Posts tagged ‘jobs and careers’

July 22, 2014

Ten career paths you may want to avoid

by Grace

A new study released Tuesday by job-search site CareerCast.com, lists the 10 top endangered jobs in the U.S. Using data on 200 jobs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerCast projected the least promising career paths in terms of future employment growth, income potential and existing unemployment in the job field.

  1. Mail carrier
  2. Farmer
  3. Meter reader
  4. Newspaper reporter
  5. Travel agent
  6. Lumberjack
  7. Flight Attendant
  8. Drill-Press Operator
  9. Printing Worker
  10. Tax Examiner and Collector

“The common theme in these jobs is paper,” says Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.

There is simply less demand for the type of work represented by these jobs, in most cases due to technological advances.

Since I have recently been spending many frustrating hours planning my summer vacation, I wish travel agents would make a comeback.  Apparently there is a trend toward a fee-for-service model among travel agents, particularly in the FIT (Flexible Independent Travel) market.  Maybe next time I’m planning a family vacation I’ll seek out a travel agent to make my life easier.

I’m particularly concerned to see that newspaper reporter jobs made this list since I have a son who is an aspiring journalist.  Perhaps the growing proliferation of online news sources will boost job growth in that area.  That may be optimistic thinking, but you can’t blame a mom for hoping.

———

Kathleen Madigan, The 10 Most Endangered Jobs (Or, Why You Are Reading This Online), Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2014.

June 19, 2014

Quick ways to get training for a ‘livable wage’ job

by Grace

What are some relatively short (2-6 months) courses i can take to become certified in something that provides a livable wage?

A Reddit poster asked this question, and here are the top responses as of June 17.

  1. Welding.
  2. Hairstylist / Massage therapy, nail tech, aesthetician. / Culinary degree.
  3. CPR instructor
  4. forklift operator
  5. GCODE, etc
  6. TEFL certificate
  7. Phlebotomy
  8. deal table games like blackjack and roulette
  9. driving semi trucks
  10. HVAC-R

Not all these suggestions may sound appealing, but some of them do seem worthy of further exploration.  In looking at comments on the TEFL certificate idea, it appears that a college degree is almost always a prerequisite.

Related to suggestion #5 is the newly announced NanoDegree.

A Smart Way to Skip College in Pursuit of a Job

Udacity-AT&T ‘NanoDegree’ Offers an Entry-Level Approach to College

This week, AT&T and Udacity, the online education company founded by the Stanford professor and former Google engineering whiz Sebastian Thrun, announced something meant to be very small: the “NanoDegree.”

At first blush, it doesn’t appear like much. For $200 a month, it is intended to teach anyone with a mastery of high school math the kind of basic programming skills needed to qualify for an entry-level position at AT&T as a data analyst, iOS applications designer or the like.

This is another quick way to qualify for a “livable wage”.

… offering a narrow set of skills that can be clearly applied to a job, providing learners with a bite-size chunk of knowledge and an immediate motivation to acquire it.

It may not offer all the advantages of a liberal arts education, but it could offer a plausible path to young men and women who may not have the time, money or skill to make it through a four-year or even a two-year degree.

AT&T will accept the NanoDegree as a credential for entry-level jobs (and is hoping to persuade other companies to accept it, too) and has reserved 100 internship slots for its graduates. Udacity is also creating NanoDegrees with other companies.

The hardest part is finding the motivation and persistence to follow through.  All these options require a motivated person willing to put in the hours needed to obtain the skills and certification.  The short time span is an advantage here, certainly compared to the four-plus years needed for a bachelor’s degree.

Another challenge is to avoid taking on crippling student loan debt, so students must be careful about choosing schools that offer a good value.

Related:  “Should we go back to more vocational high school options?” (Cost of College)

———

Eduardo Porter, “A Smart Way to Skip College in Pursuit of a Job”, New York Times, June  17, 2014.

June 3, 2014

What will happen when computers can handle most white-collar jobs?

by Grace

Computers may soon be able to do white-collar jobs meant for college graduates.

Noriko Arai of the Todai Robot Project explains how the future is shaping up.

… a machine should be capable, with appropriate programming, of doing many — perhaps most — jobs now done by university graduates.

With the development of artificial intelligence, computers are starting to crack human skills like information summarization and language processing….

How would college graduates be affected by this technological evolution?

There is a significant danger, Ms. Arai says, that the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence, if not well managed, could lead to a radical restructuring of economic activity and the job market, outpacing the ability of social and education systems to adjust.

Intelligent machines could be used to replace expensive human resources, potentially undermining the economic value of much vocational education, Ms. Arai said.

