Essay on The Future of Engineers

2182 Words Sep 29th, 2008 9 Pages
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
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In recent years as many as forty percent of engineering graduates are reported to have taken such positions outside of the traditional technical career paths.

As a result of increased job choices and volatility, engineering graduates are being told by placement officers that they should expect to have as many as six or eight different jobs during their working years, due to instability in the technical job marketplace. What may be unsaid is that such a succession of positions is likely to be characterized by periods of unemployment between them, and that new positions are likely to be lateral moves rather than the upward advancement of past generations. Further aggravating the situation is the irrational basis for job loss and unemployment. In many cases it appears that companies discard experienced engineers after a few years when their knowledge may not be as timely across the board as that of recent graduates, and replace them with recent engineering graduates at starting salary levels. Seniority and experience seem to count for little, and good work offers no protection in such a climate.

These changes have become the mantra for recent curriculum reform and caused tension within engineering education. The need to prepare engineering students to be flexible, versatile and entrepreneurial in order to survive in the

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