Academic Investment and Engineering Careers Guides

Generation Jobless from CBC

The documentary Generation Jobless from CBC, caused quite a stir recently in university discussion:

… delves into why so many young Canadians are overeducated and underemployed.  The reality is that today’s twenty-something’s are entering  an economy in the throes of a seismic shift where globalization and technology are transforming the workplace. Automation is replacing tens of thousands of jobs at a time.  Companies fixated on the bottom line are outsourcing jobs and wherever possible getting computers to do the work.  Employers are placing a higher premium on experienced workers, unwilling to invest in training new entrants to the workforce……

Another two interesting readings: Speech in University Of Toronto by JD Clark and the Youth Unemployment in Canada: Challenging Conventional Thinking, published by CGA Canada.

ROI for University Degree

In the productive conversation from National Post titled Canada must streamline education to turn degrees into jobs, it sounded an alarm bell:

The overabundance of general degree graduates in Canada has led to dismal underemployment figures, Ms. Bell explains. “What statistics don’t tell you is that the system is churning out more BAs than we can possibly absorb. In fact, OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] ranks Canada as No. 2 in underemployment of youth. Only Spain is ahead at 50%.”

In another conversation titled When does a university degree really pay off, it stated:

Everyone has heard the argument that education begets fortune and career success. But there are countless graduates who have invested tens of thousands of dollars in a university education, only to find themselves starting on a career path that barely covers their loan payments, or lining up with hundreds of other similarly qualified hopefuls for a job. … The question that looms large for many is: When is the return on investment (ROI) worth the effort? … The problem, however, is that education costs more and more, while graduates are getting jobs that pay less and less, Mr. Swail says. “The only things visibly increasing are engineering and medical degrees. Those do pay off. But, overall, society has done a poor job of linking the job market to what higher education is doing. More and more people come out of school asking, ‘What do we do now?’ ”

Engineering degree seems to be a good investment

The WSJ has some public available data mined from PayScale Inc for the past 10 years, and it clearly shows the engineering degrees really worth the investment in general, at least for now. However, there is no 100% certainty in any investment, including an academic degree.

Furthermore, although the ROI is somehow related to the major / subject of degree, it will also depending on the tech skills acquired by the person during years.  There is an interesting post on Business Insider claiming that 30 Tech Skills That Will Instantly Net You A $100,000+ Salary. Another list is the dice high paying skill lists.

How to become an engineer

I am studying engineering and find this ( Engineer Career Guide ) is useful. It is career-focused, rather than course-focused. It can immediately connect you with the job situation in the market. Another non-nonsense ebook is from

Human vs Robots

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee from MIT wrote a wonderful book called Race Against the Machine years ago. The following are the links to the three parts of excerpts:
1. Where Human Workers Can Still Beat Robots (at Least for Now)
2. Why the Massive Wealth of the 1% Could Ruin the Economy
3. Why Workers Are Losing the War Against Machines

One blogger from even argued that,  by that estimation, robots will eventually take over all human jobs, leaving us with nothing to do. This is very bad, says the New York Times’ Paul Krugman ( Robots and Robber Barons ), because that means all wealth will be controlled by the people who own the robots (assuming the machines don’t turn on us and kill us all, of course):

Smart machines may make higher GDP possible, but also reduce the demand for people — including smart people. So we could be looking at a society that grows ever richer, but in which all the gains in wealth accrue to whoever owns the robots.