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Thread: Analysis of job growth vs. degrees granted

  1. #51
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    And when it comes down to it, getting training or getting a degree is no guarantee of a job. Every college student thinks it is, but a degree is only education and not a job offer. Do colleges sell it as one? You seem to believe that is the case; that there is a promise made of a job after graduation. I am not sure I believe that....
    This is very simple.

    1. It is a fact that college graduates on average make much more than non-college graduates (http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/moneym...ndearnings.htm).

    2. Society as a whole encourages higher education as a means of bettering ones' position in life, based on the above fact.

    3. Therefore, it is reasonable that the vast majority college students are acquiring education with better employment opportunities in mind. It's not a matter of "guarantees", but of statistical probability.

    4. With such being the case, educators have the moral responsibility to stay aprised,, and inform their students, of the job situation (statistical probability) for the major they are pursuing. To do anything less is negligence at best, highway robbery at worst. If these students were your children, would you tell them in no uncertain terms of the reality of the job situation? That's really what it comes down to. Professional honesty.

  2. #52
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    4. With such being the case, educators have the moral responsibility to stay aprised,, and inform their students, of the job situation (statistical probability) for the major they are pursuing. To do anything less is negligence at best, highway robbery at worst. If these students were your children, would you tell them in no uncertain terms of the reality of the job situation? That's really what it comes down to. Professional honesty.
    The problem with this argument is no really knows the probability of you getting a job with a given major. Then even if they did, it doesn't stop students from trying to be the exception. How else do you explain the absurd amount of people pursing psychology degrees?

  3. #53
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post

    4. With such being the case, educators have the moral responsibility to stay aprised,, and inform their students, of the job situation (statistical probability) for the major they are pursuing. To do anything less is negligence at best, highway robbery at worst. If these students were your children, would you tell them in no uncertain terms of the reality of the job situation? That's really what it comes down to. Professional honesty.
    As I said before, the college (you and) I went to have been talking about the difficult job prospects. And while they didn't scream "you're all screwed" during my tenure, they were aware that it is a tough market for an entry level person. Keep in mind that their job is to educate and not act as a job recruiter. As much as they would like to see high unemployment rates, they have little say whether a city or private firm decides to open a new position. Alot of college students are seeing stagnant career opportunities, regardless of major. I see your point; there will be less opportunities in the future even though more students are vying for degrees. It sucks! Even the majority of the for-profit trade schools are a bad bet right now. But what do you suggest?
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

  4. #54
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dw914er View post
    But what do you suggest?
    If I may, we are starting to see signs of an asset bubble in the pricing of education. With diminishing resource availability, everyone is angling for an advantage - the other day the MIL had on something on the teevee that showed parents were holding back their kindergartners for a year so they'd have an advantage. IMHO our societies have no better method for securing resources than college. What that says about our societies notwithstanding, the way we are set up means there is really no other choice. Unless you want to be a homesteader I guess, but planners aren't really part of that group...
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  5. #55
    Check out this editorial from the New York Times

    An Existential Crisis for Law Schools

    Things are pretty bad all over.

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    IMHO our societies have no better method for securing resources than college. What that says about our societies notwithstanding, the way we are set up means there is really no other choice.
    This is the heart of the issue. It has nothing to do with planning per se but rather with higher education in general. All the "safe" degree options no longer result in the jobs like they once did. Part of that has to do with the "safe" degrees being flooded with more students than what the market can bare. This created the situation with laws schools linked above. A law degree isn't bad to pursue but when literally everyone else is doing it, it's no longer such a good idea.

    That's essentially the reason I believe people should go to school for what they're interested in rather than what they perceive will give them the best chance of employment. If you do what everyone else is doing, you may just find yourself in a worse job situation.

