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Electrical Engineering Labor Pool Shrinking 401

dcblogs writes "The number of electrical engineers in the workforce has declined over the last decade. It's not a steady decline, and it moves up and down, but the overall trend is not positive. In 2002 the U.S. had 385,000 employed electrical engineers; in 2004, post bubble, it was at 343,000. It reached 382,000 in 2006, but has not risen above 350,000 since then, according to U.S. Labor Data. In 2012, there were 335,000 electrical engineers in the workforce. Of the situation, one unemployed electrical engineer said: 'I am getting interviews but, they have numerous candidates to choose from. The employers are very fussy. They are really only interested in a perfect match to their needs. They don't want the cost to develop talent internally. They are even trying to combine positions to save money. I came across one employer trying to combine a mechanical and electrical engineer.'"
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Electrical Engineering Labor Pool Shrinking

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  • Why Wouldn't It Be? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lee Riemenschneider ( 2859815 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @08:23AM (#44259961)
    In the '90s, EEs at the company I worked for were being "reskilled" to do software development. The positions they occupied weren't being refilled (at least, not in the USA). There has been no surge in demand and a high unemployment rate, so why would students choose to pursue it as a degree?
  • Re: Quite so! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rostin ( 691447 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @08:58AM (#44260181)
    Engineering coop positions and internships pay very generously in the US. On the other hand, the amount of useful knowledge and skills gained in such positions is pretty negligible, so I don't think the person you responded to was correct. They serve mostly as ways for companies to get tedious, low skill work done and to inexpensively vet potential future employees.
  • Re:This just in... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @09:05AM (#44260247) Homepage Journal
    The trouble with being an EE.

    You generally start out with a pretty high salary right out of college, and then in just a few years, you quickly top out and can't seem to earn much more.

    People *do* work to make money as a bottom line, and this kind of thing hurts a career choice.

  • Re:This just in... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @01:58PM (#44263233)

    I'm a EE who moved into the software field a decade ago, but moved back to start my own company.

    From what I can tell, EE in the US is going two ways:
    1) there's still a lot of EEs employed by companies like Intel. However, they don't deal with circuits or soldering irons or anything like that; they do nothing but design RTL code in Verilog, or write software to validate that RTL. Basically, EE degrees are mostly useless for these people, because the only thing they really need to know is digital logic and Verilog coding. They sure as hell don't need EM fields classes, control theory, analog electronics, heck they could probably do fine without even learning Ohm's Law and Kirchoff's Laws.

    2) For everything that doesn't involve Verilog, it's all moved to Asia. US companies don't design electronics any more, they outsource all the work to contract manufacturers and ODMs in Taiwan and China, and focus on parts of the software. At one company I worked at a few years ago, they designed an all-new product that had an embedded computer, touchscreen, etc.; the electronics design was all done by the CM/ODM, and much of the software was outsourced as well. The only stuff they kept in-house was some of the encryption software (this device had to be PCI compliant (that's Payment Card Industry, not the bus)). They had one EE on staff, only one, and he quit to start his own company; they didn't miss him at all, or bother to replace him. There was a bit of microcontroller code (for some security chip that was embedded into some of the products) that he was responsible for maintaining which was handed over to me as I was also a EE with some microcontroller experience, but then I never did anything with it. After I quit it was probably completely forgotten about.

    "Real" EE work has all gone to Asia these days, because that's where all the manufacturing is. The only exception might be in the defense industry, but do you really want to work for an evil government that drone-bombs children, tortures people, and spies on citizens more than the Stasi? In private (non-defense-related) industry, you don't have to set aside your morals, but there's really not much work left there except at very small companies working in niche industries, and the pay at small companies usually isn't very good.

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye