Friday, February 16, 2018

That's some high-grade horse pucky

From my weekly dose of pain known as a Google Alert for this term "skills gap", this gem in an article titled "US economy faces impending skills gap"
...Pfizer, the pharmaceutical manufacturer, highlights both the demands of the new economy and the shortfalls from the labor force. 
At Pfizer’s 17 manufacturing sites across the country, a low-level technician once followed a set of scripted steps to mix individual batches of medicine. Those batches would be tested in a lab to ensure each dose would meet the company’s standards. 
Today, a technician operates computers that mix and analyze new batches of medicine instantly. The technician who once just needed to follow a recipe now needs to know a little bit about chemistry, biology, data analysis and lab work. 
“The technician role has become much more high tech, in that the operators are monitoring the online data and they are manipulating the control systems and making online decisions based on real-time data,” said Kevin Nepveux, Pfizer’s vice president of global manufacturing services. “That requires a different skill set for the operators.”
Call me a perennial skeptic, but this sounds like baloney.  

9 comments:

  1. On the face it it, I am sure the job has changed and a new skill set is needed. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything and that people cannot be trained to do the job. As it becomes more automated, the decisions probably become more automated. So, your baliney meter is probably working just fine.

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  2. Pfizer could easily find one of the people it laid off to take this job and the person would probably be grateful to continue to work, but the company is too cheap to retrain. What bugs me is that its this crap my parents read and wonder why I dont have a great job at Pfizer!

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    1. What!?!? friend and family don't believe you when you say there aren't any jobs in the pharmaceutical industry for chemists?? The problem must be with YOU!!

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  3. ....said Kevin Nepveux, Pfizer’s vice president of global manufacturing services. “That requires a different skill set for the operators. While it wouldn't be difficult for us to train new workers in those skills, we believe it's cheaper to whine about how difficult it is to obtain skilled workers in hopes that governments will step in to pay for this training so that out executives can continue to enjoy their 7 figure annual bonuses.”

    There, fixed that.

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  4. biotechtoreador is exactly right I think, according to Nepveux the new "high skill" lab tech needs to be able to mix things *and* read QC data, they're still not actually doing it. So yeah that's going to take some experience to get familiar with the equipment, but there's zero reason pfizer couldn't train people.

    This really hits home for me because of how many freaking emails we get from Ian Read telling us how the tax cuts are amazing and giving the company insane amounts of money, so now pfizer can FINALLY become a competitive company (???), and in the same emails say 100% of the money is going to stock buy backs and they aren't investing a dime into the company. Why bother investing in your workforce when the government will pony up.

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  5. I'm not sure this is ENTIRELY horse pucky though. My boss and I are trying to hire another technician for our group and we've had to screen out a TON of people who didn't have the computer skills necessary. The fact is, every step, every part in our factory is logged into a manufacturing database and our technicians need to be able to pull & input data into those databases. I don't think that would have been true 20 years ago.

    Of course, just like Pfizer we could offer more money (if HR would let us) and get more qualified applicants. But that doesn't mean that a computer savvy, associates degree worker isn't a rare commodity right now.

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    1. You'd really like to know whey the companies out there can't train someone who is already on the payroll and prefer to complain about the lack of trained bodies.

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    2. So is this naïveté on HR’s part or something else? How are you supposed to find this person who has extensive computer training, knowledge of chemistry and biology, AND is willing to work for $15/hr?

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  6. This should be the official song of this forum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYO-kVk97js
    Can we make it play whenever the website loads ? :)

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