Coined in the late sixties, the term “mechatronics” was simply a combination of the words mechanics and electronics. It reflected the integration of electrical systems and computing into complicated machinery. Fifty years later, the term is used more broadly and encompasses a wide range of disciplines, including automation and robotics. As a multidisciplinary field of study, students enrolled in mechatronics programs study mechanical and electrical engineering, machine learning, coding, and more. This multifaceted education can make those with a mechatronics background particularly appealing to employers from a variety of industries.
A coalition of major oil & gas, power, automotive, fuel cell, and hydrogen companies recently released a “Road Map to a U.S. Hydrogen Economy” that predicts hydrogen from low-carbon sources could provide approximately 14% of the country’s energy needs by 2050. The key phrase here? “Low-carbon.” Currently, 95% of the hydrogen we use is developed using fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas. However, hydrogen itself, when used in a fuel cell, for example, emits exactly zero CO2. Hence the global race to create a carbon neutral Hydrogen Economy.
At present, the process of creating green hydrogen through renewable energy sources and electrolysis is both too expensive and technologically limited to achieve in a scalable way. But energy companies and fuel cell manufacturers are striving to improve that process and simultaneously create the infrastructure that will be necessary to store, transport, and deliver hydrogen to customers. Higher education institutions are also actively involved in research and development of new technologies and applications to advance the hydrogen economy.
Current jobs related to the hydrogen economy generally require advanced education and expertise in fields such as chemistry and engineering. Supply chain and logistics experts are involved as well. Gray’s data show that job postings related to chemistry, engineering, and supply chain and logistics are consistently high, looking at the year-over-year comparison, with a considerable increase to 68,000 in October.
Job Postings related to Engineering and Supply Chain by Month
Associate Degrees Are in Higher Demand, as Employer Awareness of Degree Inflation Increases.
As the student loan debt issue grows, more attention is being paid to degree inflation in the job market. Pragmatically, as unemployment rises, employers need to screen out thousands of applicants. Degree-level is an easy screen, so it is widely used. A January 2021 article from the BBC states that many students who have gone back to school or are in school now “could graduate into a different recruitment environment because, while degree inflation is a problem decades in the making, the pandemic may have opened the door to big changes.” A widely-published 2017 study by the Harvard Business School found that “employers were increasingly inflating the educational requirements for jobs usually held by high school grads. We also found that automated hiring tools excluded applicants with relevant experience simply because they lacked a college degree. In many cases, qualified candidates never even got the chance to apply for a position.”
The “Fauci Effect” refers to the significant bump (nearly 20%) in medical school applications, as reported by admissions officials across the country. The officials attribute the unprecedented rise to the popularity of Anthony Fauci, the director of the NIAID, who essentially became the face of our nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic nearly a year ago.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created logistical nightmares, many of which affected product flow and threw supply chain management into crisis. The pandemic exposed myriad vulnerabilities in supply chains. Companies saw their products trapped upstream due to breakdowns in the chain. Some products were unavailable, others no longer in demand at all. Food spoiled in warehouses and trucks, while grocery store shelves were bare, and warehouses were empty or unsafe. Many companies found themselves unable to handle increased demand for products, necessity for new packaging, safety issues, and so on.
It will come as no surprise that job postings saw a significant decrease in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, with postings falling below 800k from an earlier high of around 1.3mm. What may be surprising, however, is the significant increase in job postings for the month of October 2020. Even with the pandemic seeing new highs in a majority of states, October saw job postings top 1.8mm, which is more than the final two months of 2019 combined.
Graydata, Gray’s job postings database shows that, since reaching a high in January, job postings have declined for four straight months by a total of 43%. April through June, job postings were relatively flat. In July, job postings turned the corner. Job postings rose from 698,628 in June to 770,497 in July, an increase of 71,869 or 10%.
Topics: Job Posting
For several years now, electronic sports, or Esports, has increased in popularity. The 2019 championship for the game “League of Legends,” hosted in South Korea, garnered more viewers than the Super Bowl. It was played in front of 23,000 in-person fans and over 100 million online, compared to the Super Bowl’s 65,000 in-person and 98 million TV viewers. The money is real: the event was backed by major sponsors, such as Mastercard and Nike, over $2.5 million in prize money was awarded, and a collaborative collection with Louis Vuitton was released. The sector was worth $865 million in 2018 and is now worth over $1.3 billion. Esports has become something of a cultural zeitgeist for today’s youth, and higher education institutions are scrambling to address the market potential for academic programs.
Job Skills and the Rebound
The decline in current job postings has slowed significantly – from a 23% drop in March to a 4% decline in May. However, these averages mask wide variations by skill level and state.
Nationwide, lower-skill jobs, those not requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher, declined just 1%, led by increases in retail and service positions. For example, job postings for Customer Service Associates jumped from 89 in April to 3,960 in May. Similarly, postings for Pharmacy Technicians increased 240% from 698 to 2,374.
2020 has not been a good year for internships. As signs of coronavirus began to show in February, job postings for interns dropped by half. In April, they dropped again, by 70%.
Job Postings with “Intern” In Job Title by Month