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Electrical Engineer Unemployment Soars; Software Developers' Rate Drops to 2.2% 419

Posted by Soulskill
from the guess-they-built-a-few-too-many-robots dept.
dcblogs writes "The unemployment rate for people at the heart of many tech innovations — electrical engineers — soared in the first quarter of this year to 6.5%. That's nearly double the unemployment rate from last year. The reasons for the spike aren't clear, but the IEEE-USA says the increase is alarming. At the same time, U.S. Labor Dept. data showed that jobs for software developers are on the rise. The unemployment rate for software engineers was 2.2% in the first quarter, down from 2.8% last year. This professional group warns that unemployment rates for engineers could get worse if H-1B visas are increased. The increase in engineering unemployment comes at the same time demand for H-1B visas is up."
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Electrical Engineer Unemployment Soars; Software Developers' Rate Drops to 2.2%

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  • One cause (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:14AM (#43409039) Homepage

    One cause for the lack of demand of electrical engineers is that the hardware design and manufacturing is located to cheaper countries. However this also means that the competence level of the existing engineers declines slowly since they lack the experience from production.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Who needs experience from production when patent trolls can innovate through the creation of patents.

    • Re:One cause (Score:5, Insightful)

      by yope (656090) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:39AM (#43409133)
      I am an electrical engineer, and work in Europe. What I see here, is that the quality of engineers coming out of college or universities is declining at an alarming rate. The knowledge-level about basic subjects is embarrassing to say the least. If this trend is comparable in the US, I can fully understand why US companies prefer to look elsewhere for good engineers. The decline in quality here seems due to the lack of students really interested in electrical engineering and "complicated" studies becoming less popular. Colleges and universities here need to lower the level of "difficulty" to make the curriculum more attractive and gain more students. The result is catastrophic.
      • Re:One cause (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @01:30AM (#43409331)
        Which is more likely: every year past university you've gotten more experienced and knowledgeable and those kids fresh out of uni look worse and worse in comparison to you, or that the kids really aren't as good as they were ten years ago?
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          It is actually the later. Universities have literrally been lowering their entry requirements as they have not gotten enough applicants, the result is a subpar crop of students, yes there is still some good ones, but the overall average quality has dropped significantly.
          • Fixed it for you
            Universities have literally been lowering their entry requirements as they have found they can get more money from more applicants
            • by _KiTA_ (241027)

              Fixed it for you

              Universities have literally been lowering their entry requirements as they have found they can get more money from more applicants

              Not every country has semi and literal for-profit secondary education systems backed up by a predatory student loan system.

            • Re:One cause (Score:4, Insightful)

              by hrvatska (790627) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @07:23AM (#43410667)
              What evidence do you have that more people are applying for entry to engineering programs? It seems to me that your premise is likely only true if universities could be shown to enrolling significantly more engineering students over the years. If the number of people getting engineering degrees is any indication, the information in this article [eetimes.com] would indicate that universities have not significantly increased their engineering school enrollments. If anything they may be enrolling fewer engineering students overall.
        • Both cases.

          1. During university, we used to try and do old exams. The further back we went, the harder the exams got. Trying to do an exam from like 10 years ago was ridiculously hard. Fast forward today as I deal with coop students and see their topics of study... and no doubt they have it easier as well.

          2. Years of experience makes a huge deal. Also the current stock of 'older' workers grew up in the ATT, Bells, Xerox, Nortels... companies which used to have real engineer departments. The amount of over

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          The kids aren't as good as they were ten or twenty years ago.

          I also notice there is a migration about what the fields are. Computer Science now seems to be mostly programming. A lot of electrical engineers are know are doing activities traditionally associated with computer science rather than traditional EE. Ie, EE people doing network protocol design, FPGA programming, and even microcontroller assembler seem to be more common than CS people doing those jobs. I think the definitions have changed since

      • Re:One cause (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @01:45AM (#43409403)

        the quality of engineers coming out of college or universities is declining at an alarming rate.

