back to article Engineers on the brink of extinction threaten entire tech ecosystems

Intel has produced some unbelievable graphs in its time: projected Itanium market share, next node power consumption, multicore performance boosts. The graph the company showed at the latest VLSI Symposium, however, was a real shocker. While computer science course take-up had gone up by over 90 percent in the past 50 years, …

  1. Binraider Silver badge

    Thought piece. Companies that need electrical and electronic engineers should sponsor promising students through college/university; in return for a contract of service of X years to discourage poaching.

    Leave early; and you repay the costs.

    While you are at it, have enough junior vacancies in your job structure to allow people to join the company and work up the ranks. Recruiting the person that "knows" is great, but creating the next group of people that "know" is also important.

    I personally have benefitted from schemes of the latter nature, working up the ranks rather than direct entry at high level. And the stable door is firmly closed right now thanks to ass-backwards HR and cost drivers.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      in return for a contract of service of X years to discourage poaching.

      Aka slavery? I mean the EE wages are not much different from someone flipping burgers and selling weed on the side while playing playstation, so why someone should bother?

      1. Binraider Silver badge

        Against a backdrop of where going to university leaves you with £40-50k debt (or worse) with basically no exit option, sponsorship is a whole lot more appealing.

        The RAF do exactly the same, if you are willing to sign on for X years as an officer they'll sponsor your way through university.

        In commercial world, poaching that employee you've invested in training in is absolutely a thing; so having some sort of ties doesn't seem desperately unreasonable. If someone REALLY wants to poach they could offer to take on the debt themselves.

        I would also argue that sitting on the status quo which is already failing cannot solve problems. Either do something different, or things break. Manglement - your move.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          In commercial world, poaching that employee you've invested in training in is absolutely a thing; so having some sort of ties doesn't seem desperately unreasonable.

          It is feudal. If you don't want employee to be poached, pay enough so they don't think about it.

          It's really simple.

          Corporations seems to be doing anything to f workers to appease shareholders.

          1. Binraider Silver badge

            If you haven't got someone to pay, they can't be poached either!

            Upping numbers of skills in circulation will (eventually) bring down TCO but businesses seem to ignore that.

          2. Horst U Rodeinon

            It isn't just about a paycheck

            "If you don't want employee to be poached, pay enough so they don't think about it.

            It's really simple."

            If it were only so. No amount of salary can compensate for the burnout created by incompetent management.

            1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

              Re: It isn't just about a paycheck

              Then chaining a worker to such management should be a crime...

            2. tesmith47

              Re: It isn't just about a paycheck

              Sometimes, but the pay is not high

            3. Captain_Cretin

              Re: It isn't just about a paycheck

              I cannot express how much I agree with this, I was an electrical/electronic tech from the early 80s through to the late 90s, when I just gave up on the entire industry after encountering more and more issues with working for idiots; from workplaces where I could be proud of the standard of work I performed (I have my name on two Queen's Awards); to places that demanded I bodge jobs to save a few beer tokens, or treated me like dogshit.

              In the end, it reached the point where I was waking up every morning, looking for excuses to call in sick; so I quit the industry, and took up a career that paid a tiny fraction of my previous salary, but where I could pour my heart and soul into what I was doing, and where they had to FORCE me to go home, if I was sick.

          3. low_resolution_foxxes

            We are at a quagmire where electronics degrees are actually really effing hard, and you can expect to earn £25-30kpa when you start.

            No disrespect to lawyers or bankers, but good graduates could expect to earn £25-35kpa when they start, and frankly they are easier topics. I like to think I walk the line on that as I am an electronic engineering graduate who works in economics.

            I could teach most of our junior admins basic economic theory, I could barely teach their managers basic transistor design. When the bankers, lawyers, economists and public sector workers can expect to earn more in the early days than electronic experts who have to know an insanely wide set of theory, it's no surprise no one wants to learn this topic

            Heck, your average electronic engineer is usually supposed to know a decent amount of code in various languages.

            1. Zolko Silver badge

              No disrespect to lawyers or bankers

              Why not ? They're effectively parasites to our society, bringing nothing and yet getting paid a lot. And getting to write the laws that benefit themselves. And being bailed-out when their bets go wrong. They should be in Ark B ... or worse.

            2. Timop

              "I could barely teach their managers basic transistor design."

              As a mechanical designer interested in ee basics even the basic stuff is frigging complicated! Yeah some heat transfer or airflow stuff is not something you can calculate easily but all can be dissected into really simple concepts that are relatively easy to comprehend.

              Then you start with ee basics and think what the f... I thought this was the basics not an advanced math session and concepts with frequency, impedance etc and each component added to system could change characteristics of everything and one needs to start from scratch again and then just check the current against component ratings etc...

              Thank god there are basic circuit simulators available!

        2. Tom 7

          I would not even consider getting paid through uni for X years as a compulsory employee. I've seen enough companies bought out by foreign companies and throwing out the rule book. I can easily see current management chucking you out, suing you for training and interest owed and then giving themselves a bonus, leaving you with many years experience in something of no interest to anyone else. I say this as someone who got a grant to go to uni, went to work for BT who invested millions in mine and associated posts and then the government privatised us and decided having the best fibre optic design group in the world was a problem for other companies and so shut us down.

          The lock in times for these things to make sense for company and student are incompatible with human rights let alone good employment practice.

          1. Binraider Silver badge

            I suspect you have just outlined the reasons why we have gone ass backwards very succinctly.

            We have world beating skills, hampered by red tape created by middlemen that want their cut.

          2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            I would not even consider getting paid through uni for X years as a compulsory employee.

            That's wrong, because it eliminates people from poor backgrounds. Imagine being born in a poor family, that somehow managed to get you the education working 3 shifts and then you can't get practical knowledge, because you can't afford to work for 8 hours and then do another 8 hours somewhere else just to put food on the table.

            That's why volunteering at for profit organisations is illegal in this country.

            1. Tom 7

              You've missed my point completely. If you work for a company you get educated in what they do. IF what they do is no longer marketable you end up with unwanted talents while still tenured to the company. Or if the company is bought up then they may not need you at all. Businesses are too uncertain these days to tie yourself to them. It takes a long time to get good at something in electronics/IT and the chances of transferring those skills to another field I found no-one wanted to pay me anywhere near my worth to take the risk in the UK and I didnt want to work abroad which was the only place my skills could have been used at the time. I've seem people with incredible skills fought for over years left unemployed for long periods when their company has switched tack. Its OK if you're like me and dont mind serving pints waiting for the market to change but most people cant do that if beholden to companies for high level expensive training they no longer wish to employ. The forces can do a good job of this, public companies can do it but the private sector should be avoided at all costs.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                "IF what they do is no longer marketable you end up with unwanted talents while still tenured to the company."

                In the specifics, yes, you could be right. The skills that many fresh-outs need are the things that seasoned engineers have had to learn in the wild because they aren't taught at University. I have yet to encounter a newly minted engineer with any grounding in material science and an understanding of how to select materials for a job. They also don't get any training in corporate workflows that are important to know how to navigate. Documentation is also a huge poorly covered subject. They can produce a CAD drawing and schematic, but can't explain the theory of operation or a basis for the design they have submitted.

                Any job where one is working with other engineers that have a wealth of years doing their job should be a learning experience. I always look to learn something new when working on anything. If I am not, I get really bored.

            2. EarthDog

              so why not make education free?

              1. LisaJK

                Like in Germany and many other countries...

                Youth are potentially the biggest asset any country has in the long term, but only if they are given an education.

                Higher education used to be free in the UK, but it was rationed. Sure, if higher education is free and unlimited, some will do relatively useless courses, but the majority will do something more useful for themselves and the country.

                When the UK stopped rationing higher education and paid for it with student loans, what they were effectively doing was paying for it with a graduate tax, which would only be repayable if the graduate got a good enough job.

                However, what also happened in the UK is that universities now see students as their cash cows. It's now common to have no minimum A level requirement for entry to Uni. Any course which will attract students will be run, including such courses as golf course management!!! I'm not denigrating golf course managers, but it hardly requires a degree to manage a golf course!

