Thanks for commenting, Rich. I think the fact that the largest engineering recruitment firm in the US is seeing a spurt in openings for senior engineers--enough so to hire someone to help keep up with the workload--qualifies as a sliver of good news, but I get your point. I'd be interested in your thoughts/recommendations on how mid-career engineers can stay relevant and position themselves in the job market.
So, one recruiter says hiring activity is up, how nice. After nearly 10 years of purging engineers in the US in the hundreds of thousands and the rest of us are experiencing a plateau in salaries, one engineer was hired for $120K. The recruiter calls it “silly money” and does not tell us the education level of this uber engineer who is lavished with enough gold to rival a CEO. I suspect this most rare engineer, who had the amazing “in demand”” needed skills” most likely is not a mere BS, but likely a MS, or even a PHD if the engineer is designing graphical processors. Some graphical processors are currently being used to replace the big boys’ processors in supercomputing and no small feat. Where is this engineer living? Some places to live are not cheap. I can imagine the managers, CEO, and stockholders screaming at this engineer for results that will be the next generation of their products expected to generate tens if not hundreds of millions or more in profits and they wince over $120K. I wonder if this engineer is only working 9-5, M-F? This article, if you read between the lines, is quite dismal for the future of new engineers. The industry is not hiring newbies, but can hire experience engineers at the “same cost”. On one hand, they say engineers go stale after a few years, yet when the price is right, they will take the experienced over the new. With this blatant duplicity of HR thinking going on in the industry, it is no wonder my Alma Mater’s CS program has dropped 75% and EE by 80% over ten years. Play whatever games you want with engineers and their careers, the free market that is so worshipped by the “powers that be”, is working as promised and when the wind changes direction and it is their turn to fall into the grinder, oh well. In 10-20 years, all those unwanted unemployable old (40-60) engineers will be scrapped and all those new smart graduates if they are really that smart, will not have become engineers.
It is good to hear that the demand is increasing for at least a few specialized areas of engineering. Unfortunately in this section of the country, and specifically within 50 miles of where I live, the specialized areas all include one or more of the following: Electric vehicle drive design experience, embedded processors in vehicle systems experience, vehicle CAN-bus expertise, or military systems integration experience. Also, those who are able to combine vehicle infotainment system embedded processor skills with a lot of CAN bus skills have some openings as well. Engineers with other skill sets are invited to not apply. I guess that some of these positions must pay well, but it is not always simple to find out. The part that is obvious is that there are many areas of expertise where there is no advertising for engineers, which probably goes along with all of the form lease and for sale signs on buildings in our industrial areas. The part that is almost funny is that these are the same sort of listings that I have been seeing for over a year. Is it possible the we don't have any engineers with ten years experience designing hybrid motors and motor control modules?
What I really wonder about is the attitude that I see implied in many of the listings, which is that all engineers are the same and that any engineer can do any job because there is no such thing as areas of expertise. I wonder if others have seen that attitude. I would like to know what others think about that.
Of course, the accounting debits and credits don't have a way to assign value to those intangibles, but I agree with you that their value is far greater than people realize.
Even the tangible costs result in some accounting silliness, for example when severance package costs are listed as "one time special charges" in the quarterly financials. After seeing such charges repeated quarter after quarter, you have to wonder how rare and "special" they really are, and whether severance costs are just part of the normal cost of doing business for some companies!
I'd like to see an analysis of how much it costs to rehire and re-train an engineer after a RIF versus keeping an engineer on staff through a down turn. I have to believe that the cost to the company to RIF and rehire, including the intangibles such as loyalty and integration into a company's cultural, is greater than anyone expects.
This short view is one of the side effects of having share holders as a part of the equation.
I'm glad to hear this. After reading articles about some companies hiring high school students and training them, I glad that people realize that experience does have value. In addition, the improved performance from one great experienced engineer vs. multiple cheaper engineers is worth the price of the experienced engineer.
This is good news! The industry has to realize the wisdom of keeping seasoned engineers in their staff to provide leadership skills to younger engineers. There is nothing to replace the experience of industry veterans. A good strategy for mid-career engineers is to get themselves licensed through state board of professional engineers. That is an excellent credential for professional branding of engineering experience and allows engineers to practice consulting independently.
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