Whatever industry you happen to be a part of, you surely have a vested interest in developing your understanding of the state of that industry-especially considering the fact that we are three years into a worldwide economic recession! There is a lot to be said about the state of the engineering industry, for example, which could be described in many ways besides stagnant. The engineering world is undergoing many changes, some of which have been coming along for quite some time now while others have been triggered by knee-jerk reactions to the current economic turmoil.
The engineering industry is an interesting case to examine because it captures several broader trends in quite an amazing fashion. Perhaps the most poignant example of this can be seen in the general talent struggle that is going on between developed and developing nations, with the latter gaining increasing territory at the expense of the former. Consider this: while degree generation in the science and engineering sectors in the United States has remained pretty stagnant, in countries like China, India, the Middle East and even parts of Europe the figures have risen quite impressively. Not only are countries like China and India pumping out a formidable volume of engineers and scientists, but furthermore major engineering firms are placing ever-greater trust in the capabilities of these professionals-a significant development that is completely unprecedented.
This scenario has led to the diminishing of hi-tech jobs in the United States as well as other developed nations and the increase of such jobs elsewhere-again, mainly China and India. The outsourcing model has only intensified as a result of the recession of these past two to three years (we won’t engage here in speculation on when exactly when it was that the crisis began), and as manufacturing work has gone abroad so has the engineering work that is needed to support and guide it. As more and more engineering work is shipped off to foreign lands, engineers will increasingly find that their job prospects are better abroad than at home.
Yet the state of the engineering industry in developed nations is nonetheless doing pretty well, as contradictory as that may seem, and analysts predict that this industry will be one of the principal vehicles for the United States as well as other nations to emerge from the current crisis. A few of the most promising areas within the industry would have to be those tied into development of alternative energies, biotech in general, as well as computer, systems and internet engineering. Software engineers in particular remain in pretty high demand and prove that though the hi-tech engineering field has experienced significant changes (re: the outsourcing trends mentioned above) there is still reason to be optimistic.
To recap, the state of the engineering industry is actually fairly good in comparison to other industries though certain engineering disciplines are doing much better than others. Innovation is going to be what really gets the trick done for engineers and their broader field-a notion that is just as applicable now as always.