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Skilled Manual Labor Critical To US STEM Dominance

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the jobs-that-make-the-world-go-'round dept.

Science 367

Doofus writes: "The Wall Street Journal has an eye-catching headline: Welders Make $150,000? Bring Back Shop Class. Quoting: 'According to the 2011 Skills Gap Survey by the Manufacturing Institute, about 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled nationally because employers can't find qualified workers. To help produce a new generation of welders, pipe-fitters, electricians, carpenters, machinists and other skilled tradesmen, high schools should introduce students to the pleasure and pride they can take in making and building things in shop class. American employers are so yearning to motivate young people to work in manufacturing and the skilled trades that many are willing to pay to train and recruit future laborers. CEO Karen Wright of Ariel Corp. in Mount Vernon, Ohio, recently announced that the manufacturer of gas compressors is donating $1 million to the Knox County Career Center to update the center's computer-integrated manufacturing equipment, so students can train on the same machines used in Ariel's operations.' How many of us liked shop? How many young people should be training for skilled manufacturing and service jobs rather than getting history or political science degrees?"

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"Please work for us!" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46826775)

If work for a wage, you're losing at capitalism.

Re:"Please work for us!" (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46826793)

If so, when does the Game Over banner come on?

Re:"Please work for us!" (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 6 months ago | (#46826955)

If so, when does the Game Over banner come on?

Never. You get to keep playing long after you've lost. Like Monopoly would be if you could just keep racking up debt instead of going bankrupt.

Re:"Please work for us!" (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 6 months ago | (#46827157)

If so, when does the Game Over banner come on?

Never. You get to keep playing long after you've lost. Like Monopoly would be if you could just keep racking up debt instead of going bankrupt.

What does the GWB administration have to do with Welding?

Re:"Please work for us!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827253)

Nothing. Why do you ask?

Re:"Please work for us!" (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46827297)

you see, our posterior end got welded to Iraq.

LOL ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46826777)

How many young people should be training for skilled manufacturing and service jobs rather than getting history or political science degrees?

As many as possible. I've said for years the real money lies in being a welder, plumber, or an electrician.

All those people who have exhaustively studied the post modernism and sexism as exemplified by 17th century Gaelic poets with no left hand but who hadn't gone bald yet ... not so much. Because, as far as marketable skills go, some courses of study aren't exactly marketable at all.

Re:LOL ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46826977)

All those people who have exhaustively studied the post modernism and sexism as exemplified by 17th century Gaelic poets with no left hand but who hadn't gone bald yet ... not so much.

Meh, it depends what one wants out of life. I chose to study a humanities field at university and now work in academia. As a researcher, my income is squarely lower middle class, but so what. The job pay me enough to get by and indulge in the occasional luxury, and I have plenty of time to travel or pursue other interest. I don't plan on having children, I am fine with renting a flat instead of owning my own house, I live in a country where there is no need to own a car, and I can look forward to a small but sufficient pension.

The high-salary "American dream" that some Yanks here on Slashdot seem to think the goal of human existence has very little appeal for me. Sure, it is loads of money, but it also means long working hours, where telecommuting isn't usually an option. It involves sinking that money into things like a house which tie one down and suck further time and money from you when maintenance has to be done.

Those who mock studying comparatively unlucrative subjects fail to understand that there are many types of people in the world.

Re:LOL ... (1)

operagost (62405) | about 6 months ago | (#46827271)

Sure, it is loads of money, but it also means long working hours,

Not always.

where telecommuting isn't usually an option

Only if management is stupid. My company has many, many people who earn squarely upper-middle class, and they almost never step foot in an office.

Re:LOL ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827323)

How is telecommuting a possibility for the highly paid welder that we are talking about here?

Re:LOL ... (1)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#46827017)

Yup, the skilled trades are the future. Unskilled and low-skilled jobs are vanishing. Manufacturing doesn't require humans any more. But not everyone can be an engineer or artist (or an electrician for that matter, but that's kind of a special case, like an airline pilot, of needing the "memorize 1000 pages of rules" skill), and we have a real shortage of skilled blue-collar workers.

Either college needs to be focused on teaching stuff that leads to an actual job, or we need to end the "everyone should go to college" mantra. Everyone should be given the education needed to get a real job. Gaelic Poet Studies is a luxury that frankly few can afford.

Re:LOL ... (3, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | about 6 months ago | (#46827125)

I heard that airline pilots are getting paid shit now unless you're in a big plane:
http://blogs.wsj.com/middlesea... [wsj.com]

Re:LOL ... (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 6 months ago | (#46827185)

I heard that airline pilots are getting paid shit now unless you're in a big plane:

Brand new pilots, fresh out of flight school, make about $20k a year and will more than likely start at a regional airline. After 5 years or so they can get on with a major airline and see double that. Now, if a pilot starts out in the military (where they don't have to pay for flight school), they can pretty much get on with a major airline as soon as they retire, making pretty good money.

Re:LOL ... (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 6 months ago | (#46827219)

It's also quite expensive to get licensed unless you come into commercial aviation from the Air Force, because of the training and flight-hours requirements. Total cost for equipment, flight time, instruction, certifications, etc. ends up being in the $30k-$50k range, and that expenditure only qualifies you for a regional-carrier job where you make the equivalent of $12-15/hr. It's not clear that's actually a better investment of tuition money than a 4-year state college degree would be.