“Educational investment will not be attractive to those without unique skills,” she said. Graduates, she noted, need to earn a return on their investment in training: “But instead they will lose jobs, replaced by information simulation. They will stay uneducated.”

In such a scenario, high-salary jobs would remain for those equipped with problem-solving skills, she predicted. But many common tasks now done by college graduates might vanish.

Mostly good or mostly bad?

…  A recent study published by the Program on the Impacts of Future Technology, at Oxford University’s Oxford Martin School, predicted that nearly half of all jobs in the United States could be replaced by computers over the next two decades.

Some researchers disagree. Kazumasa Oguro, professor of economics at Hosei University in Tokyo, argues that smart machines should increase employment. “Most economists believe in the principle of comparative advantage,” he said. “Smart machines would help create 20 percent new white-collar jobs because they expand the economy. That’s comparative advantage.”

Others are less sanguine. Noriyuki Yanagawa, professor of economics at Tokyo University, says that Japan, with its large service sector, is particularly vulnerable.

“A.I. will change the labor demand drastically and quickly,” he said. “For many workers, adjusting to the drastic change will be extremely difficult.”

Smart machines will give companies “the opportunity to automate many tasks, redesign jobs, and do things never before possible even with the best human work forces,” according to a report this year by the business consulting firm McKinsey.

Many business leaders dismiss a takeover by machines as “futurist fantasy”.

… Gartner’s 2013 chief executive survey, published in April, found that 60 percent of executives surveyed dismissed as “‘futurist fantasy” the possibility that smart machines could displace many white-collar employees within 15 years.

“Most business and thought leaders underestimate the potential of smart machines to take over millions of middle-class jobs in the coming decades,” Kenneth Brant, research director at Gartner, told a conference in October: “Job destruction will happen at a faster pace, with machine-driven job elimination overwhelming the market’s ability to create valuable new ones.”

Will these changes create a future of leisure and “self-realization”?

Optimists say this could lead to the ultimate elimination of work — an “Athens without the slaves” — and a possible boom for less vocational-style education. Mr. Brant’s hope is that such disruption might lead to a system where individuals are paid a citizen stipend and be free for education and self-realization.

“This optimistic scenario I call Homo Ludens, or ‘Man, the Player,’ because maybe we will not be the smartest thing on the planet after all,” he said. “Maybe our destiny is to create the smartest thing on the planet and use it to follow a course of self-actualization.”

It sounds too good to be true.  Although the concept of a future as an “Athens without the slaves” has its appeal, it sounds too fantastic to believe.  I wonder what will happen to the segment of the population that lacks the highest level of problem-solving skills.

———

Michael Fitzpatrick, “Computers Jump to the Head of the Class”, New York Times, December 29, 2013.

January 14, 2014

Best growth outlook is for low-paying jobs

by Grace

The outlook for jobs does not hold up much hope for some college graduates.

Elder care and other low-wage jobs will be among the fastest growing career fields over the next decade. Postal carriers and journalists might have a harder time finding work.

The fastest growing job for the next decade requires no formal education and pays an average annual income of $19,940.

Personal-care aide will be the fastest growing job from 2012 to 2022, among categories with more than 25,000 positions, the Labor Department said in a new report. The field will grow by nearly 50% to 1.8 million jobs.

The gloomy prospect for postal workers and reporters is directly tied to technology advances.  Email has replaced most paper letters, and the rise of robo-reporters has cut into the need for human writers.

Postal and media sectors are likely to shed jobs in the next decade.

Employment among U.S. Postal Service workers is expected to decline 28%.Reporter and correspondent jobs will contract nearly 14%.

Here’s a look at journalism jobs pulled from the Wall Street Journal “sortable table of the career fields that will grow and shrink in the next decade”

20140112.COCJournalismJobs1

Since my college kid is seeking a job in journalism, I had a brief panicked moment before I realized the job levels are reported in thousands!  Maybe I can find slight comfort in looking at jobs with even fewer projected job openings, such as film editors, high school history teachers, and chemical engineers.  However, in terms of expected percent changes for jobs requiring a college degree, journalists rank right at the bottom of the list.

December 27, 2013

Investment bankers will be allowed to take it easy one weekend every month

by Grace

Investment bankers will be getting more time off, according to an email newsletter from eFinancialCareers.

Jeff Urwin, global head of investment banking at J.P. Morgan, has confirmed reports that the bank will indeed introduce “protected weekends,” where analysts and associates are barred from even entering the office during one weekend every month.

Wow, one whole weekend free from work.  How rare is that for anyone nowadays?  But wait, you don’t need to be in the office to work.  You can sneak in a little deal-making by working remotely.  I’m sure some of the more competitive bankers will continue to be productive every weekend even if they’re banned from the office.

20131220.COCBankerRelaxing1

More hiring will be needed.

