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  #61  
Old 02-01-2012, 04:04 PM
bamba's Avatar
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Trades + Manufacturing

This thread is painfully relevant. I have a masters degree in the sciences, and have learned the hard way that you can't earn a living based on what you know, but on what you can DO. I've been unemployed for almost 2 years, and am at the point of abandoning my previous field. I can't help but feel that if I love science, I should have gone into applied sciences: engineering.

I'm considering learning a trade. I found a nice guy that will teach me how to weld for free! At the very least, I'll be able to do body work on my wagon.

I'm old enough (~30) that I still had shop class in school, but sadly many of those programs are being jettisoned in favor of teaching computer skills for our 'service economy'. Of course, the decision makers failed to understand that service jobs, like manufacturing jobs, can be exported. Ever notice that when you call for technical support, the reps have Indian accents?

Speaking of manufacturing, I've been reading and noticing that the manufacturing sector, at least here in the rust belt, is making a modest comeback. Companies are looking for employees with mechanical aptitude, good math skills, and an interest in making things. What's actually holding it back is the lack of a skilled labor force. And this is in Cleveland, traditionally a pretty 'blue-collar' place. Employers simply cannot find people -- especially younger people -- that know how to DO stuff. It's gotten so bad that a group of manufacturers and local community colleges are starting to construct new training programs. The are good paying ($50k+) manufacturing jobs out there, but not the right candidates to fill them.
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-1998 E320 Wagon - 280k mi
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  #62  
Old 02-01-2012, 04:49 PM
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Being from an it background I find it amazing that the wages for a full time it guy today is almost half of what it use to be in 2000. No more making a living working on computers... S I learn photography. Still don't make anything to speak of but at least I enjoy it. Just finished up shooting a new magazine for Chattanooga. Been thinking about going back and learning welding or something else to actually make a living.... It's due to this lack of work that I drive the MBs in the first place. They are cheap, easy to work on yourself, most parts are affordable and they get the mpg of modern economy car.
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  #63  
Old 02-01-2012, 05:14 PM
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It is important to have a good education, may be a college degree, to learn the basic stuffs. There are others who advocate that you do not need that, it was in the news about 2-3 months ago about giving a high school kid a $100K grant to start it's own business. I do not buy that.

It is also important to learn a trade, at least not afraid to get your hands dirty. You will find yourself saving a ton of money by doing the work yourself. I am a jack of all trades but master of some guy. I work in high tech software but I can also do high end micro-electronic or low end job like replacing the toilet if necessary. Actually anything in between is OK for me. Imagining paying someone $90/hr to change your faucet washer or spark plugs?

The bottom line is that everyone has its place in the society. If everyone does their own work then there will be no jobs for the mechanics or carpenters. However, it never hurt to try and there is a lot of info on the Internet to help you.
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  #64  
Old 02-01-2012, 07:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bamba View Post
This thread is painfully relevant. I have a masters degree in the sciences, and have learned the hard way that you can't earn a living based on what you know, but on what you can DO. I've been unemployed for almost 2 years, and am at the point of abandoning my previous field. I can't help but feel that if I love science, I should have gone into applied sciences: engineering.

I'm considering learning a trade. I found a nice guy that will teach me how to weld for free! At the very least, I'll be able to do body work on my wagon.

I'm old enough (~30) that I still had shop class in school, but sadly many of those programs are being jettisoned in favor of teaching computer skills for our 'service economy'. Of course, the decision makers failed to understand that service jobs, like manufacturing jobs, can be exported. Ever notice that when you call for technical support, the reps have Indian accents?

Speaking of manufacturing, I've been reading and noticing that the manufacturing sector, at least here in the rust belt, is making a modest comeback. Companies are looking for employees with mechanical aptitude, good math skills, and an interest in making things. What's actually holding it back is the lack of a skilled labor force. And this is in Cleveland, traditionally a pretty 'blue-collar' place. Employers simply cannot find people -- especially younger people -- that know how to DO stuff. It's gotten so bad that a group of manufacturers and local community colleges are starting to construct new training programs. The are good paying ($50k+) manufacturing jobs out there, but not the right candidates to fill them.
You could always become a teacher. ~ 'those who can, do, those who cant, teach. Those who cant teach, become academics."

Seriously though, teaching is an occupation with a high demand for people most places.
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1967 230-6 auto parts car. rust bucket.
1980 300D now parts car 800k miles
1984 300D 500k miles
1987 250td 160k miles English import
2001 jeep turbo diesel 130k miles
1998 jeep tdi ~ followed me home. Needs a turbo.
1968 Ford F750 truck. 6-354 diesel conversion.
Other toys ~J.D.,Cat & GM ~ mainly earth moving
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  #65  
Old 02-01-2012, 07:48 PM
engatwork's Avatar
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I was unemployed one year on Jan 21st and drew unemployment for three months while deciding what to do. Heck, I built a shop. I could have gotten another job but it would have involved moving away from where I live so I fell back on what I love to do and that is working on cars. I can spend 12 hours in the shop and it is like being in there for 1 hour.