                I went to uni to study Electrical & Electronic engineering in the UK when it was all free, but if there had been a choice, I would have preferred a more hands on learning, like an apprenticeship, or day release. The university lecturers were totally out of touch with state of the art in industry, so uni taught me very little about the practicalities of product development and all that I learnt on the job after I left.

                What I also learnt on leaving was that software engineers are in far higher demand than hardware engineers and are paid far better, so although I prefer hardware, I have done mostly software engineering during my career.

                1. mahasamatman

                  'mostly software engineering'

                  .. mostly *polishing*, surely ?

              2. ecofeco Silver badge

                I cannot believe you got any downvotes for this, let alone two.

                The really smart nations are already offering free education all the way through uni and casual learning.

              3. MachDiamond Silver badge

                "so why not make education free?"

                It is free. It costs you nothing to learn things. The costs come in when you want to take up somebody else's time transferring their knowledge to you.

        3. EarthDog

          why not just make education free?

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "The RAF do exactly the same, if you are willing to sign on for X years as an officer they'll sponsor your way through university."

          The US Navy's nuclear power program is like that. It's more or less a lifetime hitch, but you wind up with a doctorate in nuclear engineering. You go through boot, go to school and have terms of active service so your education has gap years that you spend in service. It's a lifetime as once your active service commitments are complete, you remain on-call for pretty much as long as you can physically get around if there is a desperate need. It didn't sound that appealing to me so I declined though they did keep calling and I had to change my phone number a couple of times.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        AKA what we used to call apprenticeship.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "AKA what we used to call apprenticeship."

          To be fair (whatever that means), some apprenticeships were paid. The upside is that when one became a journeyman, the return on that investment was worth the price.

      3. Ididntbringacoat

        No, not "slavery" . . .

        "Indentured service" perhaps, but not "slavery".

        It is, in reality, a reasonable way for talented, "got no special privileges", person to get an advanced education they might not obtain otherwise.

        Just ask the US Navy, which churned out thousands of highly qualified Technical people over the decades.

        1. david 12 Silver badge

          Re: No, not "slavery" . . .

          At a complete tangent, the modern anti-slavery laws in Australia define 'slavery' to include old-style 'indentured service'. It wasn't entirely intentional, but after it was clarified in court, everybody involved had another look at the law and said 'yes, that is what we mean'.

      4. HammerOn1024

        While asking for 'X-Years of service' was prevalent, it took one 13th amendment lawsuit, and rightly so, to make the practice illegal.

        Indentured servitude is slavery.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Quite right.

          Now only people with well off families can get training to progress in their career because they can afford to pay for it, and the poor can be kept in their rightful place, thereby keeping the higher up positions available for the right sort of people.


          Are you really arguing for that?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Have you not heard of contract work?

            This successfully (and without connotations of slavery) exists in many business sectors already.

            The US Navy is a prime example, of which In a retiree.

            That would offer to pay the college debt of a student in exchange for 6 years of military service (of which the first two years is more internal schooling).

            On the enlisted side, we sign up for 6 year contracts (which were only actually 4 year extensions) for a $100k bonus (half paid up front, the rest divided over the 4 years).

            There were numerous reasonable ways to break the contract by both sides.

            I think your notions of how contacts work are short sighted due to not having seen it before.

            Even the job I'm in now required that I repay my generous "relocation allowance" if I quit within one year. Oh my, they owned me then! Lol

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "Indentured servitude is slavery."

          It can be but not always. If you have indentured yourself in a way that allows you to get out by repaying some amount of money, it's not true slavery. Some apprenticeships used to require a period of service in exchange for the training which meant that a young person without means had an opportunity to learn a good trade in exchange for a certain period work in repayment. These days, students take out massive student loans they can't discharge through bankruptcy to pay rapacious college fees with zero guarantee that they'll be qualified for or able to get paying work at the end. An apprentice can often stay on with the master for wages if there is enough business. Are student loans going to be classified as indentured servitude next? Why not? Is it due to the political clout of the entity collecting the money?

      5. Brian Miller

        "I mean the EE wages are not much different from someone flipping burgers"

        Nearly true, a local company wanted to pay only $75K for an EE with decades of experience. So of course the fellow declined to be hired for that wage. If the companies that need the talent can't be bothered to pay a decent wage, then of course people will leave EE and go with software.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "If the companies that need the talent can't be bothered to pay a decent wage, then of course people will leave EE and go with software."

          I've seen enthusiastic MBA's with what they think is an awesome business plan not do any research into what it might cost to get the talented people they need to pull it off. That's if the plan actually has any merit to start with. Those MBA's are taught or somehow lead to believe that the people that do the work that brings in revenue are interchangeable. Granted, it's not hard to swap people around doing low skilled work, but even a salesperson position can be very important.

          I interviewed at several start-up aerospace companies that paid an average salary but insisted on 50+ hours per week. Broken down to $$/hr, I could have made slightly less at the hardware store but only had a 40hr week, an employee discount and no intellectual pressure at all. With that job to keep the fires going, I could moonlight doing contract design work and make much more. Those companies didn't do their homework and should have realized they were wasting their time.

      6. Geez Money

        I guess you're being downvoted for tone, but you're 100% right about the wages. I don't know what it's like in the UK, but in North America you do the same amount of school and go into an equally difficult job, but if you pick software you get paid double or so.

        If Intel is worried about their supply of hardware engineers they should probably do something about salaries in the industry.

      7. EarthDog

        indentured servitude actually. Unconstitutional in the US.

      8. Db_Badmin

        I'm not sure you fully appreciate the distinction between "employee" and "slave". Slaves are not paid and have no opportunity to seek employment elsewhere. There's nothing wrong with funding someone through apprenticeship and expecting a tour of duty in return.

      9. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Aka slavery?"

        No, the term of service is an option for repayment of the student loans. If you like, you can pay the remaining balance and cut ties. The difference might be that there is no interest due if you pay back the loan with your labor.

    2. NewModelArmy

      In the UK, engineering is not held in high esteem as a profession, more so electrical and electronic engineering.

      The other aspect is foreign manufacturing has essentially killed off the industry here in the UK. Of course, there are still manufacturing of electronic equipment here, but not on the scale of China as an example.

      The EU are courting Intel and TSMC for investment in fabrication plants in the EU, and our government (tossers) is only cottoning on to the fact that a Chinese company wants to purchase a fabrication plant in Wales, and is using the National Security and Investment act to review the buy out.

      The UK government attitude is one of let anything happen to the UK industry and hope foreign investment "happens" to save the UK. The Tories are just wheelers and dealers. Car salesman types.

      You can still purchase electronics magazines, but the ones i subscribe to are now not on the news stand.

      Is electronics taught in schools ?, or any projects that are easy to build to get people interested ?

      A search on Indeed returned 10,451 jobs, so there are positions available, maybe to be filled by immigration ? Some of the returned jobs are software too.

      Searching on the UK Gov website, there are 105 apprenticeships in England.

      The UK government of all flavours are just not interested in a strategy for the UK, so any requirement for future electronic engineering roles will not be considered. The UK is pretty much doomed to fail in this area given offshore manufacturing is so cheap.

      1. Binraider Silver badge

        On apprenticeships, I regularly interview potential candidates. We had 8 that made it to the final stages of application, 7 I could have made offers to, and HR allowed us only 3 spaces.

        Considering the company has approx. 400 vacancies right now; that tells you all you need to know.

      2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        If you wanted to build something in the UK you simply can't anymore.

        Even basic things like PCBs. It costs 10-50x of what you pay in China plus a lot of hassle, as our systems are simply very poor.

        1. NewModelArmy

          I always use a UK manufacturer for PCB's, but i agree, that China based PCB fabrication for what i design is in general 8x less in cost.

          1. Adrian 4

            I'm not sure hat's really true.

            For prototypes, yes. I can get a few pcbs from jlcpcb for $10. And $20 postage. And a 2 week wait.

            I can get a few pcbs from my local pcb manufacturer for £100 for the photomask and something similar for an MOQ of pcbs. So if I can manage my time properly, I get them from china and save £1-200.

            But when I look at the panel costs for production quantities, they tend toward the same value.

            What the chinese suppliers have succeeded in doing is rattling through a design with a lot of automation and some in-house photo-processing, and have enough volume thta they can aggregate designs without any delay. I can use OSH Park : for small pcbs, they're also cheap. But they don't do as much business so it takes them longer to aggregate a worthwhile set of orders.

