The Future of Engineers

2193 WordsSep 19, 20089 Pages
Abstract The employment scene for professionals of all sorts becomes more volatile with each decade. In engineering, graduates of past generations could reasonably look forward to a linear career trajectory characterized by upward mobility and advancement. A typical career back then might allow the graduate to move from strict technical work to creative design work, then on to technical management, and perhaps to general management – often within one firm. In contrast, today’s engineering graduate is being told that a typical work pattern will likely involve six or eight or more major job changes during the working lifetime. What is not being said is that such job changes will often be lateral moves, not career progressions. The hiring…show more content…
The instability of employment for engineers as well as other professionals is a defining characteristic of the breakdown of the implied ‘contract’ between employees and employers. Current day employers seem to feel no compulsion to protect the positions of their skilled and experienced employees when quarterly indices are down, and employees seem to feel no allegiance to their companies, and if even a marginally better job offer comes along, they are inclined to jump ship. This instability in employment continuity appears to be equally true for engineers employed in traditional technical fields, as well as those employed by the broad consulting firms and other non-traditional employers. Taken together, engineering appears less and less attractive as a career path for many qualified students. The new face of job insecurity A few decades ago, during the years of major defense system spending in the United States, the aerospace industry was characterized as an unstable job market for engineers. Major aerospace companies would compete for very large government contracts, and would build up technical staffs to prepare preliminary designs and to show readiness to carry out the work if selected as the prime contractor. Once a purchase decision was made by the procurement agency, the losing bidders would quickly shed the employees involved in

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