I’ve recently begun following the blog of high-tech CEO Penny Herscher. The particular post I linked to discusses the need for more engineers in our workforce and makes the additional point that we are recruiting way too few women into the field.
She says, “In Silicon Valley we have one engineering job open for every two engineers that are employed – this means it is hard to find enough qualified workers and so companies move jobs offshore to India and China where they graduate many more engineers than we do. Today we simply do not have enough people trained in the ‘STEM’ areas to staff the technology build up that is happening (STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
When Steve Jobs met with President Obama earlier this year he made this case strongly. From Walter Isaacson’s new biography… “Jobs went on to urge that a way be found to train more American engineers. Apple had 700,000 factory workers employed in China, he said, and that was because it needed 30,000 engineers on-site to support those workers. ‘You can’t find that many in America to hire,’ he said. These factory engineers did not have to be PhDs or geniuses; they simply needed to have basic engineering skills for manufacturing. Tech schools, community colleges, or trade schools could train them. ‘If you could educate those engineers,’ he said, ‘we could move more manufacturing plants here.’ “
She adds, “Technology is an area that is a wonderful example of American leadership. Leadership, innovation and the place where we can say ‘Made in the USA’ with pride. Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook – all are growing, innovative global technology leaders. All are changing the world today in dramatic ways. All are essentially American and all need more engineers. Google and Microsoft both invest heavily in change agents like the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology precisely to change the ratio of men to women in engineering and so produce more qualified engineers to grow their businesses.”
When I was a kid, I was drilled in the idea of education raising the standard of living for all of us. Now, to be honest, I earned a degree, but most of my education came through my own work. Much of the math I know, almost all the electronics, all of the computer science and much more, I learned on my own initiative. I don’t advocate that. Not everyone is strange and rebellious like me. But at least from an early age I caught the teaching about the importance of math and science.
What disappoints me the most about the ensuing 30 years or so is the devaluation of much of education. In far too many situations, a high school diploma means a learning level of about jr. hi in my time; too many BAs haven’t learned as much as we were taught in high school. Where is the rigor? Where is the leadership to motivate kids to stretch, excel and earn some of these crucial skills?
I’m with Penny. We need to work on this.
Bring those jobs to Puerto Rico. We have many unemployeed well-educated, experienced engineers. Many coming from the fading pharmaceutical industry, Others are recent graduates from excellent state and private engineering schools. We share US citizenship and currency and are fluent in english. … and we need those jobs.
My experience is somewhat different. I am a 25 yr+ experienced engineer working in industry. My son is a recent BS ChE grad who cannot find a job. How can I reconcile his experience with people who continue to say "we aren't training enough engineers"? When someone says they can't find engineers, I want to put up my hand and tell them I've got one available.
I have seen a log of job postings in automation and related engineering fields. Everyone is looking for engineers with 2,3, 5 years of experience AND a specific set of skills. They want someone who doesn't need any more training, someone who can do the job on day 1. Something we need to think about is how young people get those first couple of years of experience. How do they get started? Those of us in industry know that new college grads still need training and development.
1 engineer for every 23 workers? Doesn't sound like good engineering to me. Sounds more like a line tech or supervisor. What was Jobs willing to pay for these engineers and the manufacturing facilities? This is a bald face lie. Where are the jobs? American companies and management are stock price driven. This makes labor the greatest single leverage point on improving the bottom line to drive up the stock. They don't want or need to pay higher wages. That is why the factories are in the low cost labor regions of the world! If the American schools are so bad why are they filled with foreign students? What motivation is there for an engineering degree? Go to work in another country? Much more potential ROI with a business degree and focus on management or the stock market.
Everyone dumb CEO in America is trying to outsource engineers to the 3rd world for their cheap labors. Engineers have no values in society, even though we design products to make life better. If I have to start all over again, I would go into the medical field. That's one area that you cannot outsource, engineering is a very poor career choice. It's very easy for trade pub. Editor to promote engineering until they are actually working in this field, it's a cut-throat profession.