            What they haven't succeeded in doing is getting higher volumes as cheap. I don't know what the tradeoffs are. I think the popular chinese suppliers have been careful not to race to the bottom, but that means their higher volumes even out the same as everybody else.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              "I can get a few pcbs from my local pcb manufacturer for £100 for the photomask and something similar for an MOQ of pcbs."

              Keep shopping. There are more small pcb houses that can compete with JLC on some levels. I often need faster service and getting something done closer to home means that if there are an issues, I can have a revision that much faster. I also know what holidays are coming up. I often don't know what holidays there are in Asia nor if the company will be closing shop for them. Whether they let staff off or not can depend on how well business has been. One year they might only take 2 days for New Year and other years they may be shut for 2 weeks. By the time I'm ready for PCB's, I need them as quickly as I can get them. Shipping and customs are also an unknown. I've had things hung up in customs for a week or more. I keep everything above board with declarations and so forth, but customs will mark something for inspection and take their own sweet time getting to it.

          2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

            I'll let the Chinese build my PCBs, but they get assembled in the US. FAR less chance of dodgy components that way.

            When I retired last year, after a career of 42 years as an EE, I was making about $150k. This without having gone into management, as my only love is designing and building stuff. It was sometimes a struggle, and raises have definitely gotten leaner in recent years, but I've had a lot of fun, put two kids on track for their careers and am still happily married to the woman I met in college. Retirement lasted less than a year, and I am now back working as an hourly consultant at a very fair hourly rate. Apparently, my skills are still marketable.

            I do not think that EEs will die out, because you need power supplies for those little embedded computers, motor drivers and interfaces to the real world, and those need to be designed for every case individually, because that's what makes your product better than the competition (if any). As for EE techs, those cables aren't gonna make themselves, and someone needs to fix that cord that got,pulled outmof the expensive gadget.

        2. Tom 7

          I looked into making my own PCBs and was surprised to discover the cost of the bare necessities meant I could not make my own more cheaply than I could buy in from abroad. Lead times would have been months rather than days in house but there is something seriously wrong with the supply chains in this country.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            China has cheap energy, and literal slave labour from people who are ideologically defective and need retraining.

            It's difficult to compete with that when your energy and labour costs are higher; everything down the supply chain costs a lot more.

          2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

            I looked into making my own PCBs

            The joker in the pack is when you go more than 2 layer.

            Then you need a laminating press, which is big, heavy and very expensive.

            The other parts you could handle without needing conventional etch resists by using an inorganic etch resist (Cu/Ga IIRC) developed at Birmingham U (It's exposed by head EG a CO2 laser). In principle when done you can strip and recycle the ingredients (Gallium is quite expensive) or a fully coated board and machining off the copper layer where it's not needed (IIRC this is a thing in the power electronics world).

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "there is something seriously wrong with the supply chains in this country."

            There is no supply chain outside of Asia now. So much manufacturing has been outsourced that any work being done in the UK, US or EUR relies on parts and machinery coming from Asia. The also seem to have limitless investment to keep current on machinery and processes along with having plenty of raw materials/components on hand for fast turnarounds. Far less JIT which is too easy to trip up.

        3. Tom66

          Lots of PCBs are still made in the UK. Still king for quick turn, I can get boards done in 1-2 days up to 6-8 layers at the place down the road from me. Plus very complex ones like flexi-rigid assemblies are still done here quite commonly.

          Like many other things the cheap commodity high volume stuff has gone to China but that doesn't mean there isn't still a bustling PCB industry here.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            But to get a PCB like that you have to pay an equivalent of mortgage payment, it's way too expensive. While Chinese have been fast these days. You can get PCB delivered in 7 days.

            There was a good manufacturer in the EU, slightly more expensive than China but affordable and could get you stuff in 1-2 days as well. Unfortunately Brexit messed that up and delivery is often slower than from China.

          2. Number6

            The hidden cost of doing business in China is that for a new product with innovative features, it shortens the time before there's a cheap competitor. If they have to tear it down and reverse-engineer it to make a copy, that takes time, but if you've given them all the drawings, it's much easier.

            Yes, I've seen it a couple of times with offshoring, once with an Indian company whose boards worked perfectly in our system and looked remarkably similar, and their EPROMS (yes, that old) were identical to an earlier version of ours apart from where they'd used a hex editor to put their name in instead of ours (good incentive to have a short company name). Turns out some years before the company looked to have the Indian company manufacture for them. The other one, more recent from China, was a subsystem in a competing product that was almost identical to ours. The killer there was that while all the mechanical parts had different part numbers on them, the PCB had our part number etched into the copper. The product was made for us in China.

            1. david 12 Silver badge

              We don't send our ROM to China. Everything we make could be copied, including the ROM by etching the cover off the microprocessor, but actually giving them a copy would be just too easy.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              "The hidden cost of doing business in China is that for a new product with innovative features, it shortens the time before there's a cheap competitor."

              If you've completely outsourced your product to one entity, sure. If you are just having PCB's made or metal parts, you aren't exposing your designs as much. A few companies I know have subsidiaries with a different name for ordering parts abroad to obfuscate what sort of product the components and sub-assemblies will be used in.

              I use a parts numbering scheme so the title block of my drawings don't indicate the product the parts are destined to be used in. Some parts are easy to spot, but without seeing the assembly around that part, it's hard to tell how the design makes any improvements.

      3. Tom66

        Electronics was still taught in schools when I was there about 10 years ago. It's one reason I ended up doing it as a degree and a career.

        1. Sgt_Oddball

          In my school...

          We also had an electronics lab. Went to do it at A-level to discover it was a joke. I knew more than the teacher (having made a 7 chip calculator in school) and got bored of the whole thing.

          The closest I got to a decent project was a lift control mechanism - 7 sensors provided we needed to use at least 2, maybe 3 and use an EPROM to control it.

          I made mine with 5 (would have used all 7 but not enough EPROM inputs to handle them) and able to work on hydraulic, screw and cable lifts with a circuit half the size of the rest of them.

          Never did go to uni in the end...

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: In my school...

            After "doing" electronics for at least two years at primary school age (anybody remember the Ladybird Build A Transister Radio book?) when I started at secondary school I noticed there was an electronics club and joined it. Only be so disappointed by how crap it was.

            1. adam 40 Silver badge

              Re: In my school...

              Yes I have the Ladybird book somewhere!

              I did AS Electronics, which was a nice way to formalise my hobby, including a final project, it wasn't at all bad.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: In my school...

            " I knew more than the teacher (having made a 7 chip calculator in school) and got bored of the whole thing."

            I've had that happen. Too bad you didn't just see the chance at using the time and facilities to go off on your own (with the teacher's permission, of course). We didn't have much money when I was growing up and that meant I didn't have the funds for a meter and O-scope at home. The electronics classroom at school even had equipment for fabricating sheet metal chassis' so a few of us were able to come in after classes if the teacher was marking papers or something and use the gear for outside projects.

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: In my school...

            "Never did go to uni in the end..."

            If you have the knowledge, the degree is only needed to get a specific job. Being able to understand technical things is important whether you make a career out of it or not. I leaned how to use a sewing machine and have one over in the other corner. It means I can make and mend when I need something rather than having to buy something new. That sewing machine has paid itself back many times over. The machine I bought is second hand for $10 and found a box of sewing supplies at an estate sale for $5. I've got more thread and needles than I'll be able to use in my lifetime.

            Learning stuff doesn't have to lead to anything. It's worthwhile in and of itself and good practice.

      4. iron Silver badge

        The Tory attitide to UK industry is "eww didn't we get rid of all that dirty stuff under Maggie?"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Maggie" sold off companies that were profitable companies when privatised, but in the face of not having any competition and not having to worry about losing their jobs even if they didn't do any work had become severely loss making. This had forced the country to go to the IMF with a begging bowl, and the IMF gave us a loan on the basis that we'd get rid of the structural problem; ie the companies literally bankrupting the country.

          The only way Thatcher "got rid" of them was by turning them into private companies again and handing them a pile of cash and letting them sink or swim. Definitely all Thatcher's fault some went down though.

