Originally posted by: CelticHeathen
Andy Millar's post is very much, if you'll excuse the pun, "on the money", insofar as he confirms (whether intentionally or inadvertently, only he will know) the fact that those with genuine Scientific/Technological aptitude are VERY undervalued in the UK. Yet when one looks at the chronic skills shortages our workforce has, something has to give.
I wouldn't use the word undervalued. The problem is that you have to be hard nosed about who you are competing with. Any company that pays its design engineers more will find that it loses business to overseas companies that can do the same work for less. Quite why this rule hasn't applied so much yet in the finance sector I'm not sure, but even there it's starting.
So the only jobs - of any type - that can pay above average (in the UK) are those where a) the work cannot be carried out offshore and b) there is sufficient money in that industry to pay well. So, for example, some aspects of law pass both these, healthcare often fails on part b, and engineering often fails on part a (and b!). A few years ago builders definitely met a and b, which is why most of the big houses around me are owned by builders; who are considerably less qualifed than I am. But there you go: being a builder would bore me stiff and I don't think I'd be very good at it, so good luck to them.
And coming back to the "undervalued" question, imagine a tiny startup with just a design engineer, a salesman, a financial officer, a market strategist, and a logistics / manufacturing specialist. Which one should be most valued? Answer: none of them. If you took any of them away the venture would fail (and often does).
But there's no point getting upset about it: engineering salaries are certainly not bad, in fact they're pretty average for professional work. Just don't go into it if a huge
salary is what you're after - unless you want to start your own business.
On the other point, whether there actually is a skills shortage or not in graduate engineers at the moment
is very hard to tell. It is certainly hard for new graduates to find work - the problem again is that a graduate engineer without any experience is (sorry!) not much use to an engineering company. The company needs to take a risk on them and spend a couple of years training them up - and sadly in the UK there aren't many companies that are in a position to do this. Closing any potential future skills shortage gap will probably require some sort of investment in training programs to retain graduate engineers in engineering. The political question is whether we want to do this, or whether we just let our engineering move overseas. Perhaps a question for a seperate thread.
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMIhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy
"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert