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It has not evolved into a full blown revolt yet.
But engineers in so-called low-cost Asian locations are sending strong signals to high-tech companies that they do not like the huge gulf between what they earn annually and compensations paid to their counterparts in western locations.
In the latest EE Times Salary and Opinion Survey, a majority of engineers in China and India said they believe their "base salary is not comparable to others in the field with the same qualifications," and said they were looking to change jobs or even seek opportunities outside the profession.
Engineers in North America, Europe and Japan certainly are better compensated and earn several multiples of what their counterparts in China and India make annually.
The EE Times survey shows the mean total compensation for engineers in North America is approximately $116,800 annually, compared with $79,000 for Japanese respondents and $75,400 for Europeans. By contrast, engineers in China and India make about $15,600 and $22,000, per year, respectively. The full survey results will be unveiled on Nov. 30 in EE Times.
High-tech companies have responded by pushing up salaries in Asia but it is unlikely wages will rise fast enough over the next few years to satisfy engineers and other high-tech workers in the region.
This presents a conundrum for an industry that has bet its future on driving down costs by outsourcing manufacturing and even engineering design work to contractors or through locating research and development centers in Asia.
How can the industry resolve this problem and what are the likely implications for employers as engineers in Asia and other lower-cost centers like Eastern Europe demand and receive higher compensations, pushing up costs for the industry? Conversely, will rising salaries in Asia help secure engineering jobs in the West or has the pendulum swung too far? Join the conversation.