Breaking News
Blog

Engineers in America: Too Young, Too Old

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
<<   <   Page 10 / 12   >   >>
Mbt_#1
User Rank
Freelancer
Re: Bingo!
Mbt_#1   1/10/2014 5:07:32 PM
Well, I am an emgineer in my early 30's, with 10 years of industry experience, and am having a difficult time finding an job.  I fit right in the middle of this category, and am supposedly the missing link.  I am currently employed, but looking for something new.  Everywhere I go I get "We like what you have to offer, but we are looking for someone with more experience."  I'm not sure how I fit into this equation, but I think employers are just being too picky.  They see the downturn as an opportunity to be selective, so they set their sights high - too high, and are surprised when they have a hard time finding someone to fit their "perfect candidate".  In my opinion, they need to choose candidates that match most of their requirements, and work with the new hire to develop the areas they are lacking.  There is no such thing as a purple squirrel!

DMcCunney
User Rank
CEO
Re: Nothing new
DMcCunney   1/10/2014 11:34:21 AM
@Yog-Sothoth: Employers want their folks to work yet more hours to be productive. Yet this was never the plan, we are doing this to compete with far east working practices. Are we just lazy ?

We are all in favor of competition when it benefits us in terms of lower prices and increased choice. We are far less thrilled when we have to compete.

The global economy is increasingly flat.  As a rule, work flows to where it can be done cheapest.  Union efforts and government regulations at best delay the inevitable.  The rise of the Internet means that many technical jobs can actually be done from any location, so there is no requirement to hire someone who lives where the company is located to do the job.

When we buy goods and services, we look for the best deal.  Wages are a business expense, funded by the revenues gained through sales to customers.  Since price is an area in which companies compete, they have a strong incentive to keep labor costs down to be able to offer attractive deals to customers.

So employers, as a rule, will pay only as much as they have to to get the employees they need, will think hard before they add new employees, and may look at reducing headcount to reduce the wage bill.

To command a high salary, one or both of two things must be true: you must either be a scarce commodity - you are one of the few people who actually knows how to do what the employer wants - or you are in an area with high costs of living, and employers in that area must pay more for local workers to provide a living wage.  (Stats I saw a while back had salaries for comparable positions 100% higher in San Jose than in West Virginia, because its cost so much more to live there.)  And being a scarce commodity is transitory.  Today's hot skill set is tomorrow's latest thing to outsource.  You can earn high wages for a time, but cannot expect that state to continue.  All too soon, there will be other people who can do what you do and will be willing to do it cheaper.

The challenge for today's worker is to make themselves worth what they'd like to be paid. Value is relative.  Something is worth what someone else will pay for it, and employers are looking for the best deals just like everyone else.  It doesn't (and shouldn't) mean putting in extreme hours.  It may mean figuring out how to accomplish that much work in the time frame you want to work.  Call it an engineering challenge.

Are we lazy?  Probably not.  But we aren't used to having to compete.

JeffL_2
User Rank
CEO
Re: YOU ARE THE PROBLEM
JeffL_2   1/9/2014 11:36:30 PM
Bert22306,

I agree completely, something changed radically in the way HR is being handled. Of course back when we still had a healthy defense industry it would have been unheard of to even think about "too much" experience! But now not only has that industry been sharply defunded, there's some new thinking along the lines of "manned aircraft are obsolete in modern warfare" and other ideas that are equally premature to be declared completely resolved that COULD tend to render older technologies somewhat less in demand and similarly those who designed in them. But I think perhaps what's been creeping into the more commercial side of the business could be more of an "Asian" approach to human resources and personnel management that I can't completely quantify. Of course the acceptance of these premises also sounds the death knell for corporate support of ideas like "continuous education" and introduces the concept that it's perfectly OK to throw a decent employee on the scrap heap if there's a cheaper (therefore more "acceptable"?) candidate waiting in the wings. This is all of course HORRENDOUSLY shortsighted and will cripple the industry and poison corporate reputations for decades, but I guess it's not that easy to "stop progress", especially when no one is willing to listen to the premise that it really isn't?

Bert22306
User Rank
CEO
Re: YOU ARE THE PROBLEM
Bert22306   1/9/2014 6:52:50 PM
It looks like I didn't complete my thought.

If companies don't take the responsibility to help train young engineering graduates on the job, as they have always done in the past, then these companies have no business complaining that young people are discouraged from enrolling in STEM majors in school. If young grads can't find jobs, what message does that send to kids entering college?

A company looking to hire only engineers in a tight time window of 5 to 10 years experience should figure out that just maybe, other companies are also looking to that narrow window, and consequently they have created their own shortage. "Too young or two old" means that there are many engineers outside a 5-year span of experience? Come now. Doesn't that sound a bit contrived?

MClayton0
User Rank
CEO
Still working at 77...
MClayton0   1/9/2014 6:08:46 PM
While we aging semiconductor engineers are working fewer hours, many of us are still working part time.  The key seems to be to adjust your salary expectations for the reality of globalization in manufacturing, and deregulation of the financial gambling systems (a really great paying job as only quant in the "banking" game?)  I simply kept lowering my expectatations and going to where the work was offered.  And now that can be done from home, via Google Hangouts and high speed data mining.  

