A couple of major points need to be made to explain the problems mentioned in Situations Vacant (20 February).
The complaint of a difficulty in finding people with experience has two main causes. The first is a simple and extremely frustrating one for those seeking a new position.
The set of skills and experiences required by most companies advertising is becoming narrower and narrower until the number of eligible candidates becomes very small indeed.
The rather insulting insinuation is that engineers are generally incapable of learning or adapting.
The second cause is simply a steady increase in specialisation among engineers. Marrying these two divergent trends is obviously increasingly difficult. Anyone thought of training?
The general shortage of engineers has one major cause which the article avoids. The general fall of engineers’ salaries this century, despite a recent small upturn, has caused immense harm.
The proportion of my fellow students on a college engineering course who actually went into engineering is fairly small. The rest are making a good living in advertising, banking, marketing, insurance and sales.
Of those who stayed in the profession, a significant minority practise abroad where the salaries and standing of engineers are higher.
A disturbing result of all this is a steady rise in poorly qualified people doing engineers’ jobs, resulting in a poor quality of output.
The engineering industry is getting what it is paying for.