  7. #57
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    This is the heart of the issue. It has nothing to do with planning per se but rather with higher education in general. All the "safe" degree options no longer result in the jobs like they once did. Part of that has to do with the "safe" degrees being flooded with more students than what the market can bare. This created the situation with laws schools linked above. A law degree isn't bad to pursue but when literally everyone else is doing it, it's no longer such a good idea.
    I think you raise a good point, but I can't help thinking there is something pernicious about how the higher education institutions (particularly law schools) have taken advantage of this situation. If a law degree has been losing value due to the decreasing earning potential and employment prospects for new JD grads, why has tuition been increasing by factors of 100% since the 1980s? Just because these schools can get away with this money grab doesn't mean they have to, or should, right? Is it right that the law school faculty pay themselves such exorbitant salaries when many of their graduates are suffering under crushing loan payments and dwindling job prospects?

    A lot of higher education institutions have lost sight of their educational mission/purpose in favor of a single-minded focus on profit-seeking, like that of a corporation. They've milked our system of federally-guaranteed student loans for all it's worth in order to hike tuition year after year, to the point where more and more reasonable-minded people are starting to question the value of a college education. This is a absolute disgrace. There's no good reason why higher education has to be so unaffordable.

  8. #58
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    As I understand, the reason business and law schools charge so much is because they're helping subsidize other degree programs. Sure, they're raising prices because they can get away with it but a lot of other degree programs wouldn't exist without it.

    The issue as I see it is whether a degree program / department should exist if it has to be subsidized. That honestly seems like a difficult call to make considering what universities are supposed to be doing.

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    As I understand, the reason business and law schools charge so much is because they're helping subsidize other degree programs. Sure, they're raising prices because they can get away with it but a lot of other degree programs wouldn't exist without it.

    The issue as I see it is whether a degree program / department should exist if it has to be subsidized. That honestly seems like a difficult call to make considering what universities are supposed to be doing.
    Ahem, football teams....

    Athletic budgets are subsidized to keep football teams "viable". Teams in mid-major schools cost millions to the Universities... which a good portion is paid through Tuition and fees.
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  10. #60
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    As I understand, the reason business and law schools charge so much is because they're helping subsidize other degree programs. Sure, they're raising prices because they can get away with it but a lot of other degree programs wouldn't exist without it.

    The issue as I see it is whether a degree program / department should exist if it has to be subsidized. That honestly seems like a difficult call to make considering what universities are supposed to be doing.
    I'm guesing this varies depending on the institutions. I do know that there are a lot of stand-alone law schools where tuition is still insane.

  11. #61
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    Argumentum ad odium?...

    Aside from the slowdowns in the construction industry and state/local government hiring, which obviously have decreased the number of employment opportunities for aspiring planners, I think that there's an as yet unmentioned psychological dimension to the doom and gloom attitude toward planning. Personally, I feel that putting a city planning degree to work for you requires a drive for professional development and self-marketing that a lot of people attracted to the more theoretical/conceptual (especially as explored in an academic setting) side of planning don't necessarily have.

    Obviously one can be quite brilliant but lack basic social skills as far as networking, self-promotion and even personal appearance and body language making them unappealing to prospective employers. As a result, for some, it is preferable (or easier) to simply write off the entire profession as being on it's deathbed or blame others: greedy universities, right wing attackers of planning, etc. The fact is, there is a disconnect between the intellectual inclinations that encourage most of us to get interested in planning and the actual basic skills required to attain professional success. Many easily bridge that gap, but many can't.

    In these cases, tearing down an entire industry/field simply constitutes an attempt at denial and deflection. Some might even go as far as to formulate complex projections regarding future employment prospects that purport to show large-scale decline. I believe these individuals to be willingly and knowingly subjecting themselves to logical fallacy in order to avoid facing tougher questions that might necessitate making protracted and difficult changes to their lives and career paths.

  12. #62
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    I feel that putting a city planning degree to work for you requires a drive for professional development and self-marketing that a lot of people attracted to the more theoretical/conceptual (especially as explored in an academic setting) side of planning don't necessarily have.

