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Future of Engineering Demand
4

Future of Engineering Demand

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

What's needed even more are the skilled technicians and high-tech workers who can operate and maintain that technology that we already have and which is being developed by the 'engineers' and scientists of the world.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Digital Factory
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

(OP)
Indeed John agreed!

Greg, I agree it is exaggerated. Although, this is likely not global.

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

I think that the engineers they are talking about are the "skilled technicians and high-tech workers" that JohnRBaker mentions. The universities, as GregLocock states, are going to try and get students into any major they can say is an engineering major. Not a major that will lead to a job that is in demand.

Garth Dreger PE - AZ Phoenix area
As EOR's we should take the responsibility to design our structures to support the components we allow in our design per that industry standards.

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

Well dmnit if the Engineers are worth billions to the economy then pony up some money
to hire them.

Its like I take to the media and cry about a shortage of gasoline because I don't want to
buy gas at the current price.

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

2
Yawn...

Ignore that trash and read this: it's well researched and cites its sources:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/education/the-ste...

You can expect to see one of these "shortage" scares every year, and often more than one a year. It's been happening consistently since the 1930s- it's a very popular myth.

If there were a real shortage, you would see engineering salaries on average rising by 2-3x the cost of living. You would also see the overwhelming majority of engineering grads working as engineers, instead of what we see here in Canada: 30% of engineering grads work as engineers, and the rest aren't all CEOs either. I sincerely hope I live long enough to EVER see such a shortage! In my almost 25 years working as an engineer, I've never seen one. Brief blips in individual industries in specific locations, typically cyclic industries like oil and gas? Sure- certainly seen a few of those. And those who have never seen a down-cycle will think it can go on forever too. Every minor blip of a shortage like that is used as an excuse to flood the market in general terms, and when the shortage collapses, nobody is there to turn the supply taps back off again. Thus has it always been...

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

(OP)
I had forgotten about that article moltenmetal. I remember reading it a few years back.
Thanks for the revival.

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

The "shortage," as suggested above, is due to companies unwilling to pay the market rate; so, there's a shortage of engineers willing to work at a slave's wage.

Additionally, while there may be an abundance of engineers, in general, there's always a lack of GOOD engineers. Our company has a tendency to scarf up engineers wit a modicum of engineering talent and make them project engineers, who are then no longer able to spend time doing real engineering.

TTFN
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Need help writing a question or understanding a reply? forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

Of course I can. I can do anything. I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

As most others say I'd be skeptical of any fundamental general shortage of engineers.

There are shortages of engineers with certain required experience in certain field/specialty's willing to work for a certain wage...

Increasing overall supply of new graduates will likely not directly affect most of the above mentioned real shortages, except perhaps by depressing market value of engineers so addressing the wage issue somewhat.

I saw just yesterday that congress in the US is again trying to expand H1B visa program for immigrant engineers etc. due to the claimed shortage by industry.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

The market for engineers is just like the market for any other professional skill. The salary offered is usually proportional to the value of your skills perceived by the employer. If he is paying you $100/hr, and you are earning him $200 for that same hour of labor, you are giving him excellent value for your cost.

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

It all depends on what you mean by an Engineer. In the UK it covers every thing from a semi-skilled assembly worker to a fully qualified, top line member of the Institute. I suspect the article concerns car mechanics, electricians, welders, plumbers ect as the numbers involved seem huge for a population of 6 million or so.
There is definitely a shortage of people who know what they are doing as we stopped training anyone properly years ago

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

Hence my comment about "skilled technicians and high-tech workers" which can often be the products of a two year community college program or vocational school.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Digital Factory
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

Maybe in some communities there is a shortage. After all I would not want to work in those communities, unless I was paid much more than what they are offering.

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

2
The UK's IMechE rag last month (Professional Engineering) ran an editorial containing this text on the subject of skills shortages:

"The industry was guilty of taking its eye off the ball for a long period when it comes to training. Just look at all the apprenticeship and graduate recruitment schemes that were deemed too expensive in the 1980s and 1990s, and quietly shelved. Firms began to rely on poaching suitable candidates that had been trained elsewhere. It was easier to moan about skills shortages, rather than contribute to a solution themselves."

I was one of those people who benefitted from one of these expensive 1980's schemes. I recall asking my first HR manager what the company got out of spending all this money on us, with no promise of anything coming out of it. He replied that it was the cheapest way to get good engineers.

- Steve

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

The UK's engineering preparatory system was astoundingly good- sad to hear it fell by the wayside. Same is true of my uni, which has a mandatory co-op program (very good, essential in my view to the education of a decent engineer), but also once had a lot of faculty with significant industrial experience. No more- they're all academic pinheads now, which is the only way they can be qualified under the publish or perish research funding regime that determines whether or not they're good candidates for faculty positions. Some are very earnest and try very hard, but most are teaching engineering training stuff like sizing and selection etc. from a textbook or someone else's notes.