On top of that I built the shop within walking distance of the house so I don't have to drive much anymore.
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  #66  
Old 02-01-2012, 09:53 PM
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Agree with the sentiments expressed about mastering a trade, but be able to do as much as you can learn. Several down side points however. In the world as it is now, it seems that what you CAN do is never as important as a peice of paper that says you passed a test somewhere.
There are many things I can do, but after 30+ years as a union fire sprinkler tech, I can tell you the certified trades aren't what they used to be. Early on, I made about 10 times the minimum wage. Now it is about 3 times minimum. (Point being, the cost of living has gone up a whole lot faster than the rate of pay.)
BIG plus side? No matter what high tech or paper shuffle jobs there are out there, unless they want to conduct business in a tent with an extension cord, there will be a need for the people who build and mantain the buildings. As long as there are buildings, these jobs can't be outsourced.
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  #67  
Old 02-01-2012, 10:12 PM
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Location: Melbourne, Florida
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1982 240d

Unemployed Space Center Engineer, but starting my own company! Tired of the economy and governments poor decisions causing "workforce reductions" !

We've done almost all the routine maintenance before I got let go, but have yet to repair my vacuum leak affecting my door locks, And have postponed my 5-speed conversion or rear axle gear ratio change.

I love this 240d but the honest truth is I've been driving most of my distance trips in my 2001 Beetle TDI due to the 45+mpg it gets. Plus I keep the 240 tucked nicely under a car cover ready for sunny day weekend trips :-)
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1982 240d 4-speed 210k daily driver...
06 Jetta TDI DSG 150k
1997 Ford F150 230k miles 4.2L V6 "Work Truck"
1980 Honda CB900c, 1986 Kawasaki Voyager
1984 300D...Totaled OUCH!
1985 300D Turbo 222k miles "Dos" sold to 79Mercy
1986 300SDL 98K miles "The Beater"....sold
1987 190E 2.3 16v Euro spec 115K miles....sold
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  #68  
Old 02-01-2012, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by layback40 View Post
You could always become a teacher. ~ 'those who can, do, those who cant, teach. Those who cant teach, become academics."

Seriously though, teaching is an occupation with a high demand for people most places.
That's good advice. Although I've never liked that saying (probably because a family member once said it to me... ), it's an option. Nowadays, at least here in the states, you need a degree in education, or at least certification. That's kind of ironic for my situation -- I taught undergraduates for a total of 4 years while I was in college and graduate school, but somehow I'm unqualified to teach teenagers. Go figure. Anyway, if I go into another field, I'll need to return to school anyway. So I'm examining all the options.

One thing I've realized, thanks to this forum, is that I like problem solving and working with my hands. Not problem solving in the pontificating, academic sense, but the very immediate process of diagnosing and fixing a mechanical (or electrical... or vacuum) issue. So I'm more interested in something involving that cognitive process and the associated tangible 'fixing'. What exactly that will be remains to be seen...

Anyway, so I'm not completely off-topic: my wagon was in dire need of some routine maintenance for the past 3 years. I had been putting off even basic stuff, like new rotors and new accumulators, because the parts were cost prohibitive. This past Christmas, some family members offered to buy me some parts. It's was pretty generous of them. Either that, or they were tired of getting whiplash every time I drove over bumpy roads...
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-1985 300TD - 324k mi on chassis. MB "Tauschaggregat" 617 motor + 4-speed conversion
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-1998 E320 Wagon - 280k mi
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  #69  
Old 02-01-2012, 10:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry_W View Post
Agree with the sentiments expressed about mastering a trade, but be able to do as much as you can learn. Several down side points however. In the world as it is now, it seems that what you CAN do is never as important as a peice of paper that says you passed a test somewhere.
Agreed. I think that the explosion in 'certification-acation' in recent years is pretty ridiculous. What happened to the value of references? What about proving your capability on the spot? At the risk of sounding totally cynical, it seems like people saw money in creating a certification system, they market it to both companies and potential students, and everyone buys into it.

Not to sound like a total Luddite, but what happened to the master + apprentice system? It worked for hundreds of years. Why has it been replaced by passive learning? One of the last remaining independent machinists in town is nearing retirement (~70), and would love a young apprentice to train and take over his shop. Problem is, no kids are interested. Before we know it, finding a craftsman that has mastered a skilled trade will be impossible.