    I agree. My current job as a designer was a created after it was already filled by a landscape designer. The advertisement was up, I sent in a digital flash portfolio that I developed over two years, and they hired me because of my portfolio and marketing skills. It's a been a very bumpy ride for me as a planner but I think marketing goes a long long way and a willingness to really push the envelope and think outside of the box. I will be the first to say that I really lucked out this time because I could still be out there interviewing for other jobs, planning and non-planning.

    The fact is, there is a disconnect between the intellectual inclinations that encourage most of us to get interested in planning and the actual basic skills required to attain professional success. Many easily bridge that gap, but many can't.

    Some other post claimed professors/academics are not responsible for students getting jobs/landing interviews. I think they ARE responsible for providing the basic skills needed to be marketable and earn interviews. I just spent most of the day hand-rendering two alternatives for a town center concept over several hundred acres. Did the professor tell me how to color with pencil? Nope. Did the teacher tell me how to design lots properly on a curved road? Nope. I learned this all myself, of I went and had to dig out the right resource to get what I needed. I would like professors to give a detailed short list of all the essential skills needed to do the job when I am in school. I learned design because I am passionate about design (among other things) but sometimes I think professors need to do a better job at preparing us .
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  13. #63
    Quote Originally posted by crummmountain View post
    ...tearing down an entire industry/field simply constitutes an attempt at denial and deflection. Some might even go as far as to formulate complex projections regarding future employment prospects that purport to show large-scale decline. I believe these individuals to be willingly and knowingly subjecting themselves to logical fallacy in order to avoid facing tougher questions that might necessitate making protracted and difficult changes to their lives and career paths.
    Lol,... you know, it's okay to call me out directly. I won't get my feelings hurt too much, I promise.

    But seriously, the estimates in the OP are not at all "complex." I'm merely demonstrating a fact-based counter-argument to the rosy US News-esque long-term planning job picture. What people do with this information is up to them. Ignore it, diffuse it, take it with a grain of salt, take it seriously, add their own spin on it... there's a little of everything as demonstrated in the replies.

    I do not have any solutions to this problem. I don't know how to create more planning jobs, other than to increase public expenditures and bureaucracy. But would that be good for society? Not too sure about that. The least I can do, however, is share this information with students. That's all I intend to do.

    Concerning higher education, costs everywhere are rising, un-connected to inflation. Education has become a commodity, and wildly inflated at that, so I agree with ColoGI 100%. There is very fishy business going on with many universities which have come to resemble businesses more than anything else. It'll be very interesting to see how the numbers I referenced regarding higher lifetime earnings for college graduates will have changed post-Recession. I wholeheartedly agree that college shouldn't be pushed for everyone. There are many fulfilling, well-paying non-college careers out there to be had. The problem for high-school students, however, is knowing which path to follow. That's one of the reasons why Psychology is such a popular major. Not because they all want to go into psychology, but because it's one of the best all-purpose majors out there for numerous subsequent studies or white-collar careers. Urban planning, though, is a very specific major for a very specific career. A lack of job prospects for planners is much more relevant to planning majors than a lack of prospects for psychologists is to psychology majors.

  14. #64
    And I also just wanted to add that I'm very happy to hear such stimulating discussion from everyone here. I think the more professional planners debate and talk about this kind of stuff openly, the more knowledgeable and prepared students will be about their own career choices, and to formulate their own professional identity.

  15. #65
    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    As I understand, the reason business and law schools charge so much is because they're helping subsidize other degree programs. Sure, they're raising prices because they can get away with it but a lot of other degree programs wouldn't exist without it.

    The issue as I see it is whether a degree program / department should exist if it has to be subsidized. That honestly seems like a difficult call to make considering what universities are supposed to be doing.
    No. this does not happen at any school Ive heard of. Every school/department/program has to be more or less self sufficient. Maybe some literature programs subsidize the physics department within a school of arts and sciences, but Ive never heard of cross school subsidies.