          You know, even if most of those companies that did collapse because of the high price of sterling making exports effectively impossible and imports from competitors artificially cheap, making them unviable during the period Labour was in power, ten to fifteen years after Thatcher was out of power and while Blair (and Labour) was in No 10. Still, that's quite ideologically inconvenient and results in cognitive dissidence so it might be worth pretending that didn't happen.

          There are plenty of privatised companies are still going (ie BT/Openreach being possibly the largest example) although many of us might occasionally wish otherwise!

          1. martinusher Silver badge

            >You know, even if most of those companies that did collapse because of the high price of sterling making exports effectively impossible and imports from competitors artificially cheap, making them unviable during the period Labour was in power,

            You have to go back a bit further, back when Labour was really in power in the 60s and part of the 70s. British industry was in a bit of a mess due to systematic under investment with M&A consolidating companies (that's "Mergers and Acquisitions") and profits chased by ruthless cost cutting which translated to low salaries and no investment. The government tried shotgun marriages to make things work better (e.g. forming BAE and ICL) but the die was cast because the corporate types had split the companies in two, 'commercial' and 'government / defense', the latter being inherently profitable because of 'cost plus', the former struggling to stay afloat.

            The (Labour) government decided eventually that if these companies were to get public capital then the government was going to get equity in exchange. (Private capital wasn't available because the time frame for a decent RoI was far too slow for the City -- as today they want their pound of flesh plus interest right now or they're not interested). Some of those companies eventually bore significant fruit but by that time the government had changed and these were sold off at fire sale rates to the City.

            By the time Blair and Co took over for the Labour government most Reg readers remember there was bugger all in the kitty to work with -- to quote the great lady "There Is No Alternative".

            British people even today have no idea of the scope and scale of the rip off that was pulled on them. They are all very much the poorer for it......and it shows.

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              By the time Blair and Co took over for the Labour government most Reg readers remember there was bugger all in the kitty to work with -- to quote the great lady "There Is No Alternative".



              Gambling that the political appeal of his tax pledge to floating middle-class voters the Opposition is targeting will outweigh criticism, Mr Brown promised that the basic rate of tax would not rise from 23p in the pound and the top rate would remain at 40p.

              Mr Brown's promise, combined with a commitment to stick by the Conservative Party's public spending plans for the first two years...

              Resulting in one of the two budget surpluses in the last fifty years, the other being Thatchers.


              You can't therefore fairly claim that there was no money in the kitty; This was the point just prior to when Blair and Brown proceeded to spend like it was going out of fashion. They just didn't do it to save the Labour dominated industries, which could have easily been done simply by a policy of British government spending doing to these companies, for instance Rover could have been saved simply by buying Police and Government cars from them instead of from BMW etc. Personally I think the decisions not to do so are fair enough; it's just not fair or reasonable to then try and blame the demise of those industries on Thatcher after she'd been out of office for like 15 years, the latter half of which when most of the industries went down had Labour in office.

              Of course, politically Labour can't say "yeah, those industries were producing crap and deserved to die" without losing all of their working class supporters so they have to blame it on the conservatives despite the actual facts of the matter being rather at odds with their rhetoric.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            The bigger issue wasn't the sale of failing companies, it was the disasterous social policies bankrolled by income from oil/gas

            In addition, there were no steps taken to prevent harmful monopolies being created (hello BT) along with selling off stuff paid for and funded as public health initiatives (hello water companies - cholera was their impetus) that were turned into abusive monopolies

      5. Ken Smith

        Couldn't agree more. Engineers have lost their status in the UK. Now the fitter/technician who does domestic repairs is called an engineer. WTF. Whereas in Germany engineers become esteemed with the title Herr Ingenieur.

        I would also suggest that our engineering institutions haven't maintained the profile of Engineers and the key role they play in society.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Most of the UK engineering institutions are run by senior people in the that industry. It's not in their interests to see engineering pay increase.

          1. adam 40 Silver badge

            I wouln't be a member of a club...

            When I tried to join the IEE or BCS when I needed them, starting out after Uni, they wouldn't' have me (need 5 years experience or something back in the day).

            When I had the experience, I didn't need them!

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Exault to that. I cannot believe that as a service desk monkey my job title is IT *Engineer*.

          1. vogon00

            my job title is IT *Engineer*.

            I occasionally worked with a company that has lots to do with what most people my age would call 'Yellow-striped Parking Vultures' i.e. the person who gives you a ticket for parting illegally.

            Their job title is not 'Traffic Warden', but - officially and deliberately - 'Civilian Enforcement Officer' - CEO for effs sake!

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          And none of them operate trains.

          Don't operate a train? You're NOT an engineer.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "Now the fitter/technician who does domestic repairs is called an engineer"

          Train drivers in the US are called "engineers". In steam days, they might have been, but now they are just drivers when they aren't on strike.

      6. tesmith47

        Capitalism says use foreign brain reap the profit

      7. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "A search on Indeed returned 10,451 jobs, so there are positions available, maybe to be filled by immigration ? Some of the returned jobs are software too."

        yes and no. A bunch of those ads will be targeted at a specific person or a small number of very particular people. It's a cover for recruiting that might be considered unethical. If the job is posted in public, it's easy for the intended target to show that they found the offer without recruitment and applied openly.

        Some jobs are always advertised as a fishing expedition. There really isn't a need for the posting, but that doesn't mean a company won't hire if the right person comes along. Somebody, say, from a competitor who would suffer through losing that person.

        I see plenty of EE jobs with highly unusual combinations of required experience. I am not a programmer, I do hardware and mostly analog design at that. In addition to many jobs requiring lots of programming experience in several languages, they also want expertise in PowerPoint, CRM and other corporate software. What the hell would a hardware engineer be doing with, gag, PowerPoint?

        I'd be happy with a field service job where I would get to travel around my local area and be challenged with problems to solve that will differ from day to day (I hope). The trouble is that many of those jobs come with a requirement to also do sales and be measured in the job by the amount of contracts sold. The issue is that if you are working on something like medical equipment, chances are slim that you will wind up face to face with the people that make buying decisions and won't be able to book an appointment with those people on the short notice that goes with field service.

      8. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "The other aspect is foreign manufacturing has essentially killed off the industry here in the UK. Of course, there are still manufacturing of electronic equipment here, but not on the scale of China as an example."

        It's like that in the US as well. It makes it non-viable to go into mass produced items and look for very niche things to make. I've done some specialized triggering devices for cameras and brought in some nice money. A 3D printed enclosure is acceptable although I've tried to make it nice. The guts aren't super high-tech but the device does the job and people are happy to give me money for them. I'd love to sell them by the thousands, but if that were to be noticed, somebody in China would make a poor copy and sell them for half the price. They'd even make a nicer package since they can can tool up much cheaper than I can for injection molding or some other process that produces a much smoother part. I have a few other things I sell that bring in money every month and I have more things on my list to design, build and sell. None of them are likely to be the next iPod or iPhone, but if I can move a few bits of merchandise each month, I'm laughing.

    3. Tom66

      Not a bad idea.

      The problem is university degrees are too focused on the theory and not the practical day to day work of an elec engineer (and this is true for a lot of fields that have a strong practical / vocational aspect).

      I would personally love to see the degree chopped down to two years and have the other two years be in industry. Pass the first two years to get the industry position. You need a great deal of theory to do EE competently, but you don't need to understand semiconductor physics or communications theory in great depth unless you're going to specialise in those fields (in which case, a 4 year course is probably best for these students, but it isn't "electronics engineering" it's "electronics and communication", for instance.)

      In order to complete the degree you'd need to do those 2 years in an accredited org and in return you'd get a living wage salary during your time there. Not big bucks but covers rent so you don't need to accumulate more debt as a student.

      Of course this won't ever happen because the universities love having students there for 4 years. Even when I did a year in industry it was sandwiched in the course, rather than replacing a year.

      1. Binraider Silver badge

        Sandwich courses are excellent. I have loads of people around my department that used it as a gateway into my employer.

        But they do have to be funded, and in sufficient number to keep up with demand.

      2. My-Handle

        This is kind of where I fell down.