        Throughout history, every generation has believed their kids were dumber than they were. If you read editorial pages from ten, twenty, fifty years ago, you see the same rants about the world going to hell. Yet all the empirical evidence points to the opposite. Kids are getting smarter [wikipedia.org]. Engineering GRE and EIT scores are rising. There is no evidence that engineering graduates are getting worse, and plenty of evidence that they are getting better.

        • Re:One cause (Score:5, Interesting)

          by thegarbz (1787294) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @04:04AM (#43409997)

          I disagree. I'm living proof you can graduate electrical engineering with honours using copious amounts of Wikipedia. I came out of University knowing nothing and it has been an uphill battle getting where I am now. Most of my colleagues are the same. University is no longer about learning and it's all about getting a piece of paper, then we rely on learning on the job.

          This works well in some cases but I look back at some of the people I studied with and they are unable to get registered professional engineering status as they lack the skills required even several years out of uni.

          That is not the sort of mediocrity our universities should be churning out.

          • Re:One cause (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DrLang21 (900992) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @05:54AM (#43410349)
            How is this any different than it has always been? At the end of the day, only cold hard real world experience is going to make anything you learned in college make any sense. Even when and experienced person changes jobs, it usually takes a good year before they really become useful. This is why I always tell people to take a co-op if they want to go into industry. It annoys me to no end that employers claim they can't find people with with the skills they need. However, this was never really a problem until the Silicon Valley startup trend of hiring only people who have the exact background that they need. Before that, companies had to invest in their workforce. Not only did they expect to train new hires, they also had to keep their veterans current.
          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            It's called being flexible and it's what employers want.

            I used to work with an older EE in his 50s who was really, really good at his job. His stuff was robust and worked as advertised. He tested it properly and understood it fully. Unfortunately it was also 20 years out of date because that is what he learned and stuck to. In some cases it didn't really make any difference - many of the op-amps in use today date back well over 20 or 30 years - but in some cases it really did. He would do complex and expens

          • Re:One cause (Score:5, Interesting)

            by trout007 (975317) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @08:00AM (#43410849)

            I graduated with an ME 20 years ago. Every time there is a new problem I have to relearn the material. Where the education helps is I at least know how to attack the problem even if I have to look up and relearn how to do the analysis.

        • But there IS evidence that students are able to graduate quicker from universities, because the curriculum became easier.

          Average students in the Netherlands (at a polytech university) used to need about 6-7 years to graduate. This was fine, since studying wasn't expensive. Now, our government doesn't want to pay for those "lazy" students anymore, and they need to graduate in 5 years. Also, the universities are paid for each diploma they hand out, so they have an incentive to make sure everybody graduates. F

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Engineering GRE and EIT scores are rising.

          So?

          There is no evidence that engineering graduates are getting worse, and plenty of evidence that they are getting better.

          You haven't provided any, though. Scores improving doesn't tell us anything on its own.

        • Throughout history, every generation has believed their kids were dumber than they were. If you read editorial pages from ten, twenty, fifty years ago, you see the same rants about the world going to hell. Yet all the empirical evidence points to the opposite. Kids are getting smarter [wikipedia.org]. Engineering GRE and EIT scores are rising. There is no evidence that engineering graduates are getting worse, and plenty of evidence that they are getting better.

          My theory as to what is happening is that most Universities are becoming less generalized in their education and are instead becoming more narrowly focused. So if you judge whether a newly graduated engineer is "better" or "worse" based on general knowledge over a wide section of the discipline they might seem worse. If on the other hand you judge them based on their knowledge of whatever their specific area of study is they may seem better.

          I do think there is some truth to the idea that Universities are j

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by crispytwo (1144275)

        The education level across the board seems to be in steady decline here as well (Canada). It was, at one time too, my opinion that the training was the problem, but every so often there has been amazing people come through it as well. Thinking back to when I was in University, there were plenty of 1/2 quality people then too. And to be fair, we had a lot less to work with back then.