The math is quite similar, since automation in manufacturing and in finance have taken us to the point where knowledge workers are either experts at structuring information and data, or experts at predictive modeling of that data. And the CEO's are just good looking well dressed folks that need some quants around to assure their bonus each quarter.  

What used to be called "machine learning algorithms" such as nearest-neighbor or genetic or neural models can be used on streaming sensor data from machines, or on cash flows and options trading and with some hardware (and knowlege on how to use it) high speed trading is much like high speed manufacturing.

What we really need to bring this late 1980's brain drain to its logical conclusion is to automate the bungie-CEO jobs, by simply letting the quants and the customers work more cooperatively, getting the C-suite out of the way.  Just a thought.  Financial Engineering and Semiconductor Engineering require similar skills to great extent (with some specialized but very old physics and some specialized but not only old but flawed econometrics being the only serious difference perhaps.  

My best teacher at Carnegie Tech in 1950's said that the last job to be automated out of existence would be heavy equipment operators, since automation of hand-eye-coordination was more difficult than the management and engineering decision processes given powerful computers.  And I notice that Google is testing out high speed hand-eye coordination, so maybe these overpaid CEO's really have no clothes at all???  Might be an interesting experiment.   Many startups did fine until they were told to hire a CEO.  Maybe its time to finish automating those non-value-added jobs and keeping the quants productive without so many middle men preventing the customer from being served well?   Lean Six Sigma Supply Chain adjusted in real-time by Customer Satisfaction Algorithms?   

 

 

 

Bert22306
User Rank
CEO
Re: YOU ARE THE PROBLEM
Bert22306   1/9/2014 5:15:17 PM
Wow, I totally agree with the "you are the problem" sentiment! Although I apply it at both ends -- to young and older engineer candidates.

Since when have US companies insisted on hiring just a narrow age group of engineers? With just enough experience to land running full tilt, and young enough that they will potentially stay for decades?

It may be true that we need more young people to enroll in STEM majors at universities, but it's equally true that we need corporate managers responsible for hiring people to quit with the excuses already. Tech companies traditionally have hired young kids straight out of school, and then invested perhaps a couple of years in getting these young people to full operating strength.

KB6NU
User Rank
Freelancer
Re: YOU ARE THE PROBLEM
KB6NU   1/9/2014 4:07:21 PM
I'm with Wnderer. Employers are the problem. In the years that I worked as an engineer, only once did I work for a manager who knew what he was doing. And the higher ups? Forget about it. They only cared about themselves, not the company or the engineers that worked for them.

Why is 20 years of experience a bad thing? Companies say that they can't afford to pay these guys, but can they afford not to?

Wnderer
User Rank
CEO
US Age Demographics
Wnderer   1/9/2014 3:20:39 PM
NO RATINGS


US Birth Rate 1934 2004

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Birth_Rate_in_USA_1934-2004.PNG


I wouldn't be surprised if the age demographics of your applicants looked like this.

Yog-Sothoth
User Rank
Freelancer
Re: Nothing new
Yog-Sothoth   1/9/2014 3:11:55 PM
NO RATINGS
Agreed, betajet. I'm not sure what the answer is though...


Employers want their folks to work yet more hours to be productive. Yet this was never the plan, we are doing this to compete with far east working practices. Are we just lazy ?

JeffL_2
User Rank
CEO
Too MUCH??
JeffL_2   1/9/2014 2:55:38 PM
I want to know when Bill Hewlett or Dave Packard ever fired a staff member for having "too much experience"! Hogwash, this is one of two things, it's either an excuse for firing someone whose level of experience would otherwise legitimately qualify them for a raise, or it's a new cloak for that ancient practice of age discrimination applied instead to your own employees. It's also a clear misunderstanding that everyone WANTS to move into management, that if you've been on the technical side for a decade or more you're just "a management candidate who could never cut it" that the corporation would be better off without.

Now I do understand that technologies have a much shorter "half-life" than they used to but this can get carried to extremes. I recall the story of the son of an acquaintance of mine who was hired as a summer intern before he even had a sheepskin to work for a networking outfit that was later acquired by Intel. He THOUGHT he had the "inside line" on a rewarding career, only to be approached by his boss to say that they had to let him go because he was "over the hill"  in his chosen profession - if I recall the story correctly at that point he was all of 26!!

Honestly if you don't have anyone working on the technical side with more than 10 years of experience, in my opinion you're just being condemned to repeat the mistakes of history you never had the opportunity to learn in the first place. I realize not everyone will agree but there HAS to be more to engineering than "early retirement" at 50 (that no one can afford to take anyway), given that HR departments (especially in Silicon Valley) are set up so they never need to interview anyone over that age for an engineering positon so they can't be accused of discriminating in the first place.

<<   <   Page 10 / 12   >   >>
Flash Poll
Like Us on Facebook

Datasheets.com Parts Search

185 million searchable parts
(please enter a part number or hit search to begin)
EE Times on Twitter
EE Times Twitter Feed
Top Comments of the Week