        I did Electronics at GCSE and really enjoyed it, so leaped at the chance to do Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Bath. I never finished. A combination of poor lecturers and exceptionally dry subject matter completely killed any kind of passion I had for the subject (try listening to a lecturer with a strong Chinese accent, who didn't give a toss about his subject or students, drone on about signal theory). I also had no idea of what kind of job would be waiting for me at the end, if any.

        I had a decently paying part-time job alongside my degree, so I took that on full time when I dropped out. I landed in software development just because I started writing my own tools to help me in basic data processing office work.

        Overall, Elec Eng just felt like an opportunity I couldn't quite bring myself to take advantage of. I often wish I'd taken CompSci instead and gotten a quicker boost into IT, but sometimes life takes us a roundabout route.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          I'd taken CompSci

          You would probably have a similar experience unfortunately. The key is to learn on your own, do own projects and if you face the wall with anything, ask other students and if they don't know then bug the lecturers.

          These days studying is more like getting an access to a network of like minded people and making use of it.

          1. My-Handle

            I'd agree with that. At that point in my life, I wasn't really good at doing my own learning. It took a mind-numbing office job to bore me into developing that particular skill.

        2. Blank Reg

          I've known quite a few software developers with EE degrees. There are many more job opportunities in software and the potential for higher pay.

        3. tesmith47

          I agree, instructor with foreign accents should NOT BE TEACHING Already HARD SUBJECTS

          1. My-Handle

            Also, one who has a bad habit of inserting " 'kay " into a sentence two or three times should not be dictating complex mathematical formulae.

            His speech was only one of his issues as a lecturer.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            One of my instructors, a Russian Expat was pretty difficult to understand. Nothing to do with the accent. The subject matter alone was sufficient for that; dealing with 2nd order partial differential equations.

            Throwing in communications problems into the mix would have rendered that particular module all but impossible. As things were, how on earth I pulled off a passing grade on that one I don't know. A lot of it was to do with "everyone" failing it; apart from a minority that had the spark to be able to do it on sight.

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "I agree, instructor with foreign accents should NOT BE TEACHING Already HARD SUBJECTS"

            LMAO. That's a huge peeve of mine. I find a tutorial on a topic I need help with and the instructor has an unbelievably thick accent. Trying to read the subtitles and the, ack, PowerPoint slides just makes absorbing the material almost impossible.

        4. gitignore


          What is it with comms lecturers and the inability to make themsenves understood? I had two who you basically had to lip read from, even if sat in the front row - they spoke in standard RP but were so softly spoken you could only tell than in an anechoic chamber. Fascinating subject but damn, the lectures were hard going.

        5. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "A combination of poor lecturers and exceptionally dry subject matter completely killed any kind of passion I had for the subject"

          The right teacher(s) can make a huge difference. I mentor some kids from time to time that are competing in an annual rocketry contest. The teachers I talk to always tell me that the kids get really interested in math and physics because it adds to the fun. Some just won't be good at those, but love the hands on aspects of fabricating the rockets. Being able to make things is a good skillset to have too.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "The problem is university degrees are too focused on the theory and not the practical day to day work of an elec engineer (and this is true for a lot of fields that have a strong practical / vocational aspect)."

        I've had interns where I worked that didn't know what standard screw sizes were. Others had no clue about common metal alloys and would often spec an Aluminium alloy with great characteristics, but it was only made by one foundry, once a year, in two forms, neither of which lent themselves to the design. When asked if 6061-T6 would work, the answer was "Yeah, sure. It'd be fine". An alloy as common as dirt and we may have had the material in-house left over from another project.

        Keep in mind that we only accepted students studying aerospace with at least two year towards their degree.

    4. HammerOn1024

      Too Late

      By the time your planned outreach happens, it's to late.

      One needs to capture hardware minded kids in grade/middle school (US - 5th through 7th grade). Waiting for collage, when the bright kids have already choose their path, is way too late.

      By your method, you'll get the wandering kids that haven't made up their minds. Typically not the mental type one wants in hardware.

    5. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Degree Apprenticeship

      Another alternative to a traditional degree is the Degree Apprenticeship [UCAS link for those in the UK]. It's a mix of study, practical work around the study and is paid.

      Previously we had apprenticeships, these are still there, have been struggling and are seeing a slight upturn. A generation or so of being put down for being "working class" and "not desirable" has hit them, but they are coming back more now. Unfortunately many in industry are unaware and out of practice as a result with what it all entails and the benefits to everyone.

    6. Peter2 Silver badge

      Thought piece. Companies that need electrical and electronic engineers should sponsor promising students through college/university; in return for a contract of service of X years to discourage poaching.

      Leave early; and you repay the costs.

      The company I work for used to sponsor people for training in their industry with this:-

      Leave within 1 year of qualification = pay 100% of the training costs

      Leave after 2 years of qualification = pay 66% of the training costs

      Leave after 3 years of qualification = pay 33% of the training costs

      Leave after 4 years of qualification = pay 0% of the training costs

      We did far more training than other companies in the area, and other companies in our region were always delighted to hire our staff and were generally quite willing to pay the training costs as a hire bonus to get people to move, which suited everybody concerned. The staff member got to move to pastures green, the poaching company got their staff member trained and mentored generally for one or two years (because why poach them in year one when you get a 33% discount if you wait?) and the company recouped a reasonably fair percentage of the costs of people leaving which could go to pay for somebody else to be trained.

      Then somebody came out with some employment court ruling that this form of requirement was a form of indentured servitude and illegal. Staff were happy with the employer paying out an amount that in 2000 was enough to buy a low end house, and then qualifying and quitting shortly afterwards and getting a job elseware with the benefit of the qualification leaving the company having paid the money and not getting any benefit of the training.

      Wonderful for the staff though, right? No, actually. The relatively companies doing training decided that spending the money for the training was a high risk activity under these circumstances, and stopped offering training on this basis. A few years later, nobody was doing any training for anybody other than long term staff members and people were expected to pay for their own training if they wanted to move up the career ladder. Which of course only people well off already can afford, so it completely screws people who don't have wealthy families and structurally embeds inequality.

      I know people who didn't have wealthy families who our company trained who now run their own companies who must be making millions a year. There are precisely zero avenues today in our industry for somebody to do the same from the same background.

      Whatever the flaws of the old system I would think that they would have been better managed through some form of watchdog with the power to eliminate the contract in case of abuse than utter abolition of the system.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        If you don't want people to leave, just pay them enough so they don't think of it.

        Staff were happy with the employer paying out an amount that in 2000 was enough to buy a low end house, and then qualifying and quitting shortly afterwards and getting a job elseware with the benefit of the qualification leaving the company having paid the money and not getting any benefit of the training.

        So according to your table, a freshly trained employee would have made the company an equivalent of a low end house in just 3 years? But you got upset that they were leaving, so it would suggest that someone was getting ripped off and something tells me it wasn't the employer...

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Most people tool 3/4 years doing the course and worked for the company while qualifying so that'd be over 6 or 7 years, and houses were relatively cheaper in 2000 than they are now. But, yes.

          We didn't get upset that they were leaving; if you read the paragraph on from the table then I specifically note that everybody concerned was happy with the old arrangement.

          The current arrangement is that only people who already have well off families can afford to finance the training which structurally embeds inequality, and this appears the opposite of what we say we are intending to do as a society.

    7. Number6

      I've had that, sponsorship with an agreement to stick around for a couple of years post-graduation. Gave me chance to learn the real world in an environment where I'd gotten to know people while a student and expected to make mistakes. Seemed perfectly reasonable to me, although a more recent variant regarding relocation expenses and a promise to stick around for a bit prompted me to push back and tell them to add in a line to say that it only applied if I left, not if they decided to make me redundant, in which case they could eat the cost. That's what real world experience gives you, the awareness of what can happen, and the confidence to insist on precautions.

      On the other hand, I get a lot of recruiters wanting to talk to me, so I reckon the shortage is real. I always reckoned I'd have ten years before there was a surge of new people but it's been {mumble} years longer than that.

    8. Real Ale is Best

      I was sponsored as you have described. I was very happy with the arrangement.

      Technology moved on, and they retrained me in software, eventually programming windows apps.

      I program in PHP nowadays, but maybe I should look at hardware again if it is in such high demand.