Re:LOL ... (1)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#46827341)

My brother is a pilot. No one coming in today is going to make crazy money, as that system will be gone by the time they're 50. But it pays a respectable salary past your first couple of years - better than e.g. a bus driver working for the city. Flying your own plane is really easy to learn, but for commercial flight few can manage the really high mountain of arbitrary regs you have to memorize, so supply is constrained (commercial non-airline pilots are a middle ground).

Re:LOL ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827049)

Not that I don't disagree with the pursuit of liberal arts degrees for actual real dollars, but these headlines are just a way of cutting wages.

" is making , there is a shortage of ."

Other x's in the past year: "Computer Scientists/Programmers", "Nurses", etc. Yet if you're really inside on the profession you realize there is actually quite a lot of unemployment in those areas, frequent layoffs, seasonal or sporadic openings, unpaid relo required and the salary quoted is for the highest, most senior, management level of that profession for which there is absolutely no shortage.

Yes I want to live in a world where welders are more valued than investment bankers, but that doesn't make it true. If you don't care what you do and just want money: be an investment banker. The best qualification is to be the offspring of one, but almost as good to boink ones son or daughter well enough that you get hitched, then they sorta have to let you in the club or their kid is in trouble.

Re:LOL ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827101)

Or you could do something academic but more practical than obscure literature, e.g. engineering. Or you could do both, get a solid background in engineering or science, while picking up practical skilled labor at the same time. The skilled labor has been useful for getting projects done myself on a small academia team, and if I ever get tired of the academia rat race, I can switch from doing one-off jobs for friends and a occasional quick buck and go into such work full time.

Re:LOL ... (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 6 months ago | (#46827105)

Marketing, Lawyers.. all useless.

Re:LOL ... (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 6 months ago | (#46827149)

In a just society lawyers would have an honorable place. That, of course, doesn't say much about the ones currently existing.

Actually, even advertising has a worthwhile place in a society. Their place is ensuring that accurate information about what is being sold is available. Somehow that doesn't match what the job currently entails...except sometimes.

Re:LOL ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827147)

Wow is this so true.

I used to work for a shipyard (in a white-collar college degree job, not a trade), and man those tradesmen were some great guys and well rewarded. Working there showed me how people can be really successful despite all the bull about sending anyone to college. That place employed 5,000 tradesmen of all types; electricians, plumbers, welders, pipe-fitters, carpenters (jig-making was incredibly critical) you name it, and they could NEVER fill enough positions. They had a program where if you were getting at least a C average in high school and graduated, they'd take you in at 18 without any experience and put you in a trade and train you up, start you as an apprentice full time with benefits.

With the amount of throughput that place had, you'd be a journeyman in your trade in 2 years, and they paid journeyman $20/hour 7 years ago. That means, you could be 20 years old, a journeyman class in a trade, making $40k with full benefits and NO STUDENT LOAN DEBT, and your journeyman class was far more valuable than msot bachelor's degrees. It was hard work, but it was physical, it paid well, and it trained well. If you stayed in it, the foremen of the trades or the Directors in charge of places like the machine shop or the pipe shop were earning comfy $150k and up salaries with no college degree.

Meanwhile my high school closed down the autoshop and machine shop and transferred the budget to art programs. /sigh

Re:LOL ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827227)

In case you haven't noticed, there is a shortage of good politicians. We're going to need those political scientists and historians when we start outsourcing all of our creative jobs in a post-information economy. Who else will negotiate the treaties that protect our existing IP regimes as we figure out what the next economic revolution will be? And who will keep the record of our decline?

Re:LOL ... (3, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46827233)

As many as possible. I've said for years the real money lies in being a welder, plumber, or an electrician.

But have you tried backing it up with any facts? People keep repeating it, but the statistics keep insisting otherwise [bls.gov] . You can point to an anecdote about a welder who made $150K in a year. The trouble is showing that large numbers of young people could all become welders who make $150K per year. On average, welders make $32,000 per year [indeed.com] . And that's among welders who actually hold a job as a welder.

Re:LOL ... (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46827325)

I was a licensed welder for 10 years. It doesn't pay that well.

It's kind of like getting your CCNA. It doesn't pay well unless you get into one of the specialties. That $300k per year is what you get if you're welding under water or on a sky scraper. You really have to know what you're doing. Know what materials you're welding, use the exact right gas mix, have $50k worth of equipment, have all your welds Xrayed and inspected. I'm really good at welding and the few times I'm had my welds Xrayed has been pretty shaming. Those $300k dudes are earning their keep.

I actually think this article is demeaning to those in the trade fields. It would be like comparing your local ISP's helpdesk guy to one of Googles top developers. Just because it involves "welding" doesn't mean it's even remotely the same job.

The US has no "STEM Dominance" (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 6 months ago | (#46826789)

It looks like it is barely part of the first world in this area these days ...

Re:The US has no "STEM Dominance" (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 6 months ago | (#46827155)

What country has a larger tech sector?

Don't drop one for another. (3, Insightful)

B33rNinj4 (666756) | about 6 months ago | (#46826795)

If someone really wants to go to college, and major in history, they should still do that. Having a passion or interest in something, even if it might not pay all the bills, isn't a bad thing. That being said, if someone is languishing in college or still on the fence about going, picking up a trade can be a tremendous benefit. They might not stick with it over the years, but it gives them something solid to fall back on.