        Now that I hire people, I'm looking for those 'gems', which tend to be rare. Then there are the 'experienced' people that don't

        • Re:One cause (Score:4, Interesting)

          by servognome (738846) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @02:18AM (#43409553)
          Don't forget many classes grade on a curve. So the more idiots there are in the class, the better a mediocre student will appear.

          I was an engineering major and there were a couple of people who most felt probably didn't belong, but we didn't care because the majority in class were very intelligent.
          Then one semester I took an introductory astronomy class just out of curiosity. The class average after the first test (multiple choice even), was 55% - and those students would get a "C" because they represented average. I received 115% on that test. After that I realized how low the bar was to get into college.
          So if you think your fellow engineering students are lacking in performance, just imagine how inept those sociology, anthropology, and other non-tech students are.
      • by Casandro (751346)

        Yes, but it's not like there is any demand for good engineers. Companies have learned that it's good enough to just re-package old technology.
        Certain US companies have shown that innovation is not necessary for success.

        Particularly in Germany there's now also a problem of horribly bad management. This leads into anybody who can leave leaving, the rest that stays behind is sub standard and makes even worse decisions increasing the problem.

      • I am an electrical engineer, and work in Europe. What I see here, is that the quality of engineers coming out of college or universities is declining at an alarming rate.

        (Non native english speaker here, so cut me some slack on my awful grammar).

        The same situation also applies here in Brazil. Worse of all, it applies both to engineering and computer science. I've been trying to recruit three junior java developers for over two months, but so far, haven't found a single soul that could:
        * Knows what a Hash Set / Hash Table / Dictionary is.
        * Knows how to use a LEFT JOIN properly.
        * Knows how to explain what Model-view-controller is.

        The salary? About US$ 30000/year, a

        • Non native english speaker here, so cut me some slack on my awful grammar

          Forget it - your English is pretty good, and a helluva lot better than my Portuguese. Besides, it's mostly Americans here, so we don't really care about that foreign English grammar (or don't really know it).

          More to the point, why are you looking for Java developers instead of good programmers? When you say they don't understand "Hash Set / Hash Table / Dictionary", do you mean the Java specific aspect of it or the concept? The Java specific part any decent programmer can learn in short order. The concept

      • You might want to look at applicants coming from universities that cannot turn them away. My university is notoriously overcrowded the first few semesters (with ~4000 students battling over ~500 places), and due to laws they can't turn them away (if you want to study and have a university-entrance diploma (which is really not that hard to get if you have more than a handful brain cells left), you may study here). And of course that also attracts students from abroad where universities have additional requir

        • by TheLink (130905)
          What happens to the people you can't use?

          Also waiting for the "technology will create more new jobs" crowd to chime in ;). There may indeed be more new jobs, but the last I checked dogs can't do those jobs no matter how much training you give them. Would that apply to humans one day?
      • Re:One cause (Score:4, Interesting)

        by solidraven (1633185) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @05:43AM (#43410303)
        As a fairly recent graduate I can say the following about this. Many of my class mates were idiots. Very very big idiots.
        So why do they make it to the last year? Well quite simple, else they're going to shut down the program due to it not having a sufficient quantity of students. There were 8 students planning to finish their EE degree. Another problem is that governments demand a certain quantity of girls. Frankly a lot of girls that started in the first year weren't fit for it but got through anyway simply to avoid punishment due to gender equality laws. Combined with complaints from industry that they don't have enough engineers some schools lower standards sometimes. Luckily I know a couple of professors were (and hopefully still are) fighting that trend. Every time a subject was made easier they made a mandatory subject harder in an attempt to filter out idiots. It worked pretty well, I've seen people get caught on the same subject for years.

