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The Treadmill of Job and Education
Treadmill of Job and Education
In today’s society, it is nearly impossible to survive without a job. Our need to simply survive dictates the necessity to work so that we may acquire the basic things needed to pay for food, shelter, clothing, and transportation. Additionally, our very existence in the midst of a social framework of community produces the necessity to not only survive, but to thrive and achieve more. Therefore, in order to go from survival to greater achievement, we find ourselves wrapped up in the never-ending race toward self-improvement through greater education in search of not just a job, but a good paying job.
I’ve been looking for a job now for more than four years. The last job I had was working in a factory where I barely made enough income to pay my basic bills and provide for the minimum necessities. When I was laid off from that job, I decided it was time to further my education in order to pursue a new career in information technology.
When I started looking for jobs in the field of my study (software developer) I was highly discouraged in what I found to be the minimum requirements to get a good job. The main focus of employers falls on three primary requirements; Education, Experience and Social Acceptance; that later we won’t discuss in this article as it is a horse of a different color for this conversation.
As I started investigating the minimum educational requirements for a software developer job, I discovered that according to the O*Net Online website, over 75% of these jobs go to people with at least a four year Bachelor's degree (O*Net, 2010). This prompted me to continue what was going to be a two year associate degree program, to a four year degree in Technical Management for Computer Information Systems. Thus starts the beginning of the treadmill of production. As discussed in An invitation to environmental sociology (3rd ed.), in order to achieve a higher level of consumption (better standard of living), I had to increase my level of educational production (higher degree) where the treadmill of production interlocks with the treadmill of consumption (Bell, 2009, p. 69). Furthermore, as a Technical Manager, I will be likely expected to continue my education to a Master’s degree if I want to remain successful in this competative field of work.
The other factor that employers are looking for is the amount of experience one has in the field for which he/she is applying. In most cases, I am finding employers requiring a minimum of 3-5 years (sometimes 10 years) of “on the job” experience. This brings us to a different treadmill of a negative sense; the catch 22 treadmill. In order to get the job, I need at least a few years’ experience. However, in order to get this necessary experience, I need to get a job in the field I want to work. This becomes a treadmill that instead of not being able to get off of, I can’t even get on this treadmill of production. Perhaps, this could be viewed as a “Treadmill of Underproduction” (Bell, 2009, pp. 66-67).
Good Paying Job
As I eluded to before, a “good paying job” can be seen as one in which the job pays enough to advance you forward in your career and more importantly, your social status in the community. In the workforce today, it is not enough to simply go to work each day, do your job, pick up a paycheck, and go home. Modern society require that we continuously improve upon our capital value as a contributor to society. This prompts people to work more, work harder, and increase their education. All of these are treadmills of production. The result of making these treadmills go faster though is a better paying job. This leads to consuming more material goods, (more consumption) and thereby requires a better yet paying job: Now the treadmill is out of control, and you’re about to fall off.
What's more important?
If you had the right opportunities, which endeavor would you pursue?
As you work harder, faster, and more to keep up with the demand of the things you consume, and to maintain your social status, you find the need to continue job advancement. This becomes the only way to make enough income to keep up. So, to get a promotion, your employer requires you to take classes and get certifications, go back to college to get a master’s degree. Eventually, this treadmill of educational production leads to a promotion, better pay, and of course, more consumption to keep up with the expectations people have of a leader. There it goes again, the interlocking cogs of the treadmills of production and consumption.
Will it ever come to an end?
Bell, M. M. (2009). An invitation to environmental sociology (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Pine Forge Press.
O*Net. (2010). Summary report for: 15-1132.00 - Software developers, applications. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from O*Net Online: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1132.00
© 2014 David Covey