    9. io91

      As some note, money has a lot to do with the solution as it usually does in capitalist economies. The way to address the shortage is to pay EEs at the level of other professions. Some headline starting salaries such as were advertised by a major law/consulting firm of £125K a few days ago would draw attention to the profession.

      Within the UK I think we still suffer from the aftermath of the old cost plus contracts of 40 years ago where the business model was to pay tiny salaries, thus attract less capable graduates and drag contracts out to generate perpetual cash flow and thus ensure continuity of dividends.

      We also suffer from the unwillingness to finance high return startups.

      So I as much as the engineering community would like to encourage more in their own likeness, I think within the UK the solution lies with the Boardrooms of industry and in the policymakers in government.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "We also suffer from the unwillingness to finance high return startups."

        We also suffer from the unwillingness to finance high return/high risk startups.


    10. mistersaxon

      Umm… apprenticeship?

      This is what you’re describing - you get them working while they’re learning so they and you both know what you’re getting into. One of my kids is doing this at Rutherford Appleton and there aren’t many cooler, geekier places to work.

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      40 and Gone

      I observed multiple of my friends, all good at what they do, who were employed at Intel until they were a bit past 40 years old, and not in management. Musical chairs, musical chairs, the music stops and there's no job for you (them).

      The smoke-screen Intel used was "departmental re-orgs"; they were invited to apply for other jobs at Intel, but none of them passed the interviews. Very, very odd, that.

      Why would anyone choose EE as a career when the technical track is, these days, clearly a dead-end?

      Anon, because.

  2. Mike 125

    6 here!

    "Your granny's radio had maybe 10 transistors"

    My granny's has 6, (1 RF, 2 IF, and 3 AF).

    And it gets the cricket just fine. For now. LW is being switched off. Because it's old. Like my granny.

    In a nutshell: electronics is hard sums. People don't want to do those anymore. Javascript is so much more fun.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 6 here!

      @Mike 125

      Hmm, was I posh and didn't realise until now? My late 60's tranny has 9 of them.

      Made by Fidelity and still in daily use. Ah, the days of the Tony Blackburn show, complete with knocking knees, Arnold and deliberately wrong timschecks...

      1. Data Mangler

        Re: 6 here!

        Many late sixties radios had more than six transistors, but some of them used a transistor as the detector diode and any in excess of this were non-functioning devices just soldered on to the pcb for bragging rites. Hong Kong made radios were the worst for this practice.

    2. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: 6 here!

      "Your granny's radio had maybe 10 transistors"

      My granny's has 6, (1 RF, 2 IF, and 3 AF).

      My crystal set had just one diode.

      1. cantankerous swineherd

        Re: 6 here!

        that would be the cat's whisker?

        1. Woodnag

          Re: 6 here!

          We lived in cardboard box in middle of road, and radio had the mutt's nuts because we couldn't afford a cat's whisker.

          1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

            Re: 6 here!

            We were so poor we had to use one of dad's fillings for the detector. We were heartbroken when his tooth fell out.

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

              Re: 6 here!

              We 'ad a lump of coal & a nail that grandad had brought back from Stalag XIIIC after he was released, t'war had been over for years, but he said the food there were better than grandma's offerings.

              1. adam 40 Silver badge

                Re: 6 here!

                You was lookeh!! We had lump of coke for us detector, until Westbrook came by and snorted t'coke!

    3. tatatata

      Re: 6 here!

      Our oldest radio had 3 tubes. And as far as the transistor-count: a typical class-b power amplifier had 3 transistors, so that would, for e stereo, mean 6 transistors only to get the sound to the speakers. So, 10 transistors would be a fairly accurate estimation.

      Never did much radio myself. I was more into triacs and thyristors. After uni, I couldn't get a job in that field and salaries in IT were extremely high at that time. So, that's why I left the hardware department.

  3. TonyJ

    I started my career as an electronics engineer

    When I did my degree at the closing end of the 1980's surface mounted components were not particularly readily available yet - we were just starting to see some of them creep in.

    You could usually find a schematic (circuit) diagram of whatever it is you wanted to fix and, usually, source a suitable compatible [e.g.] transistor to replace the ones in your faulty radio/TV.

    Then came surface mount components and expensive kit needed to do a repair.

    And now everything is on a single chip or two. Almost always a custom component. Almost always impossible to source or source an alternative due to being custom and frankly unavailable.

    And it's crap. It adds to landfill when you can't just repair something.

    As for me - I changed direction in 1997. Until then I was working in workshops performing component level repairs and having fun. And then I saw an advert for a Dell (might have been an Optiplex) with a 15" CRT *and* a 3 year on site warranty for less than we sold a three year return to base warranty. And that's when I knew repairing kit was on its way out.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

      Then came surface mount components and expensive kit needed to do a repair.

      That's really no longer the case. For a price of a new phone you can get a respectable kit, with trinocular microscope, soldering and hot air station etc.

      Also surface mount components are much much easier to work with it.

      1. TonyJ

        Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

        @elsergiovolador - would you be so kind as to point me in the right direction of some such offerings? I've been toying with getting back into electronics as a hobby and it'd be handy to get some information on such things from someone already in the know.

        1. NewModelArmy

          Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

          For a stereo microscope, i used the BM! from :

          Quite cheap at £192 starting price.

          For soldering, i have a Weller soldering station - they are expensive, so cannot recommend an alternative since i have not tried.

          I purchased a hot air workstation from Farnell - very cheap and good quality, with many attachments (paid extra).

        2. Roger Greenwood

          Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

          You could start here (Electronics tools for beginners):-

        3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer


          Professional 3.5X-45X Simul Focal Trinocular Microscope Complete Table Clamp

          (you can shop around there, if you need a different clamp etc. all scopes are pretty much the same just different accessories)

          Hot air

          Quick 861DW Hot Air Rework Station 1000W

          Soldering station

          FX-888D Digital Soldering Station

          Good oscilloscopes you can get at Rigol, for multi meters you can't go wrong with Brymen and they are quite affordable, you can get them here.

          You can go for cheaper Chinese knock offs, but from experience these things break or aren't accurate, so you are not really saving money.

        4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

          I forgot - it's very useful to have a thermal camera, especially for troubleshooting. For instance, when you turn on a device you can instantly see what may be wrong with it by just looking at the thermal footprint of the components and which may not be obvious to naked eye or to touch.

          These unfortunately are quite expensive still, but doable under £500.

          Something like this will do just fine.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

            My Covid point and click thermometer has an alternative setting for measuring the temperature of an "object". Useful when trying to determine if a coreless motor's 3D printed enclosure was likely to melt.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

              "My Covid point and click thermometer has an alternative setting for measuring the temperature of an "object""

              Measuring a temp is fine, but having a thermal image of a whole PCB can be far more informative.

          2. H in The Hague

            Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

            "it's very useful to have a thermal camera, especially for troubleshooting"

            An "imaging thermometer" is even cheaper. I've got


            and RS have an own brand unit which is cheaper still.

            Also, speaking from experience, handy for tracing pipes in the wall if a metal detector doesn't pick them up (e.g. modern polymer pipes).

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

            "it's very useful to have a thermal camera, "

            The CAT S61 phone has a built in thermal camera. Even if you don't add a SIM, just the phone can be good value for money using the IR camera, the environmental sensors and some electronics apps. The camera is ok for documenting stuff.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

        "Also surface mount components are much much easier to work with it."

        I would never go that far. Trying to replace a component is a dance between getting it cleanly off the board and not damaging nearby components. Some multi-layer boards are fantastic heat sinks and hold off the most aggressive hot air guns.

        I have a microscope, hot air gun, heated platform and ceramic tweezers, but I still prefer larger through hole components when I need to repair things. it's also easier to modify and bodge. I can recall some very funky PC assemblies where the goal posts got shifted after I'd sent the files out to have boards made. I wound up stacking chips, adding a daughter board and soldering wires here and there to be able to hand over a working proto. I did design a new PCB that incorporated the last minute changes, but I don't think I would have been able to "craft" what I did if the original was all surface mount.