        So what have I observed amongst my brethren? Many of them didn't grasp basic analog design at all, they were useless at HDL, and lets not even get started on DSP. Many subjects were scrapped due to lack of funding or interest. It's now automatically assumed by the schools that nobody will ever have to do any integrated analog design. They assume hitting the synthesize button in a random Cadence program will do it all for you. I got really annoyed by that one and after some minor campaigning it did sort of get considered for the next few years. So yeah, things we didn't get include: integrated design (though I followed a few seminars on that subject), SCADA systems, (de)modulator design (was discussed in a theoretical fashion in the assumption that they were smart enough to translate it into a circuit themselves), etc. Of people that graduated in my year it's safe to safe to say that only 2 of us deserved the legal title of engineer. This is also why the other 6 ended up as glorified sales people. That's also the main category where you'll find these guys/girls. It's mainly these people who can't find jobs. There's not much point in hiring an EE, having to pay him/her an EE's paycheck (which I must admit isn't small), and then concluding that they don't know a thing about electronics.

        PS: I know one of my class mates in a masters program had trouble hooking up LEDs to a power supply.
      • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

        One cause for the lack of demand of electrical engineers is that the hardware design and manufacturing is located to cheaper countries

        What I see here, is that the quality of engineers coming out of college or universities is declining at an alarming rate

        Both of you are right, partially.

        The main cause of rising unemployment among the hardware designers (electrical engineers) is that there are _less_ need for new devices

        Compared to the decades pasts (1990's, 2000's) the 2010 decade we see less hardware development

        From circuits to chips to system/devices, there seems to be a decline in new product designs - even in Asia.

        I've been in many Asian countries, from Japan to Taiwan to Korea to Singapore to India to China, the pace of

    • One cause for the lack of demand of electrical engineers is that the hardware design and manufacturing is located to cheaper countries.

      My experience is that outsourcing software doesn't work well because it takes more effort to understand and integrate the work than to just do it yourself. But hardware engineering is different. Hand routing a circuit board, tuning an RF antenna, or designing a gearbox can be very time consuming, but once the work is done the results can be verified very quickly. So I am not surprised that hardware work is moving overseas much more quickly than software.

      • Yeah, the skill level in Asian countries for things like "large scale" RF design (antennas, power amplifiers, etc.) is sub par. In fact I've heard only European universities still seem to teach that consistently. It's not an easy subject, a lot of very expensive equipment is necessary and you can't even begin to imagine the amount of time you need to work on the subject to gain some feeling for it. EM waves don't always behave as your brain would expect them to.
    • One cause for the lack of demand of electrical engineers is that the hardware design and manufacturing is located to cheaper countries

      I wonder if it's an indication that the skill requirement of domestic engineers are changing. I haven't seen many issues with design or layout engineering jobs going overseas. I have seen the jobs for engineers responsible for field engineering, implementation, and test are going to where the production is happening.
      It doesn't cost anything to send layout files overseas for building and testing, but it can be expensive to send boards built in another country to the US to test/debug.

    • Re:One cause (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @01:56AM (#43409453)

      ^^^ This. The US has largely ceased to be relevant for any kind of electronics manufacturing beyond small-scale highly customized design. The problem is, getting from "working prototype" to "profitable finished product that can be profitably mass-produced" is rarely a small leap, and the farther you get away from the actual manufacturing process, the harder, slower, and more expensive it becomes to get to that point in the first place. In some ways, real-world electrical engineering of consumer goods subject to variable supply-chain quality is a lot like building construction... if you pretend that what's on the datasheet is guaranteed truth instead of a rough guesstimate with enough disclaimers to render it mostly worthless if it ever came down to a lawsuit, you're going to get burned... sooner, later, and multiple points in between. You HAVE to have EEs who intimately understand the product right there next to the assembly line who can notice when something seems to be drifting beyond what they'd planed on and yell 'stop' before 10,000 items with $660,000 worth of parts end up in a landfill.

      No, that's not a hypothetical example. I was involved with a project where that's exactly what happened. We got what appeared to be an insanely good deal on RGB LEDs (~60 cents apiece, back when they used to cost almost two bucks apiece in thousand quantities), pre-tested every last one of them to confirm they actually worked, and didn't realize until after they were all assembled that about 15% of them had their blue and green pins swapped (or more likely, someone at the factory misloaded a bin of elements when the modules were assembled). It never even OCCURRED to us that something like that could actually happen, so when we tested them, we just checked all 3 pins to make sure we got 3 different colors. Fortunately, I was able to rewrite the firmware to swap the blue and green pin bits and came up with a way to retroactively reflash the microcontrollers in-situ (the original plan was to flash the MCUs before soldering, so the boards themselves had no test points or provisions for connecting them to a programmer), but it was pretty scary for a few days.

      Now, imagine that you're a large-ish American company with American designers that tries to outsource the actual manufacturing to a company in China, only to discover that the prime-quality Japanese capacitors you built the prototype with aren't quite the same as the cheap-shit Chinese capacitors that it was actually built with (the Japanese caps might have allegedly been marked for 10% tolerance, but were probably more like 0.7%... the Chinese caps might have been 10% off on their best day in history, and if the circuit really needs better than 20% tolerance... well...the fun has only begun.

      The farther manufacturing moves away from the design team, the more handicapped the design team is going to be in the real world when it comes to actual manufacturing. If they never get to SEE people trying to build the circuits they designed, they're likely to do things that someone who might have even been required to spend a week or two working on the assembly line would realize are likely to compromise its manufacturability. Under the best conditions, if the designers are in the US and the assembly line is in China, just about any problem is going to end up taking at least 2-3 days to resolve due to time differences alone.

      • by nametaken (610866)

        It makes me wonder why this still works for companies like Apple.

        Meanwhile, I price out a few PCB's at four shops, all ten minutes from me in one of the largest industrial parks in the US. It's nearly ten times more expensive to order them from next door, even if I drove over there and picked them up. I mean, that includes the cost for the Chinese to pack them, put them on a cargo ship traveling across the pacific, and delivery from the west coast to the midwest by air, truck, and foot.

        I understand that thi

    • Re:One cause (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TopSpin (753) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @03:06AM (#43409771) Journal

      One cause for the lack of demand of electrical engineers is that the hardware design and manufacturing is located to cheaper countries.

      Can't be. Those are the jobs we're keeping here in the US because we all have $75k degrees. The low skill jerbs go to Asia and we keep all the high paying jobs because the Chinese are magically incapable of EE.

      Right?

      Remember: Education. It's the future.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      One cause for the lack of demand of electrical engineers is that the hardware design and manufacturing is located to cheaper countries. However this also means that the competence level of the existing engineers declines slowly since they lack the experience from production.

      Don't worry - they'll run some "special visa" progarm when the problem gets too bad. The investors don't mind it if US engineering graduates had to work in McDonalds and have no experience as long as they can get the experienced experts from somewhere

  • This reads like a press release from IEEE-USA. It doesn't sound like they have any clue why the employment numbers have changed, but they want to complain about visas.
    • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:51AM (#43409175)

      but they want to complain about visas.

      Well, who doesn't?

      But seriously, why do they always want to single out engineering to artificially stuff the talent supply with imports? For example, it's obvious from the quality of our current congress that this country has a severe shortage of qualified candidates for public office. If they weren't flagrant hypocrites, they'd pass a law to issue visas to thousands of foreign politicians so that they could come here and compete for their seats, and in the process strengthen America's competitiveness and increase the quality of its laws.

      • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @01:00AM (#43409209) Homepage

        Meanwhile, CEO salaries are off the charts. We need to bring in some highly qualified CEOs from other countries where they're used to working for less than $1 million a year.

        • CEO salaries track the S&P 500 pretty well, which is their primary job duty. They aren't all evil, they are just the ones who benefit the most from a broken system.

          The biggest problem in the world is that there exists a certain class of "people" called corporations that don't need to worry about national borders. Humans have a large number of restrictions on where they can live and work, corporations do not.
          Companies are making record profits, and thus rewarding CEOs, because they can get money from
          • by sjames (1099)

            If everyone else in a company doesn't do their best, a company won't do very well in the S&P either. Ultimately, it's their job too, but their salaries don't track the S&P, the GDP/capita or even the CPI.

            I keep hearing about how critical outsourcing is to corporate profits and wellbeing, except for the CxOs. I have never heard of management being offshored, particularly at the board level, even though giving just 1 job the axe there is as good as 100 engineers or several hundred lower paying jobs.

            I

  • by erice (13380) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:31AM (#43409105) Homepage

    All those startups writing mobile apps and creating cloud based services need software engineers.

    They don't need electrical engineers.

    Needing electrical engineers implies building hardware. Investers don't like hardware. It takes too long. It cost too much.

    That leaves only established companies for the hardware engineerr and they are more interested in the profitablity of existing markets then in creating new ones. Hense, not a lot of hiring.

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:40AM (#43409143) Homepage Journal
    Come to Australia for a few months optical splicing work.
    The locals need help with that.
    Depending on the election outcome years of corroded copper maintenance work could open up if your skilled.
    Cable slides out, cable slides in .... cable slides out, cable slides in... crushed duct.
  • by ErstO (1696262) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:44AM (#43409161)
    Although Electrical Engineers may include Electronic Engineers, they are really two different disciplines, Electrical Engineers typically work the construction trades, building and power transmissions. Most engineers involved in integrated circuits, digital circuits and most of the new tech innovations, are more Electronic Engineers then Electrical Engineers. The high employment rate in Electrical Engineers is mainly following the low employment rate for all the construction industries. Grads with a degree in the Electronic Engineering fields ... even with no work experience will have no problem finding work, at least here in CA.
    • by erice (13380) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @01:04AM (#43409231) Homepage

      The high employment rate in Electrical Engineers is mainly following the low employment rate for all the construction industries. Grads with a degree in the Electronic Engineering fields ... even with no work experience will have no problem finding work, at least here in CA.

      By "CA" you must mean Canada because in California, specifically the San Francisco Bay Area (including Silicon Valley) this is not remotely true. Engineerig jobs that don't require experience are nearly myth. Listings are few and require quite specific experience.

  • so nobody makes custom hardware for in-house use. You buy off-the-shelf hardware.

    Software is a lot cheaper to make so a lot of companies hire developers and make their own.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      "You buy off-the-shelf hardware"

      which just appears with unicorn farts and magic right?

  • by Ion Berkley (35404) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:54AM (#43409187)

    As a 25 year chip/hardware engineer, the last 18 of which mostly as a hiring manager in Silicon valley at bleeding edge small and medium sized companies I can say categorically that it's never been easy to find engineers as I good as I wanted to find, and I don't recall it ever being worse than it is right now...I have people asking me left and right for IC and H/W people and I have non to recommend to them. My experience with H1B's is at odds with much I've read on here and elsewhere...and it leads be to the conclusion that there is abuse of the H1B system in roles such as the IT service industry, but in R&D taking the pick of the worlds best people is the life blood of US innovation, it always has been and it continues to be. I don't know what the IEEE's agenda is, but I can say absolutely that there are incredible opportunities available and apparently no-one who can legally work in the US who have have what it takes to hold them down.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @01:11AM (#43409255)

      Perhaps the problem is that everyone wants experienced engineers at a good price, but nobody wants to train them. They sit through four years of terrible college curriculum that will be lucky to have them design and produce even one project (that might not even be genuinely practical or profitable) and then we all wonder why there just aren't any good X, or Y, or Z left in the field. As the older ones retire, there's no younger blood to take their place, because training the next generation has never been a priority in industry, and the colleges sure as hell aren't replacing that kind of bond.