But that’s not all. Urwin also reportedly told employees that J.P. Morgan will hire roughly 10% more junior investment bankers in 2014, likely due, at least in part, to the need to fill in the gaps created by the protected weekends. No matter what the cause, J.P. will extend more employment offers in the coming year.

A good sign for job growth?

Both of JPM’s moves fall in line with those made by Goldman Sachs, which also announced it would be dialing back the workload thrust upon its junior workers and will hire more in 2014.

Whether they want to or not, other banks will surely need to follow suit. Goldman and J.P. Morgan didn’t make these decisions out of the kindness of their heart. They did it because the pay at the junior level isn’t what it used to be and talented people are getting burned out and leaving the profession early. Or worse, they are heading to Silicon Valley before ever step foot in the building.

Related:

December 23, 2013

The jobs gap between college and high school graduates continues to grow

by Grace

College graduates continue to fare the best in this feeble economic recovery.

College graduates claimed the bulk of last month’s job gains, while high-school grads with no college lost jobs, highlighting a persistent divide in the recovery.

While both groups have seen improvements in unemployment rates, 3.4% for college grads and 7.3% for high school grads with no college, there is general agreement that progress has been slow.

Underemployment is a problem.

… Of course, though college grads are getting the lion’s share of the jobs, it doesn’t mean those are good jobs. Overall employment gains have come from lower wage jobs, with many graduates underemployed.

The divergence in jobs growth is clear.

20131218.COCEmploymentGapSinceRecession1

Among all segments of workers sorted by educational attainment, college graduates are the only group that has more people employed today than when the recession started.

The number of college-educated workers with jobs has risen by 9.1 percent since the beginning of the recession. Those with a high school diploma and no further education are practically a mirror image, with employment down 9 percent on net. For workers without even a high school diploma, employment levels have fallen 14.1 percent.

Related:

December 4, 2013

The effects of raising the minimum wage

by Grace

Raising the minimum wage may feel good, but don’t count on it to reduce poverty.

A town near Seattle may raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Massachusetts is debating raising the hourly minimum to $11. And in the nation’s capital, Senate Democrats are pushing a bill that could raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

Most minimum wage earners are between the ages of 16 and 24.

20131202.COCMinWageEarnersAreYoung2

… Less than a quarter of minimum wage workers live at or below the poverty line, while two-thirds come from families above 150 percent of the poverty line. In fact, the average family income of a minimum wage worker exceeds $53,000 a year.

How do workers making $7.25 per hour live in families making over $50,000 a year? Because most of them are not the primary income earner in their families—many are students. Over half of minimum wage workers are under 25, and better than three-fifths of those report being enrolled in school. Two-thirds of minimum wage employees work part time.

Raising the minimum wage would reduce entry-level jobs.

The larger problem facing poor families is a lack of employment opportunities. Only 9 percent of individuals in poor families work full time, while 25 percent work part time. Fully 67 percent do not work at all.

Raising the minimum wage would make this problem worse. Employers would respond to the higher costs by creating fewer entry-level jobs, making it harder for disadvantaged workers to gain the skills necessary to move into higher paying positions.

Raising the minimum wage would not reduce poverty rates.

A higher minimum wage would help some workers, but few of them are poor. The larger effect is hurting the ability of potential workers living in poverty to get their foot in the door of employment. A minimum wage hike might help politicians win plaudits from the press, but it wouldn’t reduce poverty rates.

November 18, 2013

College students think they’re ready for the workplace, but employers disagree

by Grace

College students consider themselves well prepared for the workplace, but hiring managers disagree.

Nearly 80% of current college students say they’re “very” or “completely” prepared to put their organization skills to work, just 54% of hiring managers who’ve interviewed recent grads would agree, according to a survey of 2,001 U.S. college students and 1,000 hiring managers, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of education company Chegg. …

Some of the biggest disagreements are about the students’ ability to prioritize, write well, collaborate, persuade, manage projects, and communicate.

… The biggest mismatch came in students’ ability to communicate with bosses and clients—70% of students thought they were primed for the challenge; only 44% of recruiters agreed.

Schools don’t seem to be doing a good job of teaching critical thinking.

“The notion that college graduates exit universities and lack the ability to clearly organize and communicate information suggests institutions are failing to meet their mandate of forming critical thinkers,” according to the report’s author….

Ruth Brothers, consultant and former human-resources executive, believes students need “more hands-on, applied learning” and coaching on interview skills.

How about if schools focus more on teaching “factual knowledge”, which is “intimately intertwined” with critical thinking skills, as a way to close this job skills gap.

… Dan Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, is a leading expert on how students learn. “Data from the last thirty years leads to a conclusion that is not scientifically challengeable: thinking well requires knowing facts, and that’s true not only because you need something to think about,” Willingham has written. “The very processes that teachers care about most — critical thinking processes such as reasoning and problem solving — are intimately intertwined with factual knowledge that is stored in long-term memory (not just found in the environment).”

Interviewing skills may be the least of these students’ problems.

Related:  Five skills that will help you find and keep a job after college (Cost of College)

October 9, 2013

Second-tier status can mean second-tier salary for grad school

by Grace

The decision to go on to get a graduate degree should be made with specific career goals in mind.  Among other factors, a school’s reputation affects post-graduate job opportunities and salary.  From a MarketWatch story titled “10 things grad schools won’t tell you” comes this advice.

“Our second-tier status may hamper your career — and your pay.”

“The name of your school matters a lot,” says Katie Bardaro, lead economist for PayScale.com, a website that compiles compensation data. Indeed, salaries can be much higher for grads of top schools, especially for people getting M.B.A.S and law degrees, says Bardaro. Data from PayScale shows that the median pay for M.B.A. grads two years after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School is $125,000 a year, growing to $167,000 by the time they were 10 years out of school. M.B.A. grads from the less highly regarded University of Massachusetts Boston Campus earn a median $62,300 annually two years out of school, and that pay grows to $75,400 when they’re 10 years out. The University of Massachusetts didn’t respond to requests for comment.

People considering graduate school who don’t want to attend or can’t get into or afford a brand-name school should look for schools with notable alumni in their industry, says Bardaro. Such alumni might bring cachet to a school that isn’t necessarily Ivy League, says Bardaro. And if the program has a strong track record of placing people in a certain industry, that could also boost the student’s chances of finding a well-paying job, she says.

When my husband was deciding where to go for his MBA, one of the most important factors was a school’s reputation for helping its graduates find employment in specific sectors and locations.  Given the recent devaluation of an MBA, today it’s even more important to determine carefully the return on the time and money for a business school education.

Here is some advice from Megan McArdle.

… When young people ask me whether they should get an MBA, I give them the same advice that I got in the late 1990s: unless you can get into a top 10* (or have a very specific job that you know you can get by attending a regional program), then don’t. You’re too likely to end up with massive debt and no very good prospects for paying it.

Related:

September 19, 2013

Colleges are promoting the liberal arts as a path to a good career

by Grace

Some colleges are focusing more on helping liberal arts majors “translate their studies into the work world”.  This move is spurred by concerned parents and is seen as a way to save the liberal arts.

For years, most liberal-arts schools seemed to put career-services offices “somewhere just below parking” as a matter of administrative priority, in the words of Wake Forest’s president, Nathan Hatch. But increasingly, even elite, decidedly non-career-oriented schools are starting to promote their career services during the freshman year, in response to fears about the economy, an ongoing discussion about college accountability and, in no small part, the concerns of parents, many of whom want to ensure a return on their exorbitant investment.

Parents’ expectations are a driving force in getting schools to pay attention to jobs after graduation.

… “I think families at these, dare I say, fantasy schools — they’re used to kids getting what they want, and they expect that to happen at graduation.”…

Boosting career services can help preserve the liberal arts says Andy Chan, “Wake Forest’s career-development guru”.

… If universities want to preserve the liberal arts, they have a responsibility to help those humanities majors know how to translate their studies into the work world.

What are schools doing?

Working more closely with parents to get feedback, internships, job connections, and donations.  Parents with business experience are considered a valuable resource for both their expertise and money.

Transforming some traditional humanities courses into a sort of corporate training platform, with more emphasis on training in career “core competencies” like communication and collaboration.  A history class, for example, moved to a teamwork approach as a way to highlight the development of career skills.  This approach stirred some criticism with complaints ‘about the explicit career education. “I felt like I signed up to take a history course, and sessions on professional skills were not what I was looking for,”’

Improving the message to employers.  The study of liberal arts studies can develop qualities desired by job recruiters :  “fearlessness, communication, analytic skills and teamwork”.

Are these added expenditures adding value?  Whether these efforts actually make a difference is unclear, but they are certainly an example of the boost in administrative expenditures that are a significant factor in driving up college costs.

The problem with a liberal arts degree is that ‘rigor has weakened‘.  Notwithstanding the current spin on this topic, traditional liberal-arts studies are designed to instill the skills that employers seek  — critical thinking, logical reasoning, clear writing.  But there is a problem with today’s college curriculum.

… Many liberal-arts graduates, even from the best schools, aren’t getting jobs in large part because they didn’t learn much in school. They can’t write or speak well or intelligently analyze what they read.

Related:  Liberal arts skills are profitable for college graduates (Cost of College)

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