Welders make 150k??? (5, Insightful)

litehacksaur111 (2895607) | about 6 months ago | (#46826819)

Where the hell are welders making 150k??? Probably like 5% of welders make that much. Most of the manual labor jobs (electrician, plumber, HVAC) make like 60k with 10 years of experience. New people start around 30k.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (4, Informative)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | about 6 months ago | (#46826849)

Where the hell are welders making 150k???

Underwater.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (4, Informative)

clovis (4684) | about 6 months ago | (#46826877)

From the article:
A good trade to consider: welding. I recently visited Pioneer Pipe in the Utica and Marcellus shale area of Ohio and learned that last year the company paid 60 of its welders more than $150,000 and two of its welders over $200,000. The owner, Dave Archer, said he has had to turn down orders because he can't find enough skilled welders.

So, the answer to your question is: "Pioneer Pipe in the Utica and Marcellus shale area of Ohio"

Re:Welders make 150k??? (1)

litehacksaur111 (2895607) | about 6 months ago | (#46826929)

Ok. I can say that professional baseball players make $20 million dollars. I think you are choosing the most elite of a profession and trying to use that as an average for the common entry level person. I stand by my comment that maybe 5% of welders are making 150k. The rest are not making anywhere near close.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827035)

Try less than 0.1%

Re:Welders make 150k??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827167)

If you listen to the current administration, you'd think they are all making minimum wage...

Re:Welders make 150k??? (3, Interesting)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | about 6 months ago | (#46826993)

From the article: A good trade to consider: welding. I recently visited Pioneer Pipe in the Utica and Marcellus shale area of Ohio and learned that last year the company paid 60 of its welders more than $150,000 and two of its welders over $200,000. The owner, Dave Archer, said he has had to turn down orders because he can't find enough skilled welders.

So, the answer to your question is: "Pioneer Pipe in the Utica and Marcellus shale area of Ohio"

I can't read the article, so I'll take your word on it. But if that is the case, this guy at Pioneer is an idiot. We paid welders between $30k - $40k. There is a whole metric ton of welders in the south that would take $200k and be up there in about 16 hours.

Sorry, but I just can't buy into this. There is something more to it. You don't pay 3-4 times the going rate of an employee. If you do, you suck at business.

Are these "Master Welders" that know the intricacies of the difference of sine and square waves and know the metallurgical properties that are affected by using each? Can they weld on any damn material in the known world?

Hey, welders in Ohio, when you are done cruising in the Tesla and reviewing your massive investment accounts, can you hop on /. and tell us why you make as much or more than 99% of American and why you do but the welder in Alabama gets $40k + overtime?

Re:Welders make 150k??? (4, Informative)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 6 months ago | (#46827093)

Is that welder working in an oil field? There are a HUGE number of extra qualifications and certifications you need to be a pipe or tank welder. I speak from project management experience that these guys get paid very well and it is hard to find enough good ones.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (4, Informative)

zarthrag (650912) | about 6 months ago | (#46827107)

There's probably some consideration to the *type* of welding and the conditions you must do it in. Tig Welding [wikipedia.org] requires *considerably* more skill/experience/mastery than simple brazing and stick welding. There's the added bonus that if you do it wrong, you DIE. In which case, such welders can command a premium for their skills - as they should.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827317)

Stick welding to code is far from simple.

Skilled pipe welders do BOTH stick and TIG, frequently on the same jobsite. That's why portable scratch-start TIG rigs are designed to connect to the same welding power sources either by clamping or twist-lock.

" There's the added bonus that if you do it wrong, you DIE."

Do what? Citation needed. TIG is no more dangerous to perform than stick and most TIG in industry is DC, no high freq so no annoying zaps now and then.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (4, Insightful)

snoig (535665) | about 6 months ago | (#46827013)

From the article: A good trade to consider: welding. I recently visited Pioneer Pipe in the Utica and Marcellus shale area of Ohio and learned that last year the company paid 60 of its welders more than $150,000 and two of its welders over $200,000. The owner, Dave Archer, said he has had to turn down orders because he can't find enough skilled welders.

So in reality what you have are some welders putting in long hours in the oil fields and probably working 70 to 80 hours a week so they are getting paid lots of overtime. In the real world, that doesn't sound so good. It's no wonder Pioneer Pipe can't find people to fill positions.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 months ago | (#46827027)

Welders make good money in oil and gas fields but a good welder can make money in a lot of other industries as well.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (1)

drall.kj (3527169) | about 6 months ago | (#46826925)

Not to mention the steam/pipe fitters, welders, electricians I work with... are all on the bench most of the time. I don't know if it is just where I'm located (Mid Hudson Valley New York) but the guys I know are all hungry for work.... and there isn't that much work.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46827207)

Mid Hudson Valley New York.... and there isn't that much work.

Found the problem... Tell them to MOVE. NY is a pretty bad place for business and will be so for a long time. I hear North Dakota is booming, although you might have to drive a truck or something in the Oil Fields.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | about 6 months ago | (#46826927)

150k wouldn't surprise me at all, especially with construction and UAW union workers. Some manual laborers in this country make much more than that.

I recall one of the new trucks being built on an aluminum frame? I think that requires tig welding which is extremely difficult and very few have mastered the skill. Very precise welding is also extremely important in large steel works projects like bridges and condo/office towers.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (2)

nblender (741424) | about 6 months ago | (#46827041)

I beg to differ. I plumbed my entire house myself but had to call an actual plumber for some permit specific stuff. The guy I called was a junior plumber and he charged me $70/hr. He was the only one I could find who wasn't swamped, working 60hour weeks. He was also cheaper than the 60hr/week guys who quoted me $90+/hr. Starting to look like embedded firmware isn't the dream job after all.. At least I can bite my nails.

