It's certainly no secret that many of the most highly skilled people in manufacturing, including drug manufacturing, will be retiring soon. Leaving out the impacts of offshoring, we still hear from some HR departments that companies, including some drug companies, can't easily find recent grads with the skill sets they need. Most kids would rather explore something "cool" (and impossibly competitive) to get into, like music or professional athletics, and, as a result, many of them end up stuck in low level service type jobs, while high paying gold collar jobs remain unfilled. After noticing the thousands of kids lining up in cities across the U.S. to try out for American Idol, Plant Services columnist Joel Leonard asked why more of them weren't pursuing training and positions in "gold collar" jobs. He writes about maintenance (Plant Services is an MRO oriented publication) but perhaps this could apply to many other technical fields, including some life sciences support functions. Joel's even written a few songs about this issue (for MRO), now available in mp3 and as ring tones in a number of different styles including Hip Hop , Skaa, Reggae, and even operatic style (downloads here) Questions: Do kids do this because they saw their trained parents or their parents' peers undervalued, given the layoffs of manufacturing and mid-level technical professionals in so many industries? Do they do this because employment in science (despite the handwringing about the need for more kids to study science) can be insecure or dead end, below that top echelon? Do they do this just because they're kids? (If so, why are kids in other countries pursuing training). Do they do this because their education has been entirely inadequate? Here's Joel's article. But that's not all. Here's the original song-with-powerpoint that started it all, recorded by a local blues band. To download, click here (you'll find the button on the very low right hand corner of the home page). Of course, maintenance folks are needed in drug plants, but please feel free to replace the word "maintenance" with "Sample Prep" "Bioinformatics Tech" or whatever you please.