first went in 1980, but it is up about 12-fold.  I teach ratios using the increased cost of tuition and the wage I made when I first went.  I think they need to find a job that pays about $80 per hour to keep up with what may wage was relative to tuition. Report this comment
#3) On October 25, 2009 at 3:39 AM, JibJabs (91.54) wrote:

"Going to a job seems key in this economy and going where unemployment rate is lower..."

I just graduated with a history major from a very good liberal arts school. I went to China to get a job - no regrets. Demand over here is huge for native American english speakers with a college degree (unfortunately for many, it also helps a great deal if you are young and white - that matters to them so much that they ask you to send a photograph of yourself during the application process). 

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#4) On October 25, 2009 at 11:24 AM, abitare (39.81) wrote:

dwot,

Check this guy out:

http://www.khanacademy.org/

Education for free!

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#5) On October 26, 2009 at 6:38 PM, edbbear (< 20) wrote:

In my opinion education is terribly over priced and for many not worth the investment.  I can specifically say that as a lawyer in the United States a law degree is a poor investment for most people.  There are too many of us, and since I graduated 5 years ago the cost of tuition has doubled at my law school and I can absolutely say I would not be willing to pay today's prices.  But even when I graduated there was a huge subset of my graduating class that was well in excess of $100 grand in debt.  The most recent grads starting at my office all have $150 grand in debt and are either deferring their loans or living paycheck to paycheck or both. 

I think the problem is two-fold.  First, conventional wisdom says that an education is well worth the investment.  And for the last 70 years that was absolutely the case.  But at the present time, with the quantity of people attending school, and at the price schools are charging, that wisdom must be questioned. 

This is unscientific, but I remember talking to my grandmother and mother about things when my mother was born and grew up.  And at that time there were high paying jobs available to people right out of high school.  Many people chose not to go to school but rather to work to work in the steel mills in Chicago.  They started families right away.  Because of these attractive options, there were less people going to school and less competition for jobs when people got out of school.  But obviously that has changed--with fewer options coming out of high school, more people are flocking towards a higher education.   

Second, the reason there is so much demand for schooling was the availability of student loans.  More people are willing to pay $150 grand to go to law school when someone is willing to lend them $150 grand to do so.  The loose lending practices that have brought down housing are going to bring down education lenders as well.   

I did a quick fact check to see if I was 100% talking out of my ass or just 50%.  According to the net, .929 million bachelor's degrees were earned in 1980, compared to 1.43 in 2005. 

 http://askville.amazon.com/people-average-graduate-college-year/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=13752993

An interesting article on whether too many people are going to college:

http://www.american.com/archive/2008/september-october-magazine/are-too-many-people-going-to-college

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