Rant: Is “Lack of Jobs” Really The Problem?

Is the economy, or lack of jobs, really to blame for people's economic woes? Perhaps there is something more - something college students need to realize.

My editorial calendar originally had a podcast scheduled to go out today, but due to some scheduling issues, I haven’t had a chance to record it yet. Hey, things happen. 🙂 Later this week, I will be starting up something which I think will be pretty fun… and it will last the entire month of August here on this blog. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, the following post is actually one I wrote at the end of 2011. It is a bit of a rant – but still something I believe. It also happens to apply a simple lesson I teach here at the Academy to the regular world of the job market. Enjoy!

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Unemployment is a big news item these days. And a lot of people who are looking for work are chalking up all their difficulties to the bad employment situation.

It is the bad economy… and that’s why there aren’t enough jobs. Right?

Believe it or not, there are companies who WANT to hire people and can’t find anybody qualified enough. For example, the company my wife works for (she’s an engineer) is having a difficult time finding good, qualified engineers to hire.  They have unfulfilled job openings.

So, is the problem really about “lack of jobs”?

Majoring In Art History? There’s Your Problem!

I think a cold, hard truth that many don’t want to acknowledge is that too many people are going to college these days and wasting their time and money on useless degrees.

If somebody went to college and majored in art history, philosophy, music, English lit… or some other liberal art…. well, don’t be surprised when you get out into the real world and can’t find a job. Because you’re not qualified for anything worth a sh*t.

When did college kids lose sight of the fact that, in order to make good money, you have to deliver a real, valuable product to the world?

A REAL product. It doesn’t have to be physical (obviously), but it certainly has to be valuable to others. What you produce has to add value to the lives of other people… so they will pay you.

This should be “Basic Economics 101”, but alas, most kids aren’t even properly trained in that. Instead, they take classes in “gender studies” or psycho-babble.

Supply And Demand – REAL WORLD, Not Stupid Theory

Many people hear the words “supply and demand” and their eyes glaze over. Well, your economics teacher should be fired.

When you have a large supply of something and very little demand, the value is worthless. A large supply of anything brings the value down… because people can just go get it anywhere they want.

On the other hand, when demand is high but supply is limited, value is high.

So, translate this over to what you produce for the world… or what you learn in college.

My wife went to school for chemical engineering. Not a lot of people do that, yet companies need people like that. My wife will never have a problem finding work for as long as she wants it.

On the other hand, if you major in English Lit (for example), what is it you produce that would actually be in demand by others? Pretty much nothing. No demand. And so you’ll end up in the big pool of “general laborers” and, if or when you find a job, chances are it will have nothing to do with what you went to college for.

Or if you major in something that a lot of others major in (like Communications), then you have too much supply. While there are jobs out there for communications majors, there are a LOT of people majoring in general degrees like that. Lots of supply, not enough demand.

See how that works?

Blaming “The Economy” Gets You Nowhere

Sitting around and lamenting unemployment or lack of money isn’t going to solve anything. Blaming “the economy” for not having a job certainly solves nothing. Hell, blame has NEVER solved anything.

Only taking responsible action solves things.

Responsibility isn’t joining your local “Occupy” protest. Responsibility isn’t found in blaming “rich people” or “big corporations”. Responsibility isn’t complaining about government or politicians, or thinking “If we can just vote XXXX out of office, everything will be better”.

The only person who controls your income and job situation is you.

If you want income, you can produce it by providing something valuable to the world. Get trained in something useful and in demand. If you go to college, don’t waste your time with dumb degrees that don’t translate into an in-demand position. And, remember, if you’re willing to major in something hard that not many are willing to do, then you’ll be in demand even more due to limited supply.

Or you can go “Plan B”…

… And start your own business. Maybe even an online one.

Hell, I can even help you with that. 🙂

But, even then, you have to produce and offer something real and valuable in the real world. I teach this to online entrepreneurs all the time. Find the problem and the demand for a solution, then provide it.

It is NO different when it comes to getting a J-O-B.

OK, end rant. Help save a college student by forwarding this to them, if you think they need to read it. 🙂

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Responses

  1. You can have a master in economic geology, have 3 years quality experience like me and simply be born in bad country. Because Europe is now “service based economy” = read we produce NOTHING and outsource EVERYTHING. I tried several times to get abroad, find another job… well, it didnt work. So I run my private business in photography, copywriting and web development.

  2. I get the overall view of what you’re trying to convey, and I agree that students – whether they are in high school, college, or at a later stage in life – need to actively think about, and take action on, “how is the education I’m acquiring going to translate in the real world?”

    I don’t however, think anyone should be discouraged from learning about subject areas that they are passionate about. IMHO, that’s up to the student, his or her educational adviser, and whoever is financially responsible for the education, which is often the parents/guardians. I think when all parties are working towards the same goal, the selection of courses and even majors/minors is not as crucial as (a) how well they do in college, not just in the classroom but in other skill/resume building activities and (b) is the majority of what they’re doing gearing them up for the type of work they desire down the road.

    I think the main takeaway is the reminder that upon completion of any educational program, one needs to have either acquired a new skill, or greatly enhanced a pre-existing one. They also need to be able to set themselves apart in a distinctive and useful way – that’s what will separate them from the rest of the candidate pool in future endeavors!

    1. Yep, definitely. And, as I said to Sharron, there’s a lot to be said for passion. However, in reality, I don’t think most students go into a college major because of a passion. In reality, many of them go in with the viewpoint that merely holding the degree is going to automatically be a job ticket, and they’re trying to find the easiest path to complete college and get it. I think that’s why so many kids are majoring in these liberal arts degrees…. not because they’re passionate about the topic, but because they thought they’d be able to skate through it and still be able to say “Yes, I went to college”. It is those people to whom this article is addressed.

  3. OK so… I’m a qualified electronics technician – but I’m an artist and I make music, just like **% of the world’s population. In 2012 I decided on a change of profession and a change of career. As you well know David, running pcmech.com as you do, and with your technical background; “Once a geek, always a geek.”- and I haven’t lost interest in electronics nor all aspects of computers. But you know what – even though the arts-market is more-than-saturated with wannabe-music-stars I believe I can succeed in this area because I can bring something unique, new, and different to the industry. – I quite honestly, wish I had majored in The Arts and gained qualifications in dramatics etc. – but I had two things that I was good at as a youngster: performing and being a tech-geek. I chose a career in technology. Was that the wrong choice? Maybe, maybe not? – I’m an artist now, an artist with nowhere near the experience/knowledge that I have in technology… But I really think I can pull this off.

    – So the point of all this is that simply because a market is saturated doesn’t by any means make it impossible to succeed in. I’m sure you’ve read a lot about Becky Hill, for example, in my Facebook feed. – 3 years ago she was a school-leaver working part-time as a barmaid in a local pub, while at the same time fronting local unsigned band *The Shaking Trees*. In 2012 she appeared on and competed in The Voice UK. Last week she signed a major record deal with Parlophone, after touring internationally with UK band Rudimental including playing Glastonbury 2013. This week she’s in New York performing with Rudimental.

    It’s not which industry you choose to get involved in, nor your level of qualification which decides upon your success. The BIG thing is your level of dedication, determination, ambition, self-motivation, endurance, and hard-graft. Yes I agree that becoming part of a saturated industry with millions of wannabe-job-applicants doesn’t make things any easier for you as an applicant of whatever type – but it’s giving it your best and going that little bit further which makes all the difference between success and failure.

    1. I don’t disagree, but I also think comparing being an artist to the typical job market is sort of a false comparison.

      If one is personally driven to do something, then by all means, do it.

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