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Baby boomer scientists/engineers about to retire in huge numbers?

by TomServo
Tags: baby, boomer, numbers, retire
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TomServo
#1
Feb17-13, 08:13 AM
P: 178
One thing I've been hearing for years is that *just around the corner* is this huge wave of retirements of baby boomer engineers, scientists, professors, etc., leaving all these open positions to be filled by younger people, and so it makes perfect sense to get a degree in engineering or get a PhD in a science, etc.

However, the baby boomer generation began in 1946, so somebody born in that year is turning 67 this year, so this wave should just be getting underway. But complicating that is the Great Recession and its slow recovery--people aren't retiring they're staying on (they lost a lot of equity), and people who would otherwise retire in the next ten years are instead planning to to work for another twenty. And people forty and under will work until they're in their 80s.

Even if this retirement wave were to be underway now, because of the crappy economy instead of open positions it could just mean a lot of positions are just deleted from the job market once the position holder retires.

What I'm asking is, this idea of a huge swath of open positions in science and engineering doesn't seem like it's going to pan out like everybody says, what say you?
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ZapperZ
#2
Feb17-13, 08:33 AM
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Quote Quote by TomServo View Post
One thing I've been hearing for years......
Who told you that?

Zz.
JakeBrodskyPE
#3
Feb17-13, 11:47 AM
P: 489
Quote Quote by TomServo View Post
What I'm asking is, this idea of a huge swath of open positions in science and engineering doesn't seem like it's going to pan out like everybody says, what say you?
It will happen in these and virtually every other field, not because the boomers are retiring, but because the population growth rate slowed significantly. Where we used to throw people at a problem, we no longer can afford to. For example, plants that used to require staffing 24/7/365 are now running "lights out" for as many as two shifts per day. Modern control systems and communications have reduced the need for someone to be on site to alert others to a problem. Many of those grunt-work jobs that boomers took are no longer as necessary as they used to be. So you won't be seeing that kind of work.

That said, in technical work, I am seeing staff aging. For years our engineering groups, which began with people in their 30s, aged. Now the average ages hovers about 50-something.

I'm not seeing the influx of STEM educated people getting through our HR department. I have my suspicions. Many HR departments take an extremely narrow view of what a job is and what a person needs to know. You have to meet precisely their keywords and experience levels or your resume goes in to the shredder. The end result is that individuals within industry are robbed from one place to another, but new people are not given much chance to advance through companies. And those companies that do allow for such advancement often lose their people to those other employers whose HR people are eager to pay more for the privilege of stealing such people.

So, no, those jobs are not coming your way. Mind you, you're needed by industry, but they've made their own little HR hell that prohibits them from hiring you.

TomServo2
#4
Feb17-13, 01:23 PM
P: 11
Baby boomer scientists/engineers about to retire in huge numbers?

Well Zapper, I hear it all of the time from various sources:

1) The media,
2) Politicians,
3) Industry,
4) Professors,
All of whom have a vested interest in churning out more and more STEM grads or in causing alarm over a STEM shortage, and from:
5) students,
Who want to believe that there will be plum six figure jobs or professorships in their future.
ModusPwnd
#5
Feb17-13, 01:31 PM
P: 1,058
What I'm asking is, this idea of a huge swath of open positions in science and engineering doesn't seem like it's going to pan out like everybody says, what say you?
I agree, its bull for the most part. People want science and technology to be a means of upward mobility. And it is, for the developing world. There is not much reason to pay a scientifically trained worker in the US 60k for a job that thousands oversees can and would do for 10k.
jedishrfu
#6
Feb17-13, 01:36 PM
P: 2,812
what i've been seeing is some PhD folks retiring and returning to work part-time allowing the site to maintain its knowledge and skills while not hiring as many replacements.
Vanadium 50
#7
Feb17-13, 02:44 PM
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Quote Quote by TomServo2 View Post
Well Zapper, I hear it all of the time from various sources:

1) The media,
If it's all the time, you won't have a problem coming up with three or four examples, right?
ZapperZ
#8
Feb17-13, 03:48 PM
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Quote Quote by TomServo2 View Post
Well Zapper, I hear it all of the time from various sources:

1) The media,
2) Politicians,
3) Industry,
4) Professors,
All of whom have a vested interest in churning out more and more STEM grads or in causing alarm over a STEM shortage, and from:
5) students,
Who want to believe that there will be plum six figure jobs or professorships in their future.
So in other words, you didn't exactly get this from a well-research study that based its conclusion from well-founded data. What you got were rumors. I mean, politicians?! Students?!! Seriously?

Sorry, I don't deal with such things, nor would I waste my time on them.

