I am not sharing that vision. If engineering school were easy your postulate would be correct. You still need to have the intellect and interest to succeed. It's not like the degree would be handed to them. Even if your idea were true (and I don't think it is) having a ready pool of engineers is never a bad thing. They tend to be pretty good at most anything they try to do.......well except maybe modern dance.
Lance, unless you're purely designing chips, everything else has both hardware and software. Take robotics. You've got analog, digital, software, power, measurements, and host of other components. Robots are cool, not like semiconductors.
"isn't there large incentives for kids to go into engineering?"
If businesses were that forward thinking, they'd create such incentives and that would flod the market with engineers. Oversupply would cause engineering salaries to drop and the businesses would make back their investments and maybe even profit. But, the time for ROI is a minimum four years, more like 10+. Stockholders don't want to wait that long.
Try to remember kids, its a never ending race to the bottom (i.e. the Walmart model). Maximizing profits at every turn. In short, it's modern business and in their lexicon there is no word for "enough".
If the government and industry were serious about fixing this problem, why isn't there large incentives for kids to go into engineering? Partial or total tuition subsidies for example. The promise of a job at graduation. Realistically, we do it for farmers who grow stuff we don't need (e.g. corn). So why not invest in something that helps the future of the country?
I would agree that a big part of the problem is that hardware does not seem sexy enough anymore. The entire semi-conductor field is just not as sexy as it used to be. As it contijnues to become more and more of a commodity it makes it more difficult to sell to the new negeration, and I am not sure I blame them. What would we do in their shoes?
The 25-35 year old engineer is not doing test or semi or embedded. They do Java, Python, database, web front ends and mobile, Android and iOS. That is what the cool kids were doing when they graduated, so that is their expeince.
And therein lies the problem. Hardware isn't cool. Makes we wonder what you call a "tech" job. I read about how NYC is becoming a tech center, but it's all for the programmers you mention here. So what is "tech" anyway?
In some businesses, 10 years experience is considered senior. A software engineer friend in his early 40s is the most senior person in his department by far. He's surrounded by 20-something programmers who work 18 hours a day because they have no family to go home to every night.
We have always been able to find engineers, even if it took longer than expected. It has been rare for us to have anyone turn down an offer, compensation is actually more of an issue for us to retain talent than to bring in new talent.