The junior guy who came out to do my hookup looked at the rest of the plumbing and said "Nice, who did you get to do that?", referring to all of my work. When I told him it was me, he was impressed and said I should come work for him. Plumbing is fairly easy, definitely not $70/hour worth of complicated..

This is western canada, and last summer. The guy who drilled my water well charged me $145/hr but he has a service rig and probably doesn't pull 40hr weeks.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827111)

For real. There was piece in the local paper along these lines where they quoted a large firm in my area how they had skilled trade jobs at great pay for people with "math" skills where they would provide the training. "We just can't find people with the math skills to fill these positions". I gave them a call and we talked about my qualifications (calculus and linear algebra), and they told me that they had a position starting at 30k, I could make it up to 35k in three years!

I'm doing significantly better than 30k while working 30-35 hours a week right now. These fantastic jobs for people who have a strong background in critical thinking and mathematics are just a bullshit talking point. You can make just as much waiting tables as what these guys are offering.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827137)

thank you was about to say the same thing. welders look forward to 20/hr and somewhat lousy benefits

Re:Welders make 150k??? (1)

zarmanto (884704) | about 6 months ago | (#46827221)

My thoughts, exactly. Crud, I still don't make that kind of scratch, and I'm a Senior Software Engineer who is rapidly approaching 40! Frankly, I'd switch to welding in a heartbeat (and probably lower my heartrate considerably) if I could actually get a raise in the process.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (1)

zarmanto (884704) | about 6 months ago | (#46827259)

To clarify... that was 40 years old... not 40k. (Doh!)

Re:Welders make 150k??? (1)

dbraden (214956) | about 6 months ago | (#46827225)

A buddy of mine was making more than that as a pipe welder. It's also very helpful if you're willing to travel.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (2)

blackanvil (1147329) | about 6 months ago | (#46827345)

Welders certified in welding to certain specifications can easily make this much, particularly if they own/run their own shop. Not common, certainly, but someone with their own equipment who can go onsite to a wellhead, oil platform, or nuclear reactor and make certified repairs on demand can pretty much quote their own fee. Welding certifications are very specialized, being able to TIG 1/4" stainless doesn't qualify you for 1/2" stainless, or 1/4" aluminum, etc. As a hobbyist, I find welding to be fun, but suspect the skill required to do larger projects to an ISO or Federal specification would be quite the reach.

Re:Welders make 150k??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827359)

Master welders with certifications in specific heavy industry applications (oil, gas, marine, etc) who travel to big jobs and work a ton of OT can certainly exceed $150k. Your average welder, like the ones at my manufacturing plant in the midwest, make something like $40k plus some benefits and occasional OT. It's certainly a fair wage for a middle class life, but nothing like this article portrays.

WelderS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46826829)

Doubt it. Most welders work in boring repetitive jobs in dangerous conditions for precarious employment, and they do not make 150k$.

Re:WelderS? (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#46826947)

you are wrong, I've done construction scheduling for years and the skilled trade workers (also pipefitters, abatement insulators) can make that. But you'd be following big construction or plant outages, and working long days in project pinch times. but that's not a starting wage either, mastery of skill is required

Liability, Funding, Responsibilities (5, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | about 6 months ago | (#46826837)

Until the dangers of sitting at a desk get raised up a few more levels the spectre of injuries in shop class has pretty much banished the once wonderful hands on practical skills from the ciriculum.

The lessons of the table saw and possibility of losing fingers or getting a 2x4 in the gut were taught to me in grade 8. I can't imagine the number of permission slips needed to allow such adventures in our modern school system. Also given the lack of funding currently in our systems the need for shop equipment, supplies, trained teachers and insurance is a financial burden I can't see the system taking on.

Certainly there are pockets were it could but done but but it would take several revolutions in funding, responsibilty and trust before it could be implemented on a wide scale.

Re:Liability, Funding, Responsibilities (1)

Xoltri (1052470) | about 6 months ago | (#46826973)

I remember in my grade 8 shop class, we were allowed to use a small forge to melt lead (that we could purchase for $10 for a block of it) to then make small army men. It was pretty cool, but I can't believe they let us play with molten lead and then lead toys!

Re:Liability, Funding, Responsibilities (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827023)

Also given the lack of funding currently in our systems ...

Everybody loves infographics. [usc.edu]

TC:DR (too colorful: didn't read) version:
This is based off the 2011 numbers
The US spent $1,909 more per child that year than the next most overfunded nation. $2,090 more than the most successful education system in the graphic (Finland). For all this spending, the US roughly ties with Russia (who spent $5,893 less per child that year).

It isn't funding.

Re:Liability, Funding, Responsibilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827029)

Until the dangers of sitting at a desk get raised up a few more levels the spectre of injuries in shop class has pretty much banished the once wonderful hands on practical skills from the ciriculum.

That is the exact opposite mentality of what we need. Shop classes should be mandatory, if kids get maimed or killed in the process all it means is that evolution is still working. Workplace injuries were on the decline well before we put safety standards in place because over time general competency was on the rise, needing permission slips and obscene safety standards is just making us weaker as a species.