        Lots of very useful ICs are surface mount only these days so there isn't always a choice of form factor. I do try to get the largest package as I can to make life easy if I need to make repairs or modifications. A current project has the surface mount ICs on a carrier board that fans out to an old fashioned 8pin dip. It gives me lots of room for changes until I finalize the design and bake in all of the changes. In the mean time, I can fabricate some sample units by hand and get them out in the field for testing.

    2. My-Handle

      Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

      Some stuff you can repair, with a bit of luck and persistence. I managed to fix a washing machine a few years ago, when it's door lock decided to stay locked. Opening up the machine, I managed to find a broken component on the mainboard and looked up the code on the internet. Thus I found out what a varistor was. A little bit of research later, I ordered a replacement part, soldered it on to the board and it came back to life (for another couple of years). Did something similar with the other half's standing dryer a few weeks ago (she's a dog groomer). The thing had blown the drive cap for it's fan, molten aluminium everywhere :). That didn't even need solder to swap out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

        A neighbour's microwave oven had locked shut. Managed to remove the casing which had one anti-tamper Torx variant screw. The screw has a central protrusion that needs a mating hole in the screwdriver bit to allow it to seat in the Torx splines

        The problem was simply part of the door lock button was thin plastic and had snapped with fatigue from the button being repeatedly pushed to its full travel limit. Plenty of room for the part to have been made more robust. Added a block of plastic with superglue. Actually a defunct X2 capacitor that was the right size.

        Put it all back together and tested it. Seemed ok. Ran the microwave sensor over it - "bleep!". The door hinge setting needed an obvious slight realignment to make a good seal. Nothing had been disturbed - so must have been leaking there for a long time.

        So two impulse buy tools came in useful. The set of games consoles strange screwdriver bits - and the microwave sensor.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

          Re: security Torx screws.

          If you don't have the proper bit, take a small flat blade screwdriver, put the blade against the center pin and give it a whack. Often the pin will break off at the base. If not on the first whack, the second one will do it.

          If, for some reason, you want to do it right, Amazon sells an assortment of Chinese tool sets that will fit anything ever designed, for around $30. Mine's in a blue case, with some six character name, and seems quite well designed.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

            "Amazon sells an assortment of Chinese tool sets that will fit anything ever designed"

            You can get those sets everywhere so it's possible to avoid Amazon. What gets me is why the companies even bother with the security screws anymore. I have a couple of sets that covers everything I've come across thus far. I'm sure some highly paid engineer working for Apple will come up with yet another one and a week later there will be a driver available on Alibaba and eBay that fits it included in a kit with every other odd fastener that Apple has tried. Whack-A-Mole Pro version.

  4. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "The electronics have sunk out of sight"

    I've been saying this for years now, and several successive attempts I've made over the last few decades to re-introduce hands-on experimentation with hardware into curricula have fallen on completely deaf ears. Hardware is taken for granted and typically grossly over-specified for the task (as indeed is the code in most instances).

    Starting from a background in early 8-bit microprocessors and working on embedded systems, I got used to optimising the hardware to suit the task and writing efficient code within a 4-8 kb space. It was (is) quite hard to achieve, but is the only way to become adequately versed in the core principles required for real engineering (as opposed to kludging together something that just 'works'). Unfortunately, our current educational practice deprecates this in favour of what is merely easy to 'teach' and do. This puts the future of our technologies in jeopardy as it leaves critical skills (not just hardware skills but thinking skills) for engineering untaught.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: "The electronics have sunk out of sight"

      Not just "east to teach" but more cheap to teach. No expensive labs and technicians to pay to keep it all going, etc.

      So often have I heard folks say "but the simulation worked!" when it fails to work in practice, and then they have no clue about what to do to sort out the gap between simulated behaviour and real-world parts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "The electronics have sunk out of sight"

        One of our engineering managers had an adage for when youngsters thought a Spice simulation was all that was necessary. He would tell them: "Simulation is like masturbation. The results seem so good you forget it is not the real thing". RIP Maurice.

      2. nautica Silver badge

        Re: "The electronics have sunk out of sight"

        "I don't care if it works on your machine; we're not shipping 'your machine'."---anon

    2. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: "The electronics have sunk out of sight"

      Why learn how to do stuff, when an API takes care of it for you...!

      I obviously do not subscribe to that philosophy; I'd much rather have tight code and understanding of how things actually work (therefore understand how to fix) than just endless layers of abstraction on top of each other.

      Such is the way computing has gone. Even Raspberry Pi territory using the GPIO you're probably still going through an awful lot of abstraction on top rather than working with the hardware per se. At least it is a relatively accessible system to play with hardware as opposed to closed box consoles that you can do sweet FA with.

    3. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: "The electronics have sunk out of sight"

      After doing electronics as a hobby in the 70's and 80's, it took a back seat until recently when I got interested in PIC chips and programming them

      However whilst they are great at producing really complex projects that discrete electronics would have struggled at, it seems that everything has a Pi or some other "module" at the heart of it leaving little - if anything - for newcomers to learn the trade.

    4. NXM Silver badge

      Re: "The electronics have sunk out of sight"

      You've just quoted my job description for the last 30 years - I still write assembler for cheap pic's and design, manufacture, and sell the devices I make using my own smd line. I make a decent living out of it.

      And yet there's hardly anyone else who understands what I do. It's like my job has been made illegal and nobody told me.

      In these very pages, another commentard told me my view about how digital sampling and output works, gained from my hard experience, was "bollocks" and in evidence linked a thoroughly fraudulent and ill-informed video on YouTube.

      OK friend, try it for yourself and see how simple it is. It isn't like what you see in the internets.

  5. RockBurner

    T'was ever the case.

    How many steam engineers are still about eh?

    1. TonyJ


      T'was ever the case.

      How many steam engineers are still about eh?..."

      Well... first off, a lot - high pressure steam is used in food manufacturing, power stations etc - I suspect your question is more "how many steam engine (trains) engineers are there?"

      And secondly, you are comparing apples and oranges - there are fewer steam engineers because there are fewer steam engines. By extension you would be suggesting there's less electrical/electronics...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A structural engineer once explained that part of his speciality was potential explosions. He bemoaned the fact that when he had to crawl inside steam boilers - it was not only dirty work but invariably during a hot summer plant shutdown.

  6. Andy 73 Silver badge

    Poor pay, much work sent over seas

    I'm under the distinct impression that elec engineers are paid relatively poorly compared to software jobs, often have far more sporadic employment and can see basic design work offshored to the places where the stuff is actually built (i.e. Asia).

    Our son is looking at University courses. One of the things that he (rightfully) considers is - what are the jobs like once you've graduated. Does it pay well? There may be a shortage of graduates, but if the job looks uninspiring, guess where people go? It's no longer good enough to say "but this stuff is fun"... it is, but so are a lot of tech roles, and people go where they can see the reward.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor pay, much work sent over seas

      There may be a UK shortage of good graduates in certain fields. A recent statistic about employment potential found that too many ended up in the proverbial "...with fries?"

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Poor pay, much work sent over seas

      "One of the things that he (rightfully) considers is - what are the jobs like once you've graduated."

      Yes, very important not to only follow your passion, but good opportunities. EE's can still make good money, but it could be that companies that used to pay their EE's good wages don't anymore and have outsourced much of the work they used to do elsewhere. That doesn't mean there aren't companies that do pay well. Those might be companies or even industries that one may have never thought of. Combinations of skills can be well compensated too. An ME that's specialized in rotating machinery might earn a premium over somebody else with an ME and no specialty. I know somebody that took that route and has done very well for HERself.

      Another approach might be to look at an industry or product you really like and then look at the sorts of jobs that go with it. Big companies often hire frequently so keeping an eye on the sorts of positions the advertise might suggest some good avenues of study. You could work for an F1 team without needing to be a stand out as a mechanic if that's the sort of place you want to be.

  7. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    What they could do to help is name the damn courses properly. When I went to uni in the '80s I'd been programming computers and building add-on hardware and writing drivers to drive it for over five years. Natually I want to "do computing" at university, and entered a "computing" course.

    I then spent three years wondering "when are we going to do some, y'know, *actual* computing?" It was almost all what I'd call "typing skills". It was only in my final semester that I got on to "actual computing" as I thought of it, building a centronics printer interface and writing the driver, writing a PDP11 assembler. The sort of stuff I'd done five years earlier myself before uni. My to-become-wife was doing more of what I considered "computing" in her one-year ICT course! In her *ONE-YEAR* course she was writing a CPU emulator/disassembler/monitor/disassembler project. Why wasn't I doing that three years ago, the sort of stuff I'd done SEVEN years ago by that point.

