As the economy seems to be stable if not moving upward and manufacturing technologies surge forward, job and career issues remain a central issue for design and manufacturing engineers. Last month, moves by a pair of industry groups highlighted the complex issues facing today's technical workers.
The Robotic Industries Association began offering a job search feature, helping workers and employers find each other. That's a pretty simple and straightforward move, acknowledging the growing need for key talent and good jobs.
But the focus on meeting America's need for skilled technical workers over the long term makes this an important announcement. In an era when jobs move offshore and H-1B workers compete for jobs in the U.S., the ability of today's engineers to find jobs has long-range implications.
Students looking at careers need to feel there's a good career path. The high tech layoffs during the dot com crash didn't do much to attract students to a curriculum that's generally considered to be more demanding than marketing and other lucrative fields. America's engineering graduation rate is well below that of many countries.
Days earlier, the National Academies of Science and Engineering and several other major entities called for more open entrance for foreign researchers. That's a particularly interesting stance for the IEEE-USA, which has stated that unemployment for U.S. engineers is linked to the number of H-1B immigrant workers.
But there's no getting away from the fact that while we need to protect U.S. jobs, the nation can benefit from having bright researchers enter the country. Wernher Von Braun came here under unusual circumstances, but the he and his team helped the U.S. build the base that's paid huge benefits.
In today's global society, countries need to move on multiple planes. In one, they must help their own workers find jobs and build a supply of young workers. And they also need to reach around the globe to gather ideas that will help create jobs for the workers of today and tomorrow.