      • by asm2750 (1124425)
        Great comment AC, you echo my thoughts exactly.
      • Maybe the whole concept of colleges in engineering is broken. I've met with people with a CS masters degree who didn't understand the concept of exceptions, were wondering why you can't just insert a string into the middle of a text file and were surprised that you can have more than one table in a SQL database.

        I'm not saying that every graduate is bad but that even the reputable colleges hand out degrees to people who have no business having them.

        If I look at the (CS/SW related) degree from the employers p

    • I'm just waiting for salaries to rise, them I'm looking for a new job.
  • Learn to code (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fragMasterFlash (989911) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:56AM (#43409191)
    If you have done the work to become an EE you should know how to code fairly well already and given the current need for skilled software developers you can probably get hired doing embedded systems work in any of the North American technology hubs quite easily. It may not be your preferred line of work but its a living wage until and work experience to tide you over until the wave of change sweeps across the industry.
    • Re:Learn to code (Score:5, Insightful)

      by servognome (738846) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @01:28AM (#43409321)
      Hmmm, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to code the stuff I learned in: Microwave Measurements, Photovoltaic Solar Energy Systems, Optoelectronics, Antenna Theory and Design, Semiconductor Processing, and Microelectronics Packaging.
      I guess I could always fall back on my first year C programming class. I'm sure there are plenty of companies who need somebody to make their embedded device say "Hello World"
    • Re:Learn to code (Score:4, Informative)

      by thegarbz (1787294) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @04:13AM (#43410025)

      If you have done the work to become an EE you should know how to code fairly well already.

      Funny you should say that. I saw an engineer explode at a lecturer saying he was an EE and "coding" was purely in the domain of IT and didn't belong in his degree. He spent 15 minute having a shouting match saying that this should be a core subject for the degree if people aren't interested in it.

      Anyway the subject was advanced engineering mathematics and the lecturer was describing how to do FDTD analysis. The student had trouble with the concept of a "for" loop in Matlab.

      Guess who failed (and yet most likely graduated anyway) without any coding knowledge.

  • At an unemployment rate of 2.2% we could use the competition of H-1Bs. (I'm a software engineer myself, so I have a stake in this.) With that low of an unemployment rate we'll start getting unqualified people entering the field just to get jobs, much like what happened during the late 90's tech boom. Yes, the H-1B program can be abused, I've seen it myself many times. But these are actually the conditions where it works.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      Then join me in pushing for the H-1B program to be made less abusable by allowing the visa holder to change job any time they want and work for anyone they want, who is willing to hire them. They would have to pay back the visa costs that were paid by their previous employer, prorated for the remaining visa period, plus statutory interest. Their new employer could cover that.

      • by greg_barton (5551)

        That sounds reasonable.

      • I'm also in favor of a $100K/year USD salary floor for H-1B visas. If there's really a need, then the salary should be that hi... we're talking trained, technical employees.. if you're offering that much, and can't find local workers, so be it... hire foreign.
    • I have over 30 years working on the cutting edge of software development, at some the the leading companies in the field, in Silicon Valley. I have difficulty in restraining myself from challenging your credibility, so I'll focus on what you said. It is economics 101 that if there is a shortage of engineers, salaries should be increasing, until supply meets demand. There should be a lot of movement of engineers from company to company as the competion and salaries increase -- this isn't happening -- salarie
  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @01:00AM (#43409207)

    Its hard to get talent.

    I work for a small electronics company doing mid sized work for stupid large companies, I work in the engineering department, I do not have a degree in EE, I am a computer science guy with 4 years of EE in high school, and nearly 2 decades of hobby experience, I have professionally written for 2 websites in hobby electronics, and I was hired after 2 interviews (age 34 btw).