But you've hit the nail on the head- the b*tching about shortages and "lack of skills" is as a result of the firms' finding themselves short of people with 10 years of applicable relevant experience that those same firms didn't hire ten years ago as fresh grads. Someone with ten years of related experience isn't considered qualified, nor is somebody with 30 years of experience, much less a fresh grad...No way to fix that, folks, aside from hiring young people as interns/co-ops, training them, picking the best ones and hiring them, and then training them on the job. But that's not desirable for some firms because a) it takes effort, b) you need to pay them well so they stick around for long enough to give you a return on your training investment, and c) you need to find people in your senior staff who are both willing and able to train them. We figured it out, and I sincerely hope that some of our competitors don't so we can blow them out of the market.

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

The basic engineering shortage problem comes back to the purple squirrel issue. There are enough candidates out there that a company can post a long list of obtuse requirements and eventually find the perfect-fit candidate. The industry then complains about how long it took to find the perfect-fit candidate, and the basic assumption is that there is an engineering shortage.

I just wish that companies were as diligent in the skill-set of people in the hiring process for managers.

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

What's more interesting is the original question which is where is future demand going to come from. Engineering is kind of this fundamental force in our civilization. Pretty much everything that matters in the last 2000 years has been a function of the creation of some technology or the other. The question is what's next? The internet has been huge, as has oil and gas. Both of those things will probably continue for some time at least, but there are my less obvious predictions for the next 10 years:

1. Medical devices focused on low cost care rather than treatment of exotic ailments. Think compact MRI machines that plug into an iPhone.
2. Construction in cities - people are moving out of the suburbs into urban condo highrises
3. Adaptation to global warming - building bridges for bike paths, electric cars, energy efficient buildings, solar plants, solar energy storage.
4. Adaptation to an aging population - building hospitals and nursing homes. Building robots to take care of old folk.
5. Creation of artificial meat - people are increasingly squeemish about intensive farming. Engineers will grow meat in a lab, bypassing the animal.
6. Building toys for the global rich - when the 0.01% have 10% of global wealth, they can afford some nice cars/helicopters/glass stair cases



RE: Future of Engineering Demand

In the UK the utilities, the power generators, rail, steel, mining (we don't do that any more), shipbuilding (nor this), oil & gas, and petrochemicals to name a few have survived for years on the glut of well-trained engineers who were downsized into the private sector when the nationalised industries were privatised in the 1980's. Many of those working in today's HR are too young to realise that the pool of talent they relied upon wasn't being replenished and that within a single generation that pool would pretty much cease to exist. There's a generation virtually missing from the old industries where there should be guys of around my age, but when we were fresh graduates the market was flooded with experienced guys and training us young 'uns would have cut in to profits too much. Now Old Father Time has caught up with the experienced guys of yesteryear, and us young 'uns are going grey.

It is going to get much worse for employers before it gets better, but it is hard to feel much sympathy.

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

Scotty -if that were the case I'd expect to see pay in the UK for experienced engineers rapidly increasing, as employers bid for the decreasing pool of available experienced talent. I must admit i don't keep a close eye on it, but I see very few engineering jobs at 80k pounds, which is roughly parity for me, although house prices would be an issue even then.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Future of Engineering Demand

Hi Greg,

I admit I am commenting from the perspective of employment in the utility and heavy industrial sector; I'm long out of touch with manufacturing.

In my sector we outsource a lot of work to small one-man-band consulting companies, guys who are of retirement age but are supplementing their pensions by continuing to work or who simply enjoy their work enough that they choose to work beyond retirement. Once that work would have been done in-house but today we lack the technical expertise to take it back in-house and it isn't causing a problem right now because the consultants will always be there, won't they? The small consultants have no incentive to pass on their knowledge, and indeed it would work against them. This consultant-based business model isn't sustainable in the long term and that is part of the reason why I think things will get worse before they get better.


Don't assume that house prices in the south-east are representative of the nicer part of the UK further north - you can certainly get a nice house up here on £80k a year, whereas it wouldn't go very far in Surrey or Kent. Not much I can do about the weather though. winky smile

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

While I'm not sure I have any real data to back it, conceptually I'm inclined to agree with Scotty about some sectors living on the glut of folks from the 70's & 80's etc. before some of the industries deregulated/downsized...

Frankly I have a feeling that is true here in the States let alone in the UK where selling of nationalized industries also plays into it.

At least at my employer in the US to get over not really training people up we instead just hire PhD's who did something vaguely related in grad school and have them muddle through. Most of the are H1B so get paid not much more (possibly less) than a bachelors with a couple of years relevant experience would anyway. I fear it may catch up with us in that having a PhD doesn't necessarily mean you have the more applied skills but we'll see.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Future of Engineering Demand

Gaming the H1B system is hardly new; we were (shhhh!!) doing that at a previous company 35 years ago. We would simply list out all the oddball things that the engineer did into the job listing, and, of course, no one but the person in question met all the requirements, and so the H1B application was validated because there was indeed a lack of qualified home-grown personnel.

Even aside from H1B, I doubt that anyone has ever really had a problem dealing with something like a sole source justification to prove that the item you wanted was the only item in the universe that met your needs and requirements. There was a vendor that (in)famously circulated a "lock-out" specification to their customers so that they could justify going to that vendor and bypass certain government procurement regulations.

TTFN
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

Need help writing a question or understanding a reply? forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

Of course I can. I can do anything. I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!

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