Re:Liability, Funding, Responsibilities (3, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 months ago | (#46827083)

Move to the country, I had shop in high school available all the way from woodworking and drafting to metal working to engine repair. Granted, that was about 10 years ago, but so far as I know the classes are still offered (they were quite popular when I was there).

The world needs plumbers too (3, Insightful)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 6 months ago | (#46826857)

Not everyone needs a college degree. In fact, most people don't need a college degree. What people need is stability and job security, and the "college degree == stability" heuristic is easy to learn but apparently hard to unlearn. If the only reason you're in college is "but I gotta get a degree, man" and you can't think of a reason why, drop what you're doing and go weld shit. I'm not even kidding. You'll make more money and have far better prospects than most other people in your position.

Re:The world needs plumbers too (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46826919)

The tricky bit is that 'stability and job security' are apparently bad for shareholder value or something, so people hunting it are racing against (generally successful) attempts to crush it like a bug and bring in the temps and subcontractors and offshore peons and whatever else seems handy.

This doesn't make their dumb plan any less dumb; but the number of good plans that they passed up to chose that dumb plan is something we are actively whittling away at.

Re:The world needs plumbers too (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 6 months ago | (#46826931)

Hell, I have a college degree in shop class for all the good its doing me. Unless your willing to get up and move to were the jobs are, a degree means nothing.

Re:The world needs plumbers too (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 6 months ago | (#46827183)

+1

There are many jobs that don't need a college degree and will pay well.

First, there is always mortuary science. People die regardless of the economic cycle, and is sounds grisly, but dealing with the bereaved and handling funerals does need people.

There will always be a need for plumbers, HVAC people and electricians. There becomes more of a need come construction booms, and people leave the field when the building stops. However, a master HVAC person will find work somewhere.

Welding is important. Yes, a robotic welder is extremely precise, but it will be a while before a robot is autonomous enough to go into the field to weld a metal plate onto the side of a building or do one-off metal fab work for a project (for example, I've had a local welder fab me steel cages so that some servers don't go missing that are used by a business in a crime-prone area [1].) Right now, no robot can do that on site, yet.

As for college degrees being stable... not in this economy. Even postdocs struggle in this environment, and people consider this economy "recovered" now. So, might as well learn a trade that pays as much if not more [2], and skip the six digit student loan debt.

[1]: Ironically, this was a suggestion several years ago made on /. It has worked out well because before that, the local meth-using element would just snip any Kensington cables with bolt cutters.

[2]: Good luck getting H-1Bs for plumbers and electricians. It will take people fresh off the boat just as much time to get their master HVAC certification as someone out of high school.

Is that you Judge Smails (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 6 months ago | (#46827277)

Just for the record, the line is "The world needs ditch diggers, too."

(On a serious note, tradesmen in the difficult trades will make barely and average wage. The ones who make a lot of money go on to own or run businesses either instead of or in addition to their trade. A smart, motivated individual will make good money as a welder by ultimately running a welding or ironworking business. You're average unmotivated wage employee who is a certified welder will simply make an average living.)

Can't find welders? (5, Informative)

jandrese (485) | about 6 months ago | (#46826867)

Given the number of fabrication shops that have closed or gone overseas and laid off welders in the past two decades, I find it highly suspicious that companies can't find people to fill their positions. Is this like the H1B "crisis" where Silicon Valley firms can't find tech workers anywhere locally, but it turns out they're asking for DBA administrators with 15 years of experience on 5 different platforms plus 10 years coding experience with 8 different languages and can sysadmin server clusters that are willing to start people at $40k/year? I mean yeah, that guy in India said he could do it at that price, why can't we bring him over here?

Re:Can't find welders? (2)

scamper_22 (1073470) | about 6 months ago | (#46827097)

It's a bit of both and it's the same with software.

There was this theory at one time that we outsource low-level work and can keep the high-level work.

The problem is simply how do you build high-level talent without having anyone coming in at the lower level.

You generally can't and you just exhaust your old high-level talent.

And yes there is of course the cost equation from overseas as well. They of course forget the payscale difference and the hours worked and the working conditions.

It's all a scam anyways.

Re:Can't find welders? (1)

Koreantoast (527520) | about 6 months ago | (#46827171)

I think you make a good point. I do believe there is a welder shortage, but it's for niche or highly experienced areas. Companies allowed the pipeline to dry up, and now they are paying the price and scrambling to make up for years of neglect. Don't think you can make a H1B crisis as easily with welding however: people may be confused or intimidated by what advanced scientific and programming fields do, but welding is one that tends to fall more neatly into traditional territory of organized labor. They may be weakened, but they can fight tooth and nail on that one.

"STEM" worker? (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46826875)

So now they need workers who can actually build stems.

It's not about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46826885)

Dirty, 14 hour shifts, and working in an under-served skillset--not exactly the environment that lends itself to working on things you could take pleasure and pride in.

Re:It's not about the money (5, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#46827065)

no pride? Fitting three foot diameter stainless pipes that will take 2,000 psi and 900 degree superheated steam can't be a source of pride? making skyscraper can't? doing asbestos abatement on a power plant safely and properly can't? rebuilding and replacing a pump the size of a house can't? nonsense, I've worked with those people, they take huge pride in their work and are very much valued and sought for in industry.

Re:It's not about the money (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 6 months ago | (#46827313)

The people who take pride in their work are the reason they're sought after. If they just weld shit together and set the torch down when the whistle blows are not. I work with them too.

