Sitting down with Dr. Linksz

LAUREN HICKS

The office of Bucks
President James Linksz in
Tyler Hall, an ornate building
of French-Norman architecture
designed to resemble a castle
from the Middle Ages, does
not at first glance appear to be
the domain of a man wellaware
of the trials and challenges
facing today’s college
students as they prepare for the
modern high-tech job market.
Though Tyler Hall may be
nearly 80 years old and located
on the outskirts of the campus,
Linksz is thoroughly involved
with the running of the college
and keeps up to date on everything
concerning the school
and its students.
A major concern of many
Bucks students is the future of
the jobs in the United States.
At a time when the unemployment
rate is over 9 percent and
many college graduates are
having difficulty finding jobs
in their field, students are worried
about whether their academic
success at Bucks will
enable them to find work after
college.
Linksz shares these concerns
and is doing his part to ensure
that Bucks will be able to provide
students with the knowledge
and skills they need to
meet the demands of the
changing job market. So what
kind of jobs are in demand now
and what is Bucks doing to
educate students going into
these careers?
According to Linksz, green
jobs are a rapidly growing
area. “What we’ve seen evolve
is a whole spectrum of jobs” he
said. While some of these jobs
are entirely new jobs, such as
energy auditing, others are new
specialties in long-standing
careers.
Specialty training includes
teaching power engineers how
to build wind turbines or photovoltaics
(which generate
solar power), teaching
mechanics to repair wind turbines
and photovoltaics, teaching
civil engineers how to
design their projects to be
more energy efficient, and
teaching builders how to install
new energy efficient technology.
The training for green jobs is
part of the Green Jobs
Academy. The Green Jobs
Academy partners Bucks with
several companies throughout
the county, including Gamesa,
A.E. Polysilicon, Rohm &
Haas, I.E.C. Chesapeake, and
the Keystone Heritage Group.
Two other rapidly growing
areas are bio-technology and
chem-technology. In recent
years many companies have
come to Bucks County to do
high-level chemistry work.
“For Bucks students that
means there will hopefully be
the opportunity to train for jobs
in these emerging fields”
Linksz said. Bucks already has
a program that will connect to
a bio-tech center for hands-on
training.
Another factor to consider is
the growing use of computers.
“Sometimes an old field takes
on a whole new vision when
you have to include computers”
Linksz said. For example,
the staff of a hospital used to
have to file hard copies of
patient records. Now, these
same employees will need
training to use computer databases.
Because computers are
now a part of everyday life,
more courses are incorporating
them into their curriculum,
whereas before they were usually
only used in separate programs.
“Curriculums change to
merge more programs together,”
he said
Careers in computers are also
changing.While computer programming
is still popular, it is
not as in demand as it was 15
years ago. Now, the growing
focus is on “wireless, gaming,
and animation” careers.
“While some jobs are merging,
others are specializing,”
Linksz said, and Bucks is altering
its courses accordingly,
especially in the medical field.
Now, students looking for a
career in nursing can choose to
become a Licensed Practical
Nurse, a Registered Nurse, or a
Certified Nursing Assistant. In
addition, there are now jobs as
pharmacy technicians, radiological
technicians, and phlebotomists,
all of which were
previously part of other
careers.
So what is the future of the
country’s economy? While
Linksz believes the economy is
improving in general, he warns
that “some jobs that went away
in the past few years will probably
not be recoverable in the
same ways.”
To recover lost jobs will
require learning new skills.
Many Americans might not
like the idea of having to go
back to school to learn new
skills, but fields are changing
and as they change new skills
will be essential. “People need
to be open to retraining.”
The United States is no
longer the single dominant
nation anymore. In a world
where communication between
people from different parts of
the planet is growing increasingly
quick the country is now
“competing on a global level.”
The demand for products at
low cost combined with the
country’s rising minimum
wage has led many companies
to outsource jobs to reduce
costs, with the result being that
the textile, automobile, and
steel industries of the country
have fallen on hard times.
According to Linksz “the
United States has basically lost
its way on all three fronts.”
Over 50 percent of cars driven
in our country are now made
by foreign companies.
That is not to say that these
three industries will disappear
from our country forever.
Many of the foreign companies
that have taken over these
industries have plants in the
United States, so there will still
be jobs in these fields.
However, the people working
in these fields will need to
adapt to changing technology.
Linksz also warns that the
off-shoring of high-tech jobs
will continue. Before, it was
thought that only jobs in fields
like textiles, automotives, and
steel would be out-sourced.
Most white-collar jobs were
viewed as safe bets for students
choosing a major.
That is no longer the case.
“Things we thought couldn’t
be outsourced are moving
overseas” Linksz said. This is
largely due to the increased
communication between countries.
Previously “we created
environments where we
brought together specialists in
one place.” Now the ease of
communication has made it
possible for companies to hire
employees living on the other
side of the planet at a fraction
of the wage an American
would work for.
While it would seem that the
emergence of a global economy
has harmed U.S. workers,
Linksz points out that
Americans can also get jobs
from aboard. For example,
Boeing has been contracted to
build 3,770 airplanes for
China, with the Chinese paying
Boeing $400 billion over the
next two decades.
A major part of the future of
jobs in the United States is
inventing new products.
“We’ve got to keep the innovation
machine percolating
along,” Linksz said, pointing
out that it was innovative
Americans like Bill Gates and
Steve Jobs who invented the
Windows and Macintosh operating
systems, which today are
used worldwide.
Linksz wants students to
know that Bucks will continue
to do its part to prepare them
for the jobs of tomorrow. “We
don’t always know what’s
coming, but the college tries to
stay abreast.”
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