How the Professional Class Kills Desire for Decent Employment

I recently started re-reading an old 18th century Chinese satirical novel called 'The Scholars', and I can't help but draw parallels not only between the blatantly corrupt literati of the Qing (or Ch'ing, depending on who you ask) Dynasty and the American Professional Class today, but the insane standards of both that made people waste their entire lives just to live up to them only to die trying or come up short.

In many ways, the examination system described in the novel is quite similar to the rat race people here in America run just so they can have a taste of the middle or upper class lifestyle. And as can be seen today, that's impossible for most.

In my experience, I got 2 degrees. One in Graphics Technology and the other in Database Administration. It's a pretty strange skillset to be sure, but I have managed to do some things with it and apply it to some other things I had no experience with. The problem is that no matter which jobs I apply for, I never get call backs. Why is that? There are two answers for this.

1. Employers in the tech industry expect you to be licensed in programming languages or software programs themselves. What makes this worse is that there are many different types of licenses for said languages and software. And yes, these can cost heaps of money AND you'll be expected to re-certify in a few years, shelling out even more money. To make things even worse, employers are also requiring the ability to drive to multiple locations. If you can't get a license or a car, you're screwed from the get go.

2. When they say something is preferred, they really mean required. Because many tech based areas are so saturated, you can bet your bottom dollar that employers will do all they can to make sure they get the unicorn they're looking for, possibly for little more than minimum wage because the tech industry is one of the worst offenders when it comes to abuse of guest worker programs. Employers will also make YOU pay the costs to even become employed, be it for uniforms, training or anything else you might need. In other words, employers refuse to pay the costs of doing business.

So based on those two things, I have to wonder, what the fuck is the point? Why bother wasting your life trying to be part of a group that does all it can to keep you out from the start?

See ya around,

Aspie

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thanatokephaloides's picture

2. When they say something is preferred, they really mean required.

And when, Cat forbid, someone applies for one of these positions with a less than perfect match, they whine and complain about the time they have to "waste" culling out all us non-unicorns from the incoming flow of applicants.

2. Because many tech based areas are so saturated, you can bet your bottom dollar that employers will do all they can to make sure they get the unicorn they're looking for, possibly for little more than minimum wage because the tech industry is one of the worst offenders when it comes to abuse of guest worker programs.

True statements! But that's true of almost all jobs which pay enough to support their workers in today's America. There are no skills in nationwide, persistent shortage any more. And most skills are thoroughly glutted. There's always someone out there who can do your job as well as you can; and employers make double sure their serfs know it, too.

Employers will also make YOU pay the costs to even become employed, be it for uniforms, training or anything else you might need. In other words, employers refuse to pay the costs of doing business.

True that! Often, it costs more to hold many jobs than those jobs pay. Especially in today's tech. By the time you take out the student loan payments one must incur to qualify, the costs of a reasonably new, insured car, and a dwelling reasonably close to the site, you're lucky to be making minimum wage with what you have left.

Been there, done that.

Sauce that dish with the nearly constant demand for military security clearances, and you have the story of my work life!

Diablo

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"Some members of the government are now investigating opioid pain killers but they are investigating the wrong thing. Despair-masking drugs are not the problem. Despair is."
-- featheredsprite

The Aspie Corner's picture

@thanatokephaloides

There are no skills in nationwide, persistent shortage any more. And most skills are thoroughly glutted. There's always someone out there who can do your job as well as you can; and employers make double sure their serfs know it, too.

Employers keep telling us there aren't enough people graduating with the right skills, which even basic research would tell anyone willing to look into it that the bosses are full of shit.

I'm at a total loss as to what to do at this point.

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Alligator Ed's picture

@The Aspie Corner

Employers keep telling us there aren't enough people graduating with the right skills, which even basic research would tell anyone willing to look into it that the bosses are full of shit.

In medicine, at least as administered in the good ole US, we have this sham called maintenance of certification (MOC) which applies to all clinical disciplines and some (most?) of the non-clinical ones. This is in the discipline in which a person is certified to practice, through one of the accredited Boards of Medical Specialties, must PROVE they are capable to practice their specialty. That requirement is in addition to the required number of continuing medical education (CME) hours each state annually requires to maintain a medical license. These MOC classes ain't cheap. Who receives the fees for such testing? If you said the specialty board requiring such testing, then you win the prize.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

@Alligator Ed I'd have to assume that much at least. Hospitals and insurance companies do spend quite a bit on overhead.

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PriceRip's picture

@The Aspie Corner

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"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Hillbilly Dem's picture

@PriceRip

the sine qua non of corporatist America. The walls of the executive offices in corporate America must certainly be like the walls of the house that spoke in the D. H. Lawrence short story "The Rocking Horse Winner".....'there must be more money, there must be more money.."

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"Just call me Hillbilly Dem(exit)."
-H/T to Wavey Davey

lotlizard's picture

@Hillbilly Dem  
http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/rockwinr.html

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@The Aspie Corner

I'm at a total loss as to what to do at this point

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thanatokephaloides's picture

@The Aspie Corner

Employers keep telling us there aren't enough people graduating with the right skills,

.... while telling their employees the exact opposite. Been there. Pissed me off right royally, too.

the bosses are full of shit.