Arg. Sorry. This thread has me all riled up
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-1998 E320 Wagon - 280k mi
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  #70  
Old 02-01-2012, 11:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benhogan View Post
I just have one word......NAFTA.

Ross Perot was right about that 'sucking sound'.
Well that started it. But even Perot didn't envisage the immense whirlwind of suckage that came after Mexico.

Now the Mexicans are looking over their shoulder at the Chinese. The Chinese at the Indians. And the Indians are outsourcing to Africa.

It's a circus of globalization.
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  #71  
Old 02-01-2012, 11:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiefRider View Post
Yeah, definately not my favorite subject. Laid-off 2 years ago. 150 year old company I had been with for 10 years closed its doors. I can tell you with all certainty that you don't want to be over 50 and looking for work.

I had a very nice 560SL that was a casualty of my unemployment. I had a company car which of course is gone. I've been driving my daughter's car, but she is now back at her home in Iowa. I really don't need all the crap with my 350SD, but at least when it's done I'll sell off the extra parts.
It's truly sad that many of the manufactures in the NW hills have been going under for some time now. I know of one old mill to the south of you that has been converted into condominiums and another factory down the street from that which is almost completely empty. Truly a sad set of circumstances.

I was unemployed when my radiator blew a few years back. I spaced the unemployment checks out as best as possible. Resumes went out everyday and I did a few walk ins as well. Just trying to keep sane during that period of time was the biggest challenge of all.

Fulcrum525 Invades Litchfield County.

Thankfully employment has been steady for me ever since.


The only advice that I can give to anyone out of work is to not give up searching. On the slightly brighter side of things I read in the Courant the other day that the unemployment in CT has been falling for about 4 straight months now. (At least that's a step in the right direction)
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  #72  
Old 02-02-2012, 12:11 AM
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My advice to anyone that is unemployed, is to expand your thinking from "looking for a job" to "looking for work". The days of a long-term, good-paying job are pretty much over (except maybe for government and the government-related jobs... think teaching)

Food for thought:

A person with a job is really self-employed, they just have one customer.
A person with a business controls their own destiny.
An employer-employee relationship is controlled by the government (think minimum wage, discrimination, overtime, workers comp, unlawful termination, payroll taxes, labor board, mandatory breaks, etc)
A contractor relationship is almost no better (the 1099 dilemma)

But a corp-to-corp relationship is a contractual relationship that bypasses all the employee crap (on both sides: businesses hate having to use employees and employees hate having bosses)

A corp-to-corp work relationship is simply two equal entities agreeing
"I agree to do a defined service, at a defined price, under mutually agreeable conditions"

-and-

"I agree to purchase a defined service, at a defined price, under mutually agreeable conditions."
All the "employee" stuff goes away for both parties, and what magically replaces it is a true peer-to-peer relationship between professionals.

Think about becoming a corporation and thinking differently about your relationship to work.

You are a product in a market... whether an employee or corporation.

Just my $ 0.02

Oh, and the two are not mutually exclusive - you can have a job and a corporation.
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  #73  
Old 02-02-2012, 01:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fulcrum525 View Post
It's truly sad that many of the manufactures in the NW hills have been going under for some time now. I know of one old mill to the south of you that has been converted into condominiums and another factory down the street from that which is almost completely empty. Truly a sad set of circumstances.
(Sigh)

After WWII, my dad opened a service station in Watertown CT. He left that and followed his father's lead as a tool and die maker for the rest of his working life. My brothers and I grew up rebuilding vintage tractors, engines, motorcycles etc. often making our own parts and learning the skills needed to accomplish these restorations. My brothers and I all prsued careers in engineering- They have gone on to achieve great things in that field.

I was in the engineering department of the oldest, largest manufacturer in NW CT for many years. This firm is now gone, and the parking lots are desserted save for some isolated office use. I went back to school and graduated summa cum laude, certified to teach. I did that for one year, and could write a book on the dysfunctionality of our public education system. I spent the next 10 years in healthcare sales, and thought I had found a home. Good at what I did, I climbed that company ladder and was sure I would retire from THAT 150 year old firm. Until it was sold, and I was "seperated". That same week, my wife was laid off from her long-time IT position, a victim of outsourcing. We had always been frugal, saving and investing a significant percentage of our earnings. The economy has not been kind regarding that effort.

Fortunately my wife was re-employed after only a few months. I have gone on countless interviews, worked part time to make a few dollars and invested heavily in trying to start my own net-based business, which I am networking my butt off trying to launch. I'm also on hold in the middle of the interview process at yet another firm.