  16. #66
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    The fact that there aren't enough planning jobs to go around right now is a product of The Great Recession. We could say the same thing for a number of other fields (look at the legal profession, for example). I'm not ready to assign too much of the blame pie to the planning schools when the primary culprit is economic forces beyond their control.
    The fact that there won't be enough planning jobs to go around through 2020 is a product of... what? I'm not talking about today, the entire scope of this article is over the long-term.

    You want to blame the planning schools? Fine. Then please tell us what's wrong with the PAB accreditation criteria and how out of touch they are with the educational demands of "The New Economy". Your broad generalizations about the "old-school" socialist-leaning programs and the modern "housing-bubble oriented" programs are misinformed and won't cut it...
    Too much generalization, not enough specialization into the quasi-planning sub-fields that students will have to go into. Not enough emphasis on financial planning and management. Too much emphasis on soft-science. Too much emphasis on environment. Not enough value-added services that can survive a "do more with less" employment culture. I've talked about this many, many, many times on this board. Planning is a social science, but it doesn't mean it can't be more practical.
    Last edited by chocolatechip; 18 Jul 2012 at 7:28 PM.

  17. #67
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    This is a very interesting discussion. I'm not a planner, not even by training, but an interested by-stander. I will stick my nose in this discussion, though, on topics that I think I have a perspective on.

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Does anybody here really want to be that employee? Maybe they will finish their degree and maybe they won't. Maybe they will stay in planning and maybe they will change majors to another field. Maybe they will graduate a and find a planning job and maybe they won't. As I said before, so what? Nobody is guaranteed everything they want. Few will get it if they don't pursue it. Don't tell people not to follow their dreams.
    Well said. As a woman in my sixties, I know exactly what this feels like because I was discouraged from pursuing potential careers simply because of my gender when I was in high school and college.

    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Cardinal, I honestly appreciate and agree with what your saying.The thing is, for me, and a lot of others, going to school for a certain degree doesn't constitute a "dream." I chose planning because it was more practical than architecture (or so I thought), and wouldn't take me as long to finish as engineering (for which I needed to make up a lot of math I missed out on during secondary education because I was lazily home-schooled). For a lot of students like I was (first gen college student, out of school for 6 years before pursuing higher education, married, strapped for cash, etc.), a degree is not really a dream. It's a means to better your position in life. So I don't think you can assume that everyone contemplating planning is doing so because it's their dream. I'd bet that more people are interested in the nuts and bolts practicality of the profession, especially in the New Economy (oops! I said it!).

    So that is my perspective. Which is different, I guess, than for someone who has the luxury of thinking in terms of dreams, especially now. (Incidentally, it was enough of a dream for me to actually go to college in the first place.) But what I thought of as a practical choice (almost entirely fueled by housing bubble growth) is now shown to be most unfortunately not, and I don't think it's going to get any better for future planner graduates.
    I've also been there, done that: first high school grad, first college grad, first masters grad in my family on both sides. My major was history, and I've never done anything with it job-wise. It's truly about as "vocational" a major as philosophy. However, I learned to think logically and critically, write well, and speak well in public. I learned to defend my ideas with facts. Going to a large state college helped me develop survival skills I didn't even know I had.

    I turned my history degrees first into a teaching job in private schools, and then with the help of a few night courses at the local state university, I parlayed my education/experience/recent course work into my first IT job. I have been an IT professional 25+ years ... with a history degree.

    PS ... anybody wanna talk 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam coming up in September?


    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    This is very simple.

    1. It is a fact that college graduates on average make much more than non-college graduates (http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/moneym...ndearnings.htm).

    2. Society as a whole encourages higher education as a means of bettering ones' position in life, based on the above fact.

    3. Therefore, it is reasonable that the vast majority college students are acquiring education with better employment opportunities in mind. It's not a matter of "guarantees", but of statistical probability.

    4. With such being the case, educators have the moral responsibility to stay aprised,, and inform their students, of the job situation (statistical probability) for the major they are pursuing. To do anything less is negligence at best, highway robbery at worst. If these students were your children, would you tell them in no uncertain terms of the reality of the job situation? That's really what it comes down to. Professional honesty.
    It's also very likely that there will be significant job growth in sectors/industries over recent college grads' working lifetimes that we cannot even anticipate today. That's the way it has been over my working lifetime, and I see nothing to indicate that won't continue. When I graduated from high school, I didn't really even know what a computer was exactly. Much of the technology we take for granted today only existed in physics/engineering labs in 1968. Geriatrics has expanded expoenentially as we've dramatically increased life expectancy at the same time as the oldest boomers hit old age.

    Moreover, it's very likely that many, if NOT most, college grads will change careers at least once in their working careers. Virtually all will have to get at least some additional education/training in order to keep abreast of changes in their field, even if they stay in their field their entire careers. The days of getting some kind of training and being set "forever" in a career or trade is just NOT viable -- and that includes the people who go to trade schools or community colleges to learn carpentry, plumbing or welding etc. That is the "new" reality.

    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    This is the heart of the issue. It has nothing to do with planning per se but rather with higher education in general. All the "safe" degree options no longer result in the jobs like they once did. Part of that has to do with the "safe" degrees being flooded with more students than what the market can bare. This created the situation with laws schools linked above. A law degree isn't bad to pursue but when literally everyone else is doing it, it's no longer such a good idea.

    That's essentially the reason I believe people should go to school for what they're interested in rather than what they perceive will give them the best chance of employment. If you do what everyone else is doing, you may just find yourself in a worse job situation.
    If you want a "safe" degree these days, you should look to go into math/sciences/engineering/medical fields. Nursing grads, for example, who don't have jobs within weeks of graduation haven't looked very hard. These are where American colleges are NOT graduating enough students to meet the demand. Most of these careers require more commitment to a specific discipline early on in college than do law or business degrees, and their required coursework is seldom "fluff", however.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  18. #68
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    Too much generalization, not enough specialization into the quasi-planning sub-fields that students will have to go into. Not enough emphasis on financial planning and management. Too much emphasis on soft-science. Too much emphasis on environment.

    Environmental science is a soft science compared to physics or chemistry. Environmental planning and environmental science are two different subject areas. Environmental planning is a SPECIALIZED type of planning.


    Planning is a social science, but it doesn't mean it can't be more practical.
    I hear time and time again about engineers, architects, surveyors, and other technical professionals taking over planning projects. At the same time, there are way too many planners complaining that we shouldn't be so technical, we don't need to be licensed because that is what other people do. There are many types of non-generalist/specialized planning that are still non-technical. Plan review, environmental planning, even economic development are not overly math or science heavy as structural engineering, civil engineering, surveying, hydrology, etc. I equate practicality at the same level of precision as the above-mentioned professions. Anything less can be done reasonably well by others. Carving our own wedge of the AEC industry through licensure and restrictive title/practice acts is one way of protecting our livelihood.
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  19. #69
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Environmental science is a soft science compared to physics or chemistry. Environmental planning and environmental science are two different subject areas. Environmental planning is a SPECIALIZED type of planning.
    So is transportation planning, housing/community development, economic development, and GIS. The standard two-year, 48-credit Master's program is pretty specialized as it is. Most programs in fact require a specialization.

    As for an over-emphasis on the environment, that's like criticizing a psychology program for focusing too much on the brain. Planning is inherently about the natural and built environment, is it not?

  20. #70
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    If you want a "safe" degree these days, you should look to go into math/sciences/engineering/medical fields.
    I'd still be careful there. Those degrees might be safer but I currently wouldn't even call them safe. The issue is if you're in the wrong flavor of STEM degree, you'll experience similar problems to everyone else. Often times it's difficult to determine which flavor is best for finding a job since those fields can change so rapidly. Some of those fields are so specialized, it only takes a small change to really alter your employment prospects.

