The Best are getting Better

The Engineer is grumpy. His sleep was disturbed last night by drunk otherwise behaving youngsters congregating on a bench across the road in the early hours.

Groggy thought turned to the performance of young engineers at work, and the dearth of Engineering talent in the jobs market. It’s no secret there is a shortage of skilled, experienced engineers of all varieties.

Its an employee’s market with companies competing to recruit. The trouble is that within the limited supply of people, few are actually any good. Many of you might take exception to that statement, so lets explore it a bit further.

Starting with the older engineers, they have been reliable, efficient and knowledgeable. However this knowledge has been limited to the narrow field they’ve been in all their lives, and their enthusiasm and drive is typically muted. Why then would they be poor engineers? Their focus is too narrow. They can’t see the bigger picture, or assimilate new technology and ideas that readily. Good engineering requires all these things.

Then you have the younger engineers. Full of enthusiasm, drive, theoretical knowledge, and an inherent understanding of new tech. But tempered with little commitment, impatience, low practical understanding and weak character in the face of problems. Again good engineering requires all these things.

Its not that these individuals are bad at their jobs or outright incompetent. Far from it, simply that the scope of their ability is limited to their experience. A true engineer should be able to step beyond their own experience and independently practice sound principles to an unfamiliar problem or discipline.

Of course, there are a minority of individuals who buck the trend in both camps. Individuals who display exceptional vision, creativity, skill, intuition and untaught natural aptitude. The Engineer’s experience, contrary to reputation and popular believe, is that these people are predominantly amongst the young. Why is this? Perhaps simply they have grown up surrounded by ubiquitous technology. Perhaps they have more pressure in the form of student loans, getting on the housing ladder etc for motivation.

Regardless, these individuals leave their predecessors standing in the dust when faced with modern problems. They are people companies want to nurture, to invest in. However despite this intention, companies are finding them impossible to recruit. Not only for competition but the candidates themselves realising their own worth.

More and more, the most capable are choosing to work for themselves as contractors, the allure of setting their own schedule and the larger daily rate difficult to ignore.

The best candidates getting better and rarer. So where does that leave employers? Fighting over the rest.


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