I guess this late night ramble is ultimately about many things. I believe it is a good thing to be skilled in a variety of ways, and to be flexible enough to make that an asset. I believe too, that it is important to be positive about one's self and not get depressed over things you don't control. Lastly, I'm quite certan that this is not the country I grew up in. Years of mis-management have created a world where my own kids are facing a lifetime of the uncertainty I'm just starting to deal with.

I hate even committing this to print, and reserve the right to delete it if it sticks in my craw tomorrow morning!
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  #74  
Old 02-02-2012, 01:07 AM
Fulcrum525's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiefRider View Post
(Sigh)

After WWII, my dad opened a service station in Watertown CT. He left that and followed his father's lead as a tool and die maker for the rest of his working life. My brothers and I grew up rebuilding vintage tractors, engines, motorcycles etc. often making our own parts and learning the skills needed to accomplish these restorations. My brothers and I all prsued careers in engineering- They have gone on to achieve great things in that field.

I was in the engineering department of the oldest, largest manufacturer in NW CT for many years. This firm is now gone, and the parking lots are desserted save for some isolated office use. I went back to school and graduated summa cum laude, certified to teach. I did that for one year, and could write a book on the dysfunctionality of our public education system. I spent the next 10 years in healthcare sales, and thought I had found a home. Good at what I did, I climbed that company ladder and was sure I would retire from THAT 150 year old firm. Until it was sold, and I was "seperated". That same week, my wife was laid off from her long-time IT position, a victim of outsourcing. We had always been frugal, saving and investing a significant percentage of our earnings. The economy has not been kind regarding that effort.

Fortunately my wife was re-employed after only a few months. I have gone on countless interviews, worked part time to make a few dollars and invested heavily in trying to start my own net-based business, which I am networking my butt off trying to launch. I'm also on hold in the middle of the interview process at yet another firm.

I guess this late night ramble is ultimately about many things. I believe it is a good thing to be skilled in a variety of ways, and to be flexible enough to make that an asset. I believe too, that it is important to be positive about one's self and not get depressed over things you don't control. Lastly, I'm quite certan that this is not the country I grew up in. Years of mis-management have created a world where my own kids are facing a lifetime of the uncertainty I'm just starting to deal with.

I hate even committing this to print, and reserve the right to delete it if it sticks in my craw tomorrow morning!
Leave it, sometimes it's good to vent.

Perhaps you could try teaching again? Ok I know, the system is a mess but perhaps you can find some enjoyment in making a difference in the lives of at least a handful of youngsters.
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  #75  
Old 02-02-2012, 03:15 AM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.
Posts: 6,510
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiefRider View Post
(Sigh)

After WWII, my dad opened a service station in Watertown CT. He left that and followed his father's lead as a tool and die maker for the rest of his working life. My brothers and I grew up rebuilding vintage tractors, engines, motorcycles etc. often making our own parts and learning the skills needed to accomplish these restorations. My brothers and I all prsued careers in engineering- They have gone on to achieve great things in that field.

I was in the engineering department of the oldest, largest manufacturer in NW CT for many years. This firm is now gone, and the parking lots are desserted save for some isolated office use. I went back to school and graduated summa cum laude, certified to teach. I did that for one year, and could write a book on the dysfunctionality of our public education system. I spent the next 10 years in healthcare sales, and thought I had found a home. Good at what I did, I climbed that company ladder and was sure I would retire from THAT 150 year old firm. Until it was sold, and I was "seperated". That same week, my wife was laid off from her long-time IT position, a victim of outsourcing. We had always been frugal, saving and investing a significant percentage of our earnings. The economy has not been kind regarding that effort.

Fortunately my wife was re-employed after only a few months. I have gone on countless interviews, worked part time to make a few dollars and invested heavily in trying to start my own net-based business, which I am networking my butt off trying to launch. I'm also on hold in the middle of the interview process at yet another firm.

I guess this late night ramble is ultimately about many things. I believe it is a good thing to be skilled in a variety of ways, and to be flexible enough to make that an asset. I believe too, that it is important to be positive about one's self and not get depressed over things you don't control. Lastly, I'm quite certan that this is not the country I grew up in. Years of mis-management have created a world where my own kids are facing a lifetime of the uncertainty I'm just starting to deal with.

I hate even committing this to print, and reserve the right to delete it if it sticks in my craw tomorrow morning!
The current scene is discouraging to many. To me it is always strange how our emotions play out over it. If you landed a decent job tomorrow your outlook would instantly change. I just consider it all part and parcel of the human condition.

Someone mentioned that basically north america has changed and I agree it has. There was not enough understanding and effort to keep the country as a full employment based one as the systems are structured for.

Without a basic full employment mandate the systems will have to change at some point. Right now the very young starting out have a horrific rate of unemployment. With not that much real relief in sight for them.
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