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Some Thoughts on Engineering Layoffs

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The 1963 to 1964 layoffs by defense companies affected 30 000 engineers and scientists. A study conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area shows that laid off engineers had not kept in touch with educational institutions; they were willing to move to a different geographical location; and even willing to be retrained " in anything" that could find them a job. Furthermore, these engineers had applied for jobs to 44 companies on the average and were even willing to accept large cuts in their salaries. Could these layoffs have been avoided? Can they be avoided in the future? Diversification of highly defense-oriented firms into commercial products is a must. Liberalization of layoff procedures, in terms of longer advance notice (six months to one year) of pending loss of job, and generous severance pay, is the next step. The present system of forecasting demands for engineers and scientists needs improvements. The idea of 40 hours of work per week needs to be replaced with other concepts such as 32 hours of work and 8 hours of education per week. Extensive research projects to study problems such as transferrability of skills of defense engineers to civilian economy, the mobility patterns of engineers and scientists, etc., need to be sponsored.

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Education, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 2 )