Re:It's not about the money (1)

preaction (1526109) | about 6 months ago | (#46827119)

Did you just describe my job writing computer code?

Apprenticeships (1)

srobert (4099) | about 6 months ago | (#46826901)

I learned to weld, do electrical work, air conditioning and refrigeration repair, boiler operations, etc. through an apprenticeship. It's a good deal. You get paid to learn. There's a catch though. You've got to join a union. No knowledgeable journeyman is going to train you if you're someplace where seniority doesn't count.
These days I've moved on to being a licensed professional engineer. Working my way through college on union wages, I graduated without owing any student loans.

BS - Plenty of Good Employees (5, Insightful)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | about 6 months ago | (#46826905)

I have a background in manufacturing. I have attended Chamber meetings, city gatherings, and focus group-thingies. I heard about this skills gap and how manufacturers needed good qualified employees but just couldn't find them.

Well, it's bullshit. They can find them... they don't want to pay them. You really think a welder is going to make $150k anytime soon? No.

The reason Ariel wants the local job center to have the same equipment they have is so they can pay some kid $9/hr (maybe) to run their machines. They don't want a truly skilled employee to run a machine all day. They want a dumb, barely passed maths kid that can follow instructions. Bonus if he already knows where they cycle stop button is located on your machines.

I like this idea. I think more kids need job training. I do not think manufacturers are truly hurting to fill positions. My last company had no issues with filling positions, even if they wouldn't think of starting someone at more than $10/hr.

I am not here to bash US manufacturing, as I do think it is vital to US success. But let's not look at this like all the non-tech's look at H1-B's and think that the poor manufacturers are just a victim of our lack luster education system.

Bingo! Mod up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827197)

If they have a pool of operator candidates who PAY to train then they get off dirt cheap and can cherrypick.

Manufacturing uses machine operators, not "machinists". One thing is not like the other.

Companies can hire a few people to set up machines then hand them off to operators. The low labor costs more than pay for a machine crash now and then.

It's dejavu all over again (1)

userw014 (707413) | about 6 months ago | (#46826907)

I've heard this kind of thing before. It seems to recur every 8 to 10 years or so. The thing about the skilled trades is that in order to earn mini-banker-like compensation you need to be highly skilled in the very high end of the trades because they're the people who can afford welders good enough for nuclear power plant requirements and things like that. Residential and commercial (i.e.: office and retail) trades aren't going to need the high end skills. It takes years to get there.

As for myself, my backup plan if I couldn't hack college were the electrical and plumbing trades. That was during the Reagan Recession, and as it happened I never had to seriously pursue that. But having been unemployed during the depths of the Great Recession, perhaps I ought to pursue getting an Electrician's license.

Re:It's dejavu all over again (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 6 months ago | (#46827321)

I've heard this kind of thing before. It seems to recur every 8 to 10 years or so. The thing about the skilled trades is that in order to earn mini-banker-like compensation you need to be highly skilled in the very high end of the trades because they're the people who can afford welders good enough for nuclear power plant requirements and things like that. Residential and commercial (i.e.: office and retail) trades aren't going to need the high end skills. It takes years to get there.

As for myself, my backup plan if I couldn't hack college were the electrical and plumbing trades. That was during the Reagan Recession, and as it happened I never had to seriously pursue that. But having been unemployed during the depths of the Great Recession, perhaps I ought to pursue getting an Electrician's license.

That's not true. Just like not every welder will start at $150,000/yr, neither will every business major be working on Wall Street. The fact is that most skilled labor jobs are held by aging baby boomers and as they leave, there aren't people to take the places. Heavy machinery mechanics start at $50,000/yr plus benefits and they can't hire them quick enough (granted, it is hard work), supply and demand drives the wages up. Put differently, with so many college grads, most white collar jobs have been held in check.

Skilled labor jobs may not get you a top paying job, but it will more than likely get you a decent paying job.

Robots... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46826941)

Young people in school aren't stupid. They understand that these are the types of jobs that will be replaced by robots in the future. These jobs are dead-end.

Re:Robots... (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 6 months ago | (#46827283)

Sorry, but that's not it. Insurance requirements have caused almost all schools (at least locally) to totally eliminate both wood and metal shop.

It wasn't that the students didn't want the classes (even if they didn't want that as a job), it was that the classes were cancelled, and the shops ripped out of the schools.

Utterly delusional self confirming horsesh*t (5, Insightful)

cahuenga (3493791) | about 6 months ago | (#46826959)

More Wall Street pimping of the "skills mismatch" myth, disproven repeatedly. Wages are not increasing for so-called mismatched skills and it might be interesting to see some actual studies rather than anecdotes being shovels out of manufacturer's lobby groups. Good grief, this is being reported as factual news?

the real world (1)

Libr8r (3628041) | about 6 months ago | (#46826967)

I was a carpenter long before I was an engineer and I will always have that to fall back on. Now kids get $100k worthless degree instead of on-the-job training for $100k/yr.

vocational schools (1)

clovis (4684) | about 6 months ago | (#46827021)

This problem has already been solved. It's done with the state sponsored one and two year vocational school programs.
In more forward looking states, they build these programs in concert with local industries to meet specific needs.

However, there's a political problem.
The universities and colleges fight tooth and nail against these schools because they take funding and students.