Which most of us here at c99p know inherently! Smile

I'm at a total loss as to what to do at this point.

You share that with me as well, as we've discussed before.

There's no real fix for this. And the bosses want it that way.

Diablo

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7 users have voted.

"Some members of the government are now investigating opioid pain killers but they are investigating the wrong thing. Despair-masking drugs are not the problem. Despair is."
-- featheredsprite

Daenerys's picture

@The Aspie Corner The so-called hiring managers whinging about how "hiring people is the hardest part of my job". BARF.

I think universal basic income would eliminate some of these issues. Too bad it will never happen here in 'Murica.

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10 users have voted.

Well-behaved women rarely make history.

Aramis Wyler's picture

@Daenerys We need this so badly - looking at how the country is going to deal with automation overtaking jobs in the next 15 years, it is hard to imagine living without it.

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Currently reading: How to Create a Mind - Ray Kurzweil
thanatokephaloides's picture

@Daenerys

I keep hearing commercials for Zip Recruiter. The so-called hiring managers whining about how "hiring people is the hardest part of my job". BARF.

spelling corrected

Ummm, if you're a "hiring" manager, it is your job!

But I'm willing to assume that we're really talking about middle managerial types who have this headache to deal with along with all their other responsibilities. In these cases, what's happening is that the whole position of "hiring manager" or "HR manager" has been eliminated and the duties redistributed among the working middle managers of the business -- usually with no increase in pay or resources for the latter to compensate for the extra duties.

Meanwhile, the essentially un-earned cash flowing upwards to the rarefied ranks of upper management keeps growing ever larger......

Diablo

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4 users have voted.

"Some members of the government are now investigating opioid pain killers but they are investigating the wrong thing. Despair-masking drugs are not the problem. Despair is."
-- featheredsprite

TheOtherMaven's picture

@thanatokephaloides
It's British English for "peevish whining and complaining". https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whinge

It's begun to creep into the American vocabulary courtesy of the Harry Potter books and other popular works by British authors.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

Sister Havana's picture

@thanatokephaloides This, all of this! And let's not forget all the online applications and ATS programs (hi, Taleo) that will reject you right away on technicalities so your resume never even gets to a human. I don't know if anyone here reads Ask A Manager, but there are many, many online application horror stories. My favorite was the one where a hiring manager wondered why they hadn't gotten any resumes for a posted position and discovered that in fact hundreds of people had applied, but none got through because the ATS was set to automatically reject anyone who didn't have a specifically worded title on their resume. (Think something like being rejected because the job title you had is Account Manager and not Western USA Widget and Teapot Account Manager.)

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PriceRip's picture

          In academia there is always an agenda. The agenda is unique to each campus and sometimes unique to each college at a given campus. It is an agenda that is usually dean specific, and occasionally department chair specific. It is very important to understand that this agenda is masterfully secreted within an erudite verbal haze characteristic of the players.

          The new faculty do not seem to be prepared for the culture as it has evolved. It is as though most mentors have not properly facilitated the education of the newer generations of professionals. After getting hired the anointed sycophants are "guided" around the pitfalls while the truly qualified are hamstrung at every juncture.

          Now that I am, after a lifetime, on the outside, I can only provide counsel, I can no longer act. I am not accustomed to being so very powerless in these matters, and this pains me greatly.

          As usual, my observations are from personal experiences and applicable to only those experiences. AKA, your mileage may vary.

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"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Alligator Ed's picture

@PriceRip

It is very important to understand that this agenda is masterfully secreted within an erudite verbal haze characteristic of the players.

I think you meant this:

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Song of the lark's picture

@Alligator Ed with the accompanied complex argot. In a word "gatekeepers" Pay your toll you worthless debt serf! , their constant refrain.

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NCTim's picture

Tomorrow's Open Thread riffs on the same topic.

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“America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.”
― Tennessee Williams

dkmich's picture

they justify all of the H1B visas they get from the government. Employees are on the liability side of the spread sheet. They wouldn't train an employee if their company depended on it. Even when they condescend to partner with the American Job Service, they put together a program for something like a whole 10 people with no commitment to hire.

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gulfgal98's picture

@dkmich I took an early retirement from local government when it was offered because I could see where they were going. They wanted to cut employee costs so they were first trying to cull the herd by pushing out long term (thus more expensive) employees. It was a good thing that I did take the early retirement even though it cost me because within two years, the city began laying off employees for the first time in its history.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~CantStopthe Signal

Aramis Wyler's picture

I got my BS in Applied Computer Science in 2005, but did most of the work from 1996 to 1999. After that I had started working full time, so it took me a few years to actually finish the degree. Because of the time period there and how hard we worked (and failed) to actually become a licensed profession, I am having a hard time responding directly to the point of your post. To that end, I'm going to do this in 3 parts (following this introduction) so that I can avoid sounding deranged.

