Sorry, but all this egalitarian rhetoric simply misses the point. What commands higher salaries is what is more difficult to come by. If many people are willing and able to drive a bus, then the remuneration for driving buses tends to be lower. If very few people were willing and able to drive buses, bus drivers would be at the top of the heap.
Unions do distort this simple state of affairs, but in general this model holds. It is very easy to make the case that there are oodles of low-payting jobs that are critical to our safety, health, and well-being. Problem is, if lots of people are capable and willing to do them, they won't command high salaries.
OTOH the bus driver is responsible for the life and safety of everyone on the bus, and everyone in the vehicles the bus is near, and everyone walking where the bus passes. Plus normal people can comprehend this. Engineers like me, on the other hand, do mysterious things to make automated phone systems and robocalls work - things that everybody hates. Add in the vehement anti-intellectual tone of the current populist fervor, and then re-do your math.
That's a shame, because I don't feel respect is necessarily earned through titles or formal education. I have a lot of respect for the role that bus drivers play in the everyday safety of people. Try getting a Class B license and driving a behemoth every day worrying about whether you're going to get suspended or lose your job for clipping a car. The ice cream man may be operating a business and employing as much practical business knowledge as someone with an MBA.
In my life I've known a lot of people with only high school educations, and many have earned my respect.
Just read the Michael Lewis book "Liar's Poker". In it, the innovative people who turned it into Wall Street's leading bond firm never graduated from college. They sought to "professionalize" the company by hiring from "top schools", giving high salaries and way too much responsibility to people who barely understood what they were doing. They got lucky for a while until their luck pretty much ran out.
I agree with Prabhakar. There is absolutely no reason for engineers, especially electronics engineers, to be unemployed. There is plenty of opportunity especially with the proliferation of consumer devices. The wave will only continue with the boom in 4G telecommunications. Corporations themselves are realizing that corporate labs are unproductive and they are reaching out to the larger communication with ideas of open innovation and sponsoring small companies. You see, the problem is the inability to let the entrepreneur in all of us come alive. I will be willing to talk to electronics engineers especially with microelectronics background and systems engineering skills and discuss with them how they could become entrepreneurs by leveraging their existing skills. Please send a message to email@example.com
As members of what Richard Florida would call "Creative Class", engineers in theory do have a capacity and mandate to be creating new jobs instead of looking for them. However, there are limitations to this line of thinking. You can find a slew of articles and debates over the past few years about the broken VC model in semiconductor business: complexity and cost involved surpassed the capacities and resources not of an individual, but of small companies of like minded people as well. The same holds in many other tech fields, which today require corporate behemoths to tackle the size and complexity of problems at hand. Your analogy with medical doctors holds only if you compare an engineer with a small practice MD. If that is what you advocate, we'd never have systems we have today, either in the tech or med fields. So corporate employment for engineers is here to stay, there is no going back to the age of Tesla, Marconi, Edison or Bell.
In my opinion it is the engineers who should be creating new jobs instead of wanting to be hired by someone on a pay packet. Like doctors who have to stand on their own feet right from the start to be successful, engineers have to be prepared to become self starters.
For the comments about different jobs, which certainly does relate to supply and demand, it took me a few years to become the multi-skill set engineer that I am. BUt somebody can be taught how to do a good job sweeping in less than an hour, and master the skill in a week. And in other discussions I hear all about the terrible shortage of engineers, so we must import them. What is in short supply is $17 per hour engineers, who will put up with all kinds of abuse. There is no shortage of good engineers for more money. BUt I still recall all of the postings a while back looking for controls engineers with 7 years experience in using the brand new Siemens programming software. And all of the postings for engineers with years of experience designing hybrid car motor control systems.
One final comment is that there are a lot of potential employers who refuse to even talk to engineers who are out of work. They told me "if you are not presently employed then we are not interested in you". I hope that the supreme court nails them for prejudice and discrimination.
Hi Rich. Thank you for the link. Very interesting article. I can't believe it only costs between $150 to $500 per year to go to Delhi University. No wonder they are inundated with applicants! Also, the Indian Universities are very focused on money making areas of study and leave less lucrative areas of study out of their curriculum.