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GM crops are a warning for everyone

DETROIT (AP) – For generations, the career of smart kids around Detroit was to get an engineering economics or business…

DETROIT (AP) – For generations, the career of smart kids around Detroit was to get an engineering economics or business economics and become employed by an automaker or supplier. If you worked hard and did not screw up, you had a job for life with enough money to raise a family, take vacation and buy a cabins in northern Michigan.

Now as a sure way to prosperity seems to be disappearing, as noted by General Motors announcement this week that it plans to postpone 8000 officials over 6000 bluebells.

It was a humble warning that in this time of fast and disturbing technical change with college education is not necessarily isolated from the kind of layoffs that factory workers know too well.

The cuts reflect a transformation going on in both the automotive industry and the wider US economy, with almost all types of companies targeting computers, software and automation.

“This is a big megatrend that permeates the entire economy,” said Mark Muro, a leading colleague at Brookings Institution, who has researched changes caused by digital time. [1

9659002] Cities affected by losses decades ago now break the problem of fewer opportunities for officials such as executives, lawyers, bankers and auditors. Since 2008, The Associated Press has found that about a third of the major US subway areas have lost a greater proportion of officials than jobs. It is a phenomenon seen at places like Wichita, Kansas, with its downsized aviation industry and cities in Wisconsin that have lost auto, industrial machines or furniture manufacturing.

In GM’s case, jobs that will be thrown through buyouts and redundancies are largely held by persons who are experts in the internal combustion engine. Mechanical engineers and others who spent their career are engaged in fuel injectors, transmissions, exhaust systems and other components such as not needed for electric cars that will eventually drive themselves. GM, the country’s largest automaker, says that these vehicles are its future.

“We are talking about highly qualified people who have made a significant investment in their education,” said Marina Whitman, a senior professor of business and public policy at the University of Michigan and a former GM financial director. “Transitions can be extremely painful to a subset of people.”

GM still hires officials, but the new jobs are for those who can write program code, design laser sensors, or develop batteries and other devices for the future

Those thrown out of work must be able to learn new skills if they hope to find new ones job and emphasize what Whitman said is another truism about the new economy: “You have to consider the education as a lifetime process. You will probably have more jobs during your lifetime. You must be flexible.”

Whitman said mechanical engineers are smart people who can transfer their skills to software or batteries, but they need training and it takes time and money.

“Earlier with such changes, eventually new jobs have been created,” she says. “Will it happen this time, or is the change happening too fast so everyone will be absorbed? I do not know. “

Although the workload surprised him and his colleagues, Tracy Lucas, 54, a GM Motor Quality Manager, decided to take buy and change careers. His children are adults and on their own, and with 33 years at GM, he retires and

The purchase also gives him eight months salary, enough time to take his newly earned master’s degree in business administration and look for different jobs. He said he will be happy to leave some sad management tasks behind, but comes missing out on a lot of work to reduce engine claims on claims.

He leaves in part, he says, to save jobs for younger employees. GM received 2,250 officials to take out purchases, and must complete the cuts through terminations.

” I really hate we have to go into the whole process of knocking people on the shoulder, “Lucas said.” I do not think the second wave will be beautiful at all. It will be brutal. “

The power cuts – combined with more coming to Ford, which also makes the transition from personal ownership of gasoline-powered vehicles to rattling and self-propelled electric cars – could prevent the renaissance going on in Detroit, resulting from bankruptcy and a long population decline.

Many of these car industry engineers and managers pull down six-figure salaries, and some may need to move out of the Detroit New Jobs subway.

Brookings Institution Muro is wondering if car companies will bring more electrical engineers and software developers to Michigan or place them in places where such jobs There are clusters, such as San Francisco, Seattle, Boston or near major research universities.

“This is how the regions change and the labor market changes,” Muro says.

GM says it will rent in the Detroit area, but its self-employed labor has grown to over 1,000 at San Francisco’s offices o and Seattle.

Nearly all 8000 pinch cuts will be in the metropolitan area of ​​Detroit, largely at the GM Technical Center of Warren, a suburbs north of the city. This corresponds to approximately 4 percent of the leading and technical jobs in the Detroit-Warren area, according to the Labor Department. Management fees in the area average $ 124,000.

Ford, who just starts his civil servant cuts, has not said how many to go. But even if it’s half of GM’s total, the collapse losses around Detroit will approach them during the financial crisis a decade ago, when the subways ran 14,450 leadership and engineering events. It was 8.9 percent of the types of jobs in the metro areas.

Layouts are likely to be spread to suppliers of auto parts, which do not need to design and build as many parts for gas-powered cars.

While GM says it’s necessary to cut these positions to save money to invest in the new technology. There are possible long-term costs of throwing as many experienced workers in one shot, especially if the switch to electric cars stalls, said Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, a management professor at Brandeis University. If that were to happen, the cuts could leave GM without the vital skills needed.

Even the most skilled officials need to spend less and be prepared to change jobs or places to be employed, says Rick Knoth, a retired GM industrial engineer who survived a cut in 2008 by taking a retirement package after 37 years with the company.

Knoth said he is convinced that most engineers are able to do their skills for a new career. But all officials must be ready for change because it’s coming soon, he said.

“The world is not as it used to be, it’s safe,” he said. “You can not count on anything.”


Corey Williams contributed to this report from Warren, Michigan. Boak reported from Washington. Follow Tom Krisher on Twitter at .

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