    Its taken a couple months and dozens of interviews to find another teammate that can at least keep up, let alone bring new and interesing designs to the table... and when your self thought tech can stump a 4 year EE graduate with a simple constant current 317 question (which is commonplace in our applications), that also doesn't know shit about a spreadsheet in order to present his ideas in a mathematical form, then yes, the chances of you landing a job dramatically decreases.

  • The bottom line is that technology is volatile and that makes related careers volatile. I remember after the Dot-Com crash things were rough for unemployed computer programmers on the west coast.

    I took up rag-tag consulting jobs for a while to pay the bills. My experience with legacy programming languages saved my ass. Newer programmers didn't have such to fall back on and many turned to other fields. (Ironically, I was often turned away from "dot com" jobs before the crash because I was seen as a bit too o

  • by asm2750 (1124425) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @01:53AM (#43409433)
    If you look at most entry level jobs for EE's, and Computer Engineers they want applicants to have 3 to 5 years of actual experience on products like VxWorks, Synopsys, ActiveHDL, Cadence, etc. No company wants to take a fledgling American EE graduate and help give them the skills/training needed to do their job well and build loyalty. They expect their hires to be laying gold eggs from day one with no help, have 3 or 4 internships under their belt.

    I got my MSEE last year, and all I am getting offers for are contract jobs that only last 3 to 18 months.
    Sure the pay is okay, but what happens when that pool dries up? Would you like moving from job to job always stressing out if you are going to get another contract when the current one ends?
    What if you get sick? You have to buy your own health insurance plan when you work under a contract. That might, or might not be expensive, and might not cover everything.
    How about additional training to make yourself marketable, and able to do the job faster/better? With how companies act today, don't count on it. Most contractors also expect you to be an expert in the area you will be working in.

    I would be happy to take a pay reduction for the first year or two just to get into an actual design job that has job security, and offers a constructive environment. R&D would be even better but, even I know the limits of my skills.

    Maybe it's time for engineers to start their own small side companies or, maybe it's time to encourage a tradesman program where experienced EE's show new EE's how things are done, and train the skills needed to do the job.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @04:40AM (#43410129)

      The first job is by far the hardest to get. After that first job though, if you're good, you'll be sought after by former bosses and colleagues as they move around in the industry. But if you're not good, you'll be the guy on Slashdot complaining that he doesn't understand why unemployment is so low but he gets passed over time and again.

  • H1B in the focus (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slidersv (972720) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @07:05AM (#43410585) Journal
    America is the place for the best, so if you're missing talent - bring them in. That's how project Manhattan was accomplished. And that's how all the reolutionary progress is made. You don't look at where they are from, but what they can do. Once the protectionism and nationalism starts, the you're no longer the best, and just become one of the European Middleweights. So sure, if you want to fail in the long run, ban all workforce and intelligence imports.
  • by horza (87255) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @08:08AM (#43410889) Homepage

    Why bother doing actual technical innovation? You can just do like Apple and look through other people's old software and patent the stuff others thought were way too obvious to take out a patent on. Hey, a billion dollar settlement can't be wrong...

    Phillip.

  • by gozu (541069) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @08:36AM (#43411047) Journal

    I personally worked for a company that almost exclusively hired H1B visa software engineers. The company does it because they can be paid less and they can't quit, if they lose their job, their visa is revoked immediately and they have less than 2 weeks to pack their stuff and leave the US! It doesn't make me proud to be an american. How about giving them a year to look for another job or to start their own business?

    If the company they work for wants to, it can sponsor them for a green card, which will take 7 years to be processed (!!). Ridiculous, if your yearly visa is renewed more than once, it means you have proven yourself twice already, by being hired and by being renewed and you should be able to get a green card right away or accept any competing employment offers without needing the new company to sponsor you and pay thousands of dollars. This would make you less desirable and stifle competition.

    Finally, the salary of an H1B holder should exceed the average salary for the position by a significant percentage to discourage employers from underpaying workers. H1B holders are supposed to be the best and brightest we can get, and they should be paid what they deserve.

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