Re:vocational schools (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 6 months ago | (#46827287)

You can't get the kinds of skills being talked about here through 1- or 2-year vocational programs, though. There is virtually no market for starting welders, because the low-end stuff has been automated or outsourced. What's in demand are people with at least 5+, preferably 10+ years of experience in specific high-skill niches. You can't pick those skills up by taking a year or two of classes at the local community college; you need a more involved apprenticeship program, or a career path where you start in an entry-level job and work your way up. But those entry-level jobs and apprenticeships are few and far between. A few unions provide some training paths (this is common among electricians), but those are way over-subscribed with long waiting lists, too.

In short, if you could magically take an 18-year-old high school graduate and make them a master welder through a 1-year vocational program, then yeah, they'd have their pick of jobs. But how do you do that?

Bullshit, and this is why: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827031)

"Can't find cheap" /= "can't find".

Becoming a real pipe welder requires superb hand-eye coordination, excellent close vision under welding conditions, and much more experience than you can
get out of "shop class". It tales talent and absolutely dogged determination.

American employers want cheap workers but won't train and grow them themselves. They want to hire off the street then discard when the contract is done, but be able to pick up where they left off from a pool of skilled people eagerly awaiting the opportunity to cup balls.

"To help produce a new generation of welders, pipe-fitters, electricians, carpenters, machinists and other skilled tradesmen, high schools should introduce students to the pleasure and pride they can take in making and building things in shop class."

No, that's an UNFOCUSED investment. Invest in trade schools and weed out the seat-fillers so you actually graduate capable people.

Doing that doesn't suit the revenue model of most schools. Community colleges (I worked in one training weldors and now attend it taking CNC machinist courses) could produce enough trained workers, but the pressure to fill class seats means high rates of people who pass the course but are unsuited for demanding work.

Machinists don't make shit. The "hot dog cart" is a standing joke in machinist forums which you may visit if you doubt me. Real machinists do what they do because they love the work, but many move elsewhere so they can make more money. I'm studying CNC for fun, but I wouldn't try to get into that field for a career. It's too easy to get stuck as an operator due to lack of upward mobility. Good operators make their bosses money, but don't necessarily get to keep much of it.

Any employers reading this, consider what works elsewhere and worked superbly in the past. APPRENTICESHIPS with a CAREER PATH.

Apprenticeships train your people your way, and a career path keeps them onboard because gratitude doesn't pay fucking grocery bills.

Better yet, just outsource to someone who gets this. If you have to ask why you can't get good people you are incompetent.

College is unsustainable longterm (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 6 months ago | (#46827055)

I banged the drum of the German model before, but basically you apprentice somewhere for low pay (note, still pay) which increases each year. After that, you have a skill in demand and cannot be copied by someone that gets 2 weeks training or some such at a corporate camp in America.

My cousin went that route, going as a chef. First he wanted to stay in America, but would have to give out $60k over multiple years at one of the premiere schools here and it wouldn't be training at a real kitchen, but a student kitchen. Great theory and all but just not the same. Also, all he'd interact with would be other students and a handful of professors.

He went over there, snagged an apprenticeship at a very well respected hotel, and worked in varying stations in the restaurant kitchen from day one. A real kitchen that had to push food out the door at peak hours of lunch and dinner. And he got paid enough to live on and even save. Also got some theory at a state school they sent him every season (free). Now that he's out, his "European-trained chef" credential open a lot more doors than the stateside degree.

As I see the American model, it looks like most of the liberal arts degrees jobs require is to make sure they don't get an idiot who got passed along in the public school system. However, the degree is often meaningless in context of the job.

We essentially sold the youth of this country down the river, having diluted the high school diploma to toilet paper and promising them that an expensive college degree is a good way into a good job. Jobs that are increasingly not there.

If you look at trends of service jobs and outsourcing, the return on a non-stem degrees is questionable compared to having tangible skills that cannot be employed in China and bought back here in a finished product.

Looking at the longterm trend of US's economy (thanks to it's debt), I would definitely jump onto the skills market again if I were coming out of High School and not all into STEM degree.

this FP for GNAA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827109)

Shop Class?!? (2)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 6 months ago | (#46827115)

Are you insane? Shop class means little Johnnie will be around big, dangerous machines and he might get hurt. And, if Johnnie gets hurt, his mommy and daddy are going to sue the school district!

Re:Shop Class?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827335)

Hitler lost World War Two and now we have to deal with the consequences. Enjoy your frivolous Judaic litigation.

workers should never study history or politics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827151)

they might realize how they're being screwed and then do something about it.

need more trades / apprenticeship less college (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#46827153)

need more trades / apprenticeship less college yes even the NBA and NFL need to have minor leagues as well.

150k my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827173)

No welder is making 150k/yr. I've worked multiple welding jobs and even some of the best cap out around maybe 50k after 5-10yrs. The majority are still in the 20-30k/yr range. The manual labor market is also polluted with all kinds of unions that in contrary to popular belief, actually hurt the workers more than they help. They cost the company and the workers money for an illusion of job security. I've experienced this first hand as well.

Don't Believe the Hype (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827187)

From the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers
Median Pay in 2012: ~36k
Job Outlook: 6% (slower than average)

I'm sure there's a welder out there SOMEWHERE than makes $150k. However, if you go into welding for a living then chances are its not going to be YOU.

Meanwhile, the median income for those with a Bachelors degree comes in at ~43k (and this is 2003 data). Of course, I'm probably preaching to the choir here.

