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Engineers in Taiwan seek more from work than money

Posted: 01 Oct 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:salary? compensation? r&d? engineer? job?

Reflecting last year's "Salary & Opinion Survey," EE Times - Asia found out that engineers in Taiwan still enjoy one of the highest compensation average compared to engineers in other Asian regions. Although average annual income decreased this year, some engineers still enjoyed salary increases. However, any increase of remuneration compared to that of last year remains low.

Sylvia Lu, HR deputy manager of Realtek Semiconductor Corp. said her company did not institute any layoffs or salary reductions despite the economic recession. Instead, Realtek maintained a policy of offering a 3 percent to 5 percent salary raise. The increase might be a little low, but at least the salaries of engineers are not stagnating--or worse, going down.

Most were not as lucky, however. "Salaries for new engineers did experience reduction in the past couple of years, but this mainly occurred in fields like test, quality management, technical support or marketing," said Vanessa Fu, HR director of Greater China region at 1111 Job Bank.

The economic recession may not be the only factor influencing the deflating rates of the salaries of Taiwan EEs. As manufacturers move part of their production lines to mainland China, more engineers are prone to unfavorable salary adjustments.

Wanted: R&D brains

'Stiff' would be an understatement when describing the state of competition among Taiwan engineers. Even with new graduates from science and engineering schools coming out in tens of thousands every year, there is not enough R&D talent.

"Nowadays, young people aren't willing to do R&D. They prefer positions in marketing, technical support, production line and customer services, because these positions don't need in-depth grasp of technologies and provide higher exposure to the market - therefore the work in those positions are more interesting than that of pure R&D engineers," Fu said.

As a result, engineers who are capable and willing to stay in R&D for a long time are becoming more valuable.

Language proficiency and management capability are the common sought-after skills in an engineer. Owning a patent or being familiar with finance and marketing would strengthen an applicant's chances for being hired. Wendy Chin, responsible for recruitment at TSMC, believes that creativity, emotional quotient (EQ), intelligence quotient (IQ) and adversity quotient (AQ) are even more important in an engineer.

Despite the lackluster increase in compensation and vicious competition in the market, the new generation of Taiwan engineers, however, seems satisfied with their careers. Overall, engineers who expressed satisfaction in their jobs account for 48.8 percent of the survey respondents. This is more than double than those who are unsatisfied (20.2 percent).

This clearly shows that there are more things than financial concerns that an engineer deems important. An engineer's sense of work completion coupled with his company's willingness to invest in instruments and equipment, increased R&D budget and appreciation of the engineer's design work, have surpassed salary as the single biggest source for a sense of achievement.

What matters most

To some engineers, the sense of achievement gained from the successful completion of a project is greater than that from a raise or a promotion. According to Money Chyan, deputy manager of IC design at Silicon Motion Inc., "The biggest source for a sense of achievement is when their designs are valued by the employer."

Chyan said his job satisfaction has improved greatly during the past year, mainly because he is now handling the company's flagship product. For engineers like Chyan, a sense of accomplishment and recognition for their efforts are more important than skyrocketing salaries.

Freedom is also essential. The new generation of engineers put more emphasis on being able to have control of their own lives. Having flexible work hours and a work environment that fosters compromise can be a big morale booster.

As long as semiconductor companies continue to listen to their employees and provide for their needs, Taiwan engineers would continue to be loyal to their companies and not wish to work overseas.

- Mark Isaiah David

(with reports from Joy Teng and Karen Kou of EE Times - Taiwan)

EE Times - Asia

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