This may vary by state.
In Pennsylvania, state and federal employees are either managers or union (like AFSCME). This is important because the union contests any non-union position that has only union qualifications, and so entities can't just go take an entry level programmer or DBA position, slap a management label on it, and hire someone for shit salary and bad hours. My union designation is AFSCME IT Generalist 2, though my job title is Applications Engineer. 2 of the 12 people in my group are management (senior DBAs) and the other 10 are union, and it would not be physically possible to hire a non-union programmer. Now, I hear this is different in right-to-work states, where they try to abolish the unions as best they can so that they can treat people like shit, but if anything that would be conspiracy by the government, not the "professional class". If you think you are far too qualified to work in a public institution where the above would apply, well, then I've misinterpreted your stance on elitism.

I am not a professional.
You said the magic word a few times: License! Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers, some variations of Social Worker, these are professions. They have licensing bodies, and are licensed to practice medicine, law, various forms of engineering, etc. That is why they are professions. The word professional is used pretty casually in general, and in almost all circumstances if someone suggested that I was a professional I would simply non and smile, but license, that word has real meaning, and in the 90s there was a serious move in this country to have licensed programmers. To actually make Software Engineering an engineering profession and not a nearly sarcastic title like my own. the IEEE and ACM worked very hard toward this, but the senate wouldn't go for it - any script kiddie can be a programmer if they can convince someone to hire them. The point is, even if the professional class were conspiring against it's would be members, it would not be folks like me conspiring against folks like you. We are not licensed, and for what it's worth and am neither licensed nor certified in any of the 10 computer languages that I am fluent in. Your post raised a lot of hurt feelings with your reference to licensure and profession as I will never have either, despite being exactly in the class of people you are railing against.

Your degrees are very specific.
I remember when I started college - I was going to be a game programmer. It was my dream going up to be working on the big games, and also I dreamed of setting up virtual environments where people could meet and work virtually, because I felt like telepresence was a silly stopgap measure compared to actually working in a virtual environment. These were my first dreams crushed when I started my BS degree, because it turns out that most game programmers don't make any money at all - minimum wage if you're lucky; stock options if you're not. You can always roll the dice and hit it big on a game like the Elder Scrolls series (Obsidian was particularly popular) but for every game like that there are thousands that are free, just so developers can get their names out there. So I made a series of poor decisions regarding what to do for a living (because the last thing I wanted to be was a stuffed shirt in a cubicle). Anyway, I did not become a game developer, but if I did I might hire someone with a graphics degree. I am not suggesting that you were wrong to get one; I say follow your dreams. But the churlish cabal of IT professionals is not conspiring to deny you use of it - it is simply not needed by very many organizations. But a degree in Database Administration, hey, that's a gateway to big money right there, and super useful! Oracle DBAs make 6 figures privately, and less than that in public institutions (the 2 in my group make ~65-70k, and are the only 2 non-union members). A real problem in the IT field though is that it's filled with unusually intelligent and versatile people, and this causes a real problem in small or even medium sized businesses because a business isn't going to hire a dedicated DBA to do high quality work when they can simply assign one of their general purpose technologists to do reasonably good work whenever they have down time. I could devote an entire diary to that last sentence - it is probably the foundation of almost all of the hardship you are suffering.

Anyway, I am sorry both that your having a hard time and because my post here has not been as kind as I'd like. I have such deep seated resentment regarding licensure that I have had a hard time writing anything productive at all. I can't even help you, because I need neither a graphics person nor a DBA. But I promise I am not conspiring against you, and neither are any of my peers. I can tell you though that the on the position statements I write, preferred skills really are preferred. Much more important that the preferred skills themselves is something obvious in the resume that suggests that you're willing and able to learn any of the preferred skills that you do not yet have.

I hope you find work soon.

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Currently reading: How to Create a Mind - Ray Kurzweil
Raggedy Ann's picture

"Preferred Qualifications" mean they already have a person in mind to hire and they are writing the job description to meet that particular person's skill set and have no question why they were hired. It's how my university does it so, not living in a vacuum, I gather most employers do the same thing.

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If you acknowledge it, you can change it.
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tubastuff's picture

The object of a university education is to teach you how to learn. In other words, given the resources, have you been educated well enough in your field that you feel comfortable in your ability to get up to speed in a reasonably short time--and being able to discern what you don't know and need help in learning.

You can bet that when you finally come out of university, you'll end up knowing very little up-to-date relevant information; it's the nature of the field that it moves at near light-speed.

I'm now in my "golden years" or, if you will, my "sunset" of life. The things that I've learned and done would have shocked me 50 years ago. The entire journey has been a real riot and far more than a "job".

Teaching whole courses in Javascript, for example, is hopelessly shortsighted. I once remarked to a younger person that learning new programming languages isn't so bad after your first dozen or so.

Producing script kiddies with a degree is something we'll soon regret, That goes for other educational "disciplines". Teach the student to learn and let him/her do the rest.

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