    Accounting and nursing sound like they're a part of the handful of degrees that actually seem safe at the moment. Nursing is difficult to get into due to how competitive nursing programs are. Then accounting is dependent on our complicated tax code. So if that changes, so will the job prospects.

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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    accounting is dependent on our complicated tax code. So if that changes, so will the job prospects.
    By that reasoning, accounting is pretty much a guaranteed job for life At least in the US...

    Based on my MURP class of 2011, the folks with undergrad engineering degrees did far and away the best in the job market (private sector transpo jobs, pretty much the only decent gigs available these days).

    Nothing is guaranteed, but a bachelor's in a quantitative field (engineering, math, computer science, economics) is a much more valuable credential career-wise than non-quantitative majors. The main value of life science bachelors degrees is getting you into med school if your grades are good enough.

    The nursing job market is actually quite tough for new grads these days in California, hard to get hired without experience. There's a whole generation of nurses whose retirement got wrecked in 2008 and are continuing to work.

  22. #72
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by db_peligro View post
    By that reasoning, accounting is pretty much a guaranteed job for life At least in the US...

    Based on my MURP class of 2011, the folks with undergrad engineering degrees did far and away the best in the job market (private sector transpo jobs, pretty much the only decent gigs available these days).

    Nothing is guaranteed, but a bachelor's in a quantitative field (engineering, math, computer science, economics) is a much more valuable credential career-wise than non-quantitative majors. The main value of life science bachelors degrees is getting you into med school if your grades are good enough.

    The nursing job market is actually quite tough for new grads these days in California, hard to get hired without experience. There's a whole generation of nurses whose retirement got wrecked in 2008 and are continuing to work.
    I think the situation is very different in other areas of the country. Any nurse who is willing to work in a hospital in a small/medium metro will find a job in areas like Upstate NY and western/northern PA -- and lots of other places. AFAIK, every community college in NYS that has a nursing program cannot graduate candidates for nursing jobs fast enough. The college where I work graduates 100-150 every May from 2 campuses, and most have multiple job offers. My niece, who graduated three or four years ago from Niagara County Community College near Buffalo, was hired before she even graduated as an LPN and was guaranteed a RN position as soon as she passed her nursing boards (which she did).
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  23. #73
    Quote Originally posted by db_peligro View post
    The nursing job market is actually quite tough for new grads these days in California, hard to get hired without experience. There's a whole generation of nurses whose retirement got wrecked in 2008 and are continuing to work.
    This is true. My wife in an RN, and we witnessed the very edge of "normal" nurse job offers, then the complete halt of new grad jobs, and now the earliest signs of it picking up again. Pretty much every hospital in the state except for rural drug-land hospitals stopped hiring new nurses as all the experienced ones held on to their jobs. Many hospitals are in the red, just like lots of other businesses.

    Nrschmid: Environmental planning and environmental science are two different subject areas. Environmental planning is a SPECIALIZED type of planning.
    Yes, I was employed as an environmental planner, I know its a specialization, and I know its different than environmental science. But in my opinion, climate change, for instance, gets much too much attention as compared to more day-to-day practical stuff like fiscal planning, project funding, and financial management. You need technical stuff in an education if you want a job after graduation--you have to at least hide behind an aura of technicality for better job security, at least as a so-called "knowledge worker." People hire others who can do things they can't, or at least think they can do things they can't. Also, the more technical things can be, the more division of labor there is and more potential for creation of jobs. No wonder the planning profession struggles to prove its value; because the traditional generalist planner doesn't add value that is clear enough for others to recognize. To most of the world, we're obscure bureaucrats, and that's partially our own fault. It doesn't matter if what the world thinks about is true or not. What matters is appearance of value. And our appearance of value isn't clear enough.
    Last edited by chocolatechip; 20 Jul 2012 at 12:50 AM.

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