Dear Colleagues
 
The economic stimulus package that president Obama signed into life last week had an interesting side effect. Most of the jobs created (or protected) require some sort of qualification or degree. According to Higher Ed (2/23, Ledeman), “a minimum of 54% of the 3.7 million jobs created require at least a post secondary certificate”. And a large chunk of the rest, require some sort of specialized training. So even though many of these programs are designed to help the more lowly-skilled and poorly paid, they really end up helping skilled workers. With a little thinking it is easy to list a great many manual jobs that have been replaced by automated machines which are then controlled by skilled operators – generally there seems to be a reduction in demand for low skilled workers.
 
It follows then that you can bet your bottom dollar your investment in your own skills will pay off. I am rather cautious, though, about highly theoretical, academic skills being conducive to further employment. But putting effort into improving your practical know-how and skills is surely a powerful way of staying employed – particularly ‘on-the-job’ experiential type training. I was inspired today after talking to one of our highly experienced power system protection instructors. He is a professional engineer who still seeks to actively improve his skills by reading extensively on technical topics, talking to his peers, attending courses and walking the factory floor (from the UK to North America to Asia) in an effort to observe and understand new manufacturing techniques. And he is poised to turn 80 next month. He has to turn work away “as he hasn’t had time to work in his garden recently”!
 
Although, we are naturally enthused about education and learning, the inimitable Oscar Wilde does sound a warning note: ‘Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught’.

Yours in engineering learning.

Steve