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EEs stay optimistic despite economic downturn

Posted: 03 Dec 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:engineer salary? economic downturn? outsourcing?

Despite the toll of the past year on the economy in general and tech in particular, most electronics engineers still love their jobs, wish to stay in the field and do not regret their investments in the profession.

In the wake of the worst economic downturn since the Depression, and amid continued increases in outsourcing and offshoring, it wouldn't be surprising to find that engineers have adopted a negative outlook. Yet the average engineer, whether in Asia, Europe or North America, is a fairly contented individual, both personally and professionally, according to the findings of the 2009 EE Times Global Salary & Opinion Survey. Generally, engineers are satisfied with their career choices, future prospects and growth opportunities, despite long days (the typical workweek exceeds 40 hours and can ratchet up to 50 in Japan and India), skeletal staff levels, and rising concerns about job security and compensation.

Engineers are not a monolithic group, of course, and our survey did find that where an engineer is based plays a role in how that person views the industry and his or her place in it. Frankly, however, we expected gloomy responses to prevail when we set out to poll engineers for the latest survey. After all, the world remains in the throes of a nasty economic downturn that, starting in Q3 08, resulted in contraction of the electronics market and the subsequent rationalization of jobs throughout the industry worldwide.

Indeed, thousands of engineering jobs have been lost in the West since the beginning of this year, and while Asian engineers have been somewhat shielded from the fallout of the economic downturn, they are also feeling the heat as companies demand more from employees and clamp down on hiring to stabilize operating margins.

This year, EE Times expanded the annual survey to China and India in acknowledgement of the Asia-Pacific region's expanding industry role. In the years to come, we plan to roll out the survey to engineers in other parts of Asia, including Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan. Engineers in key South American locations, such as Brazil, will also be invited to participate.

Engineering employers worldwide should take heed of the latest survey's findings. Although engineers remain happy about the profession, they have areas of deep concern.

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