The Federal Government releases its Occupational Outlook Handbook for every year and then news sites make the best of it by making silly lists like the 10 top paying jobs for women or the hottest jobs for the next decade.
The WSJ has an article looking at the same issue and I think it makes some good points. Like how recent nursing graduates are not taking over the market like they thought the would. In fact, I'd bet the recession and delayed retirement has had a huge effect across all industries. Journalists keep projecting some mass retirement of our nation's scientists and engineers that has yet to pan out. There's still an overabundance of PhDs given the number of jobs out there. I'd argue of course we need more to be a strong, competing country but that relies on businesses creating these jobs or the government and tax payers deciding it's a priority.
I have more hope for the former case given how well the local fundraising is going to save a planetarium. The author discusses how such facilities inspired him to want to be an astronaut or astronomer growing up and even he is torn on whether money to save the place is worth it. Obviously a bunch of angry parents can put together a facebook page but seem to fail where it comes to shoveling out their own money. And certainly fail, like most places, in allocating more tax tollars to education or science resources. We want it to be there but seem to think someone else can shoulder the burden of making it happen. We want to go into space, but seem to think NASA wastes too much of our tax dollars...so now we won't be going into space (manned) anytime soon. Reminds me of an acquaintance who admitted if there was no helmet law he probably wouldn't wear his while riding his motorcycle. So clearly, we'd kill ourselves if it wasn't for some independent entity, so it's no surprise that entity (the government, or The Man, if you will) needs to be the leading edge of our attempt to boost science. And that's not looking so good in the current climate.
So I got a little off topic and ranty, but one thing in the WSJ journal article that stuck out to me was a quote from a 28 year old who went back to school for a career in filmmaking and will "do whatever it takes to land a job in film photography. It's going to be hard, he says, but it's totally worth it. " And to me that seems like one of the symptoms of the disease of jobs and science funding right now. This kid is absolutely certain that with X amount of effort he will achieve, after a certain point, his goal of Y. But effort, or wanting, does not automatically lead to payoff. "Suffering" through something doesn't mean you will automatically "earn" your payoff. Life has a way of not being fair. If there are only 10 new PhD jobs in some specific field of science, and there are 50 new PhD graduates, there are going to be 40 angry or frustrated people. People who probably put in the same effort as the 10 lucky ones. And when you as a country decide your tax dollars are too high and that you want the government out of your lives so you can go on living the way you please you can't come crying when your planetarium closes or when some unregulated oil platform dumps oil all over your shorelines. It's terrible, but it doesn't matter how hard you work for something. Sometimes it's dumb luck, and you will definitely have to suffer to achieve your goal. But sometimes you won't achieve it anyways. Sometimes working hard and paying what you think is too high of taxes just isn't enough to pay for the planetarium, get astronauts into space, or be an effective watch dog of the banking or offshore oil industries. Something's got to give.