Zz.
0xDEADBEEF
#9
Feb17-13, 05:11 PM
P: 824
If there was a shortage, salaries would go up. They don't so there is no shortage. The shortage is lobbyist propaganda to push down prices - simple as that. This interview might be interesting for you: http://www.qualitydigest.com/print/21092
TomServo2
#10
Feb17-13, 05:57 PM
P: 11
Wow, I certainly didn't expect skepticism or suspicion. I Googled for examples but there were so many, it's simpler for me to suggest you google stories on baby boomer retiring engineers/scientists.
D H
#11
Feb17-13, 05:58 PM
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Quote Quote by TomServo View Post
One thing I've been hearing for years is that *just around the corner* is this huge wave of retirements of baby boomer engineers ...
This certainly has been a key concern at NASA for more than a decade. NASA's Strategic Management Council has rated the potential loss of working knowledge as an agency-level risk item. NASA may be extreme in this regard. From the mid 1970s to the late 1990s NASA didn't hire much, and when they did they tended not to hire fresh-outs. To mitigate this problem, NASA mandated in 2009 that 50% of new hires be fresh-outs.
TomServo2
#12
Feb17-13, 06:01 PM
P: 11
Zapper, I don't think you understand me. I share your skepticism, and it is because of the lack of empirical evidence that I am suspicious.

But you certainly shouldn't be suspicious that people are advancing the idea.

What I was hoping to get were other peoples' opinions on this as it is a notion that I never see anybody challenge.
Vanadium 50
#13
Feb17-13, 06:18 PM
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Quote Quote by TomServo2 View Post
But you certainly shouldn't be suspicious that people are advancing the idea.
Then it won't be difficult to come up with the examples I asked you for, n'est pas?
lisab
#14
Feb17-13, 06:24 PM
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The coming tide of retirements has been widely reported. But here's the rub: unlike many in the generation before them, employees reaching retirement age now tend not to have pensions. And although many lost a lot in the last crash, many didn't -- only because they had not saved enough at that point.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...748707356.html

The median household headed by a person aged 60 to 62 with a 401(k) account has less than one-quarter of what is needed in that account to maintain its standard of living in retirement, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve and analyzed by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College for The Wall Street Journal. Even counting Social Security and any pensions or other savings, most 401(k) participants appear to have insufficient savings. Data from other sources also show big gaps between savings and what people need, and the financial crisis has made things worse.
My opinion: don't count on this supposed wave of retirements to open up a slew of opportunities.
TomServo2
#15
Feb17-13, 06:51 PM
P: 11
http://www.uthsc.edu/allied/mt/docum...er%20Exits.pdf
There's one. I'm honestly a little weirded out by those of you acting like I'm a lunatic making this all up. I'm not advancing this notion, I merely report that others are talking about it, and people react with suspicion? Care to explain why?
StatGuy2000
#16
Feb17-13, 08:22 PM
P: 566
Quote Quote by JakeBrodskyPE View Post
It will happen in these and virtually every other field, not because the boomers are retiring, but because the population growth rate slowed significantly. Where we used to throw people at a problem, we no longer can afford to. For example, plants that used to require staffing 24/7/365 are now running "lights out" for as many as two shifts per day. Modern control systems and communications have reduced the need for someone to be on site to alert others to a problem. Many of those grunt-work jobs that boomers took are no longer as necessary as they used to be. So you won't be seeing that kind of work.

That said, in technical work, I am seeing staff aging. For years our engineering groups, which began with people in their 30s, aged. Now the average ages hovers about 50-something.

I'm not seeing the influx of STEM educated people getting through our HR department. I have my suspicions. Many HR departments take an extremely narrow view of what a job is and what a person needs to know. You have to meet precisely their keywords and experience levels or your resume goes in to the shredder. The end result is that individuals within industry are robbed from one place to another, but new people are not given much chance to advance through companies. And those companies that do allow for such advancement often lose their people to those other employers whose HR people are eager to pay more for the privilege of stealing such people.

So, no, those jobs are not coming your way. Mind you, you're needed by industry, but they've made their own little HR hell that prohibits them from hiring you.
If it is the HR department and their narrow view of what a job is and what a person needs to know that is limiting a firm's ability to hire needed employees, then shouldn't it make sense for such firms to "shake up" their HR departments to ensure that needed positions are filled?
StatGuy2000
#17
Feb17-13, 08:23 PM
P: 566
On the OP's post, if there is a general skepticism about the upcoming retirement of the baby boomer scientists/engineers in huge numbers, and the subsequent opportunities that would open up for new graduates, then what do the rest of you foresee for the job market for a new graduate with a science/engineering background in the US within the next 2 years?
Locrian
#18
Feb17-13, 08:25 PM
P: 1,737
Quote Quote by TomServo2 View Post
I'm honestly a little weirded out by those of you acting like I'm a lunatic making this all up. I'm not advancing this notion, I merely report that others are talking about it, and people react with suspicion?
Weird, isn't it? I went through the same process. Like, 15 years ago I, somehow, came to the belief that there was a "greying" of physicists and that they would soon see a big shortage. It's nonsense, of course, but when I expressed it myself, I got the same reaction you did.

And you got more than just suspicion; at least one response was outright hostile. One would almost think you touched a nerve.


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