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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?

Money matters
First, there is a strong belief within the industry that most employers are leaving positions unfilled in order to keep costs down, thereby squeezing current engineering staff. Engineers in China, Europe, India, Japan and North America are unanimous in their belief that employers are operating with fewer than the minimum number of engineers the business would seem to require, leaving many EEs with no option but to seek new opportunities.

Compensation across the industry is also considered uneven, with a majority of respondents in China and India believing their "base salary is not comparable to others in the field with the same qualifications." This finding has significant implications for the industry. Companies have generally moved design and manufacturing functions to so-called lower-cost centers in China and India, primarily to reduce expenses.

As engineers become more aware of what their counterparts in the West earn, the cost advantage offered by China and India will most likely shrink. Even that turn of events, however, might not be sufficient to offset the impact of the massive job migration from Europe and North America to Asia.

Companies wishing to shift experienced engineers from Western locations to Asia might consider tapping Europe-based employees, as those workers appear more willing than their North American counterparts to consider relocating for the right job. More North American engineers than European respondents (43 percent vs. 27 percent) said they believe there are many job opportunities to be found outside their own geographic regions, but only 19 percent of North American respondents expressed a willingness to move, compared with 38 percent of their European counterparts.

Growing dissatisfaction
It likely comes down to money. North American engineers are paid better than their colleagues elsewhere, including those in Europe and Japan. European engineers generally tend to believe their compensation packages are smaller than those of their North American counterparts "in the [same] field with the same qualifications and work experience."

The seeds of salary discontent are germinating faster in Asia than elsewhere. Engineers in China and India, who typically receive lower salaries than Western engineers do, are also less satisfied with engineering as a career, and are generally more open to the idea of changing jobs. Their dissatisfactionand their willingness to switch allegiances and even careers to advance their positionscould well continue to rise as they become more tightly integrated into the global electronics design and supply chain fabric.

Most engineering companies are already aware that salary demands will ratchet up in Asia as the electronics workforce becomes even more integrated globally. Eventually, international companies establishing outposts in the Far East will find themselves writing fatter payroll checks.

- Bolaji Ojo
EE Times


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