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/product... [bls.gov]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

Yes to metal shop (2)

dlenmn (145080) | about 6 months ago | (#46827189)

Interestingly, I had metal shop in middle school, but not high school. (The middle school building used to be the high school, and the new high school didn't get a metal shop, although it did have other shops.) Whoever decided to let middle schoolers weld was crazy, but in a good way. It should definitely be available in high school.

I'm a physics grad student now, and I've used the student shop here to make custom parts -- in part because the real machinists in the instrument shop have a several month backlog. I guess that's inline with the article's claim. I've got a ton of respect for the machinists here: it requires lots of skill and problem solving abilities; it's not easy to make the crazy stuff we want. In short, their jobs aren't in danger of automation, and apparently there's demand for them. The same cannot be said for communications and journalism majors...

WSJ doesn't understand education (3, Interesting)

matbury (3458347) | about 6 months ago | (#46827195)

"Shop" and physically making things in school isn't so much about training people to do manual jobs at some point in the dim and distant future. Physically manipulating materials, objects, and tools helps to develop spatial awareness (AKA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org] ) which is a highly valuable and broadly transferable skill. If you want your kids to be good at Math, Physics, Chemistry, as well as the arts, design, etc., get them making stuff, taking stuff apart to see how it works, etc. from a young age. It'll work wonders for their cognitive development.

You think safety is the reason? (3, Insightful)

WarSpiteX (98591) | about 6 months ago | (#46827199)

Looking at the comments so far, so many of them talk about safety and comfort being the reasons people take desk jobs rather than blue collar.

Bullshit.

After 40 years of continually shitting on unions, blue collar work, and glorifying every other career choice (badass cop! miraculous doctor! patriot marine! caring nurse! brainy engineer! saint virgin-for-life network guy!), Americans are now wondering why nobody wants these jobs.

And now that those who stuck with it are getting paid, suddenly there's a "labor shortage" and we'd better fucking train some people before they realize that a shortage of labor is an excess of pay.

Labour Shortage Solved (1)

number17 (952777) | about 6 months ago | (#46827205)

A labour shortage you say? The hotest labour trend right now in Canada is Temporary Foreign Workers [actionplan.gc.ca] .

Take a look at some headlines from the past couple hours:
Pizza place faces federal grilling over temporary foreign workers [theglobeandmail.com]
McDonald's foreign worker practices halted in face of investigation [www.cbc.ca]
PBO: Temporary Foreign Worker Program May Be Taking 1/4 Of New Jobs [huffingtonpost.ca]

High school size matters (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 6 months ago | (#46827229)

I went to a fairly large high school (3000+ students) that had an attached "career center". I took a few of the 1 hour classes, including basic electronics and drafting (including autocad). They also offered 3 hour vocational classes for people who did not plan on going to college. These included auto repair, plumbing, cosmetology, child care (where they took care of other student's kids and allowed them to stay in school), and medical/dental assistance.

It was a large building with a lot of expensive stuff in it. There is no way that a smaller school could afford something like that.

Mike Rowe (4, Interesting)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 6 months ago | (#46827237)

That's basically what Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) has been saying. He started a foundation to to provide funding for high school graduates to go to various skilled labor trade schools instead of college. Most skilled labor jobs are currently held by aging baby boomers and when they retire, there won't be enough people to fill the need. College isn't the answer for these jobs.

No investment in training required (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827257)

Don't need apprenticeships and don't need to invest in any training. Just do what the Royal Bank of Canada does - bribe the government into letting you bring in "temporary" foreign workers. God knows how terrible the conditions and hazardous the work in a bank is that they can't find Canadians to do the job. Drives down the wages of everybody - bonuses all 'round for the CEOs.

where to learn these skills? (1)

skydude_20 (307538) | about 6 months ago | (#46827279)

Where does one find a place that would teach/certify me in welding? I've already got a day job developing. Useful skills to have when the zombie apocalypse comes.

No Surprise - (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827333)

Some time about thirty years ago we got this idea in our heads that the trades were for stupid people and that manual labor, no matter how skilled, was below the dignity of a 'smart' child. Now look at us. Our educational attainment is higher than ever, and yet college graduates with advanced degrees have trouble finding work. Those 'stupid' people in the trades make the rest of us look dumb and command a skill set that's far more practically useful (and frequently more intellectually challenging) than most of the skills college grads now carry - oh, and they're usually not eyeballs deep in debt.

Trade jobs might become obsolete soon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827347)

Some of these jobs might soon be obsolete. High paying trade jobs are very much a target for automation, and not just the 'robots making cars' automation you immediately think of. We're getting to the point that we can turn some of these 'skilled' jobs into unskilled jobs with the assistance of software. IE, the computer takes care of all the higher level stuff, and walks the human through the process of whatever it is they are doing. One doesn't need much skill to follow simple instructions("unscrew screws A and B," "is the part rough?", etc).

For example, right now we are pretty close to automating the job of CNC operator to the point that it can be done by unskilled labor. IE, the computer generates a plan of which machines to use and CNC code to run and the operator's job simply becomes following exactly what the computer tells them to do.

Grappling With the Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46827349)

I contend that the greatest value in shop class goes way beyond any career goals. Working with physical stuff teaches you the basic nuts-n-bolts of reality. Shop class is applied physics and of value to anyone, regardless of life goals.

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