    What I realised years later is what I should have done was an "electrical engineering" course. If you'd told me that when I was 18 I'd have been flabberghasted. "I don't want to be an electrician, I want to program computers!" But this is the frustrating thing. The courses are all named the wrong thing. "Computing" is called electrical engineering, "typing" is called computing. No wonder the profession is in such a mess.

    1. Tom66

      I completed an Electronics and Electrical Engineering degree at a major red brick university and this was similar to my experience.

      When are we going to go from boring white boards to actually solving problems?

      It wasn't until fourth year that we picked up soldering irons for real. I'd had many years prior as this was a hobby as well as a field of study for me, but for most students, this was their first time.

      And after that year they were expected to go out into the big wide world and get a Real Job(TM)... most of them having little to no practical experience. No knowledge of PCB stackup and manufacture (we'd done machined in-house PCBs only, which -no one- does in industry). Limited experience to the process of board bringup and test. Virtually no debugging of circuits when things don't work, or understanding common failure modes.

      But we did know about the precise physics of laser diodes, so there's that, I suppose. Really useful stuff.

      1. My-Handle

        We got hands-on in our first year at Elec Eng. The downside was that the teacher of that particular course just set us a spec, then ignored the lot of us until it came time to check and grade whatever we'd built. Funnily enough, although I'm reasonably sure our design should have worked, I didn't really understand how to test the various bits. So we just built the entire thing, then were flummoxed when it didn't work.

        A few basic tips on testing individual elements of a circuit before going for the final build, or even debugging a "finished" board, would have done wonders.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Such university courses always tend to be well behind the curve. I remember one day talking to a well-known professor in Computing at a university that was a leader in the field. He had never heard of the reprogrammable Xilinx FPGAs that I was building into one of our networking products to do some heavy lifting for the 286 cpu. That innovation saved us a fortune by not having to redevelop a proven design to use the more expensive 386.

        I loaned him one of our development kits - but never heard anything more.

    2. Contrex

      I don't want to be an electrician

      "what I should have done was an "electrical engineering" course. If you'd told me that when I was 18 I'd have been flabberghasted. "I don't want to be an electrician"

      That sort of talk used to drive my dad mad. After the war he took an EE degree as an external student while working for the London Electricity Board. He retired as their Area manager for a large district of London. The Board took power from the national Grid and managed its distribution at 66, 33, 11 kV and eventual supply to consumers, commercial and domestic. It is not a simple task to keep an AC power network running. He ordered the gear and cable, oversaw the management of the network, commissioned equipment, including gigantic transformers and amazing switchgear which he sometimes took me to see ('Don't touch anything!'). Sometimes when people heard he was an electrical engineer they'd offer him a tenner to wire up their new cooker.

      1. My-Handle

        Re: I don't want to be an electrician

        How many senior devs around here get asked if they could pop over to a friend's place to fix their laptop? Or phone? Or just throw together a website for something token?

        That kind of thing is definitely an inter-disciplinary phenomenon :D

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: I don't want to be an electrician

        But that's exactly what I mean. At 18 an "Electrical Engineering" course would be telling me that was the path to becoming something "big" in the *electricity* industry, certainly nothing to do with microprocessor interfacing and programming, what I and my peers back then called "computing". But we (and the careers advisors) didn't realise that "computing" isn't that, "computing" is akin to "driving" not "automotive engineering".Nobody told us, and none of us realised, that "computing" is "driving a car", and we should have been working out what the equivalent of "automotive engineering" was.

        On top of which, when I got to university I was gobsmacked to find the "computing" faciltities were about ten years behind my ZX Spectrum and a five-year-old BBC micro!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't want to be an electrician

        One of the long standing oddities is that as an engineer in one of the orgs that were spun off the CEGB; legally speaking I cannot touch domestic wiring or fuseboards. Yet I write work instructions and risk assessments for devices that are very much of the "it'll-kill-you-if-you-even-get-close-to-it" category...

        These days I am more in asset management than hands on, but it is a hell of a learning curve to take the responsibility for keeping people safe from the system.

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: I don't want to be an electrician

          After uni I did C&G Electrical Engineering and Installation, and got a distinction, but because I haven't handed over dosh to prove I've understood the 17th 18th are we on 19th yet? I'm not allowed to certify my own work. :(

          And don't get me started on bloody Part P....

      4. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: I don't want to be an electrician

        Engineering degree courses are a lot of work across a lot of disciplines, with electronic engineering being particularly diverse. The theoretical side covers signal, information, semiconductor devices, optical and electromagnetic theory, so your math better be good. There's any amount of building-block knowledge needed, analogue and digital, across the spectrum from millimetric RF to high-energy power engineering. And then you have to know how to apply it all to real-world problems.

        I studied that for 5 years , graduated. ("Mechatronics" )

        nobody seemed to want to employ me at it so drifted into computers.

        I *thought* if I just something incredibly difficult , technical , and vital to the modern world as we know it , I'd be well rewarded for it . seems not .

  8. Duncan Macdonald

    Even in the 1970s computing paid better than engineering

    I studied electrical engineering in university but it became obvious that computing paid far better so I moved into programming and made little use of my electrical/electronic knowledge is my working career. (I did use it when simulating equipment - it was better to follow the circuit diagrams of the equipment being simulated rather than the imprecise text description. I also used it once to work out why a bit of supplied equipment was erratic - the supplier was trying to use 250ns memory with 200ns timing. I pointed this out to the supplier and once the 250ns memory was replaced by 150ns memory the units worked flawlessly.)

    Unfortunately this county has not valued engineers for at least the last 50 years. (On the other hand parasites such as lawyers and politicians are way overvalued.)

    The modern idea that everything is disposable also drains enthusiasm among engineers and people considering engineering as a career. Good engineers take pride in their work and like to see their work in use for many years, if they know that the product they are working on will be discarded without a thought after a couple of years it depresses them.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking as a former electronic engineers, there are 3 main, interlinked reasons for this:

    1. Pay levels have stagnated for well over a decade and are now pathetic compared to software salaries:

    EE salary:

    Average £30k/year

    DevOps Engineer Salary:

    Average £44k


    Average £60k a year

    I know from experience that in the London area, you'll be lucky to get a DevOps engineer that can tie their own shoelaces for £44k a year.

    2. The work is no longer in the UK. 20 years ago, there were well over 20 companies designing, prototyping and occasionally building phones in the Thames Valley area. Now, there's only a handful of relatively small operations like Bullitt in Reading. They have 216 employees in the UK according to LinkedIn. Nokia in Farnborough alone had 900 engineers. Those design houses had entire eco systems around them, all gone in the past 2 decades. Demand for the skills has plummeted.

    3. EE design work is primarily in Asia (primarily Korea, Taiwan, China) now. 20 years ago. The design work followed the manufacturing.

    In my opinion, #3 is the root cause of the hollowing out of EE in the west. Is it something we should lament and try to repatriate? Don't really know. Certainly feels like we shouldn't have left it go without a fight, but that ship has sailed.

    The UK used to be a global leader in mobile phone design. That should have been a position it should have defended, but it didn't. I'm pretty confident the UK will never regain that position.

    1. Tom66

      That EE salary probably doesn't consider the sub fields of EE.

      I have more than twice that salary 4 years post graduation and I'm pretty sure I could be touching on £100k going by job ads and discussing with some friends in the same field. My job title is officially "senior" electronics engineer but really I have a lot of focus in FPGA and some in software and project management. Schematic/PCB work is still done by me, but probably only a day or two in any given month.

      So the curve is extremely wide, a junior might get £30k but a principal FPGA + proj mgmt + software monkey that understands h/w could be going on for £100k in even a small firm because we're really valuable and there's no many out there that can do all competently, without tooting my own horn too much.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        a principal FPGA + proj mgmt + software monkey that understands h/w could be going on for £100k

        That's doing jobs of 3 people, where each one could pull £100k and then £100k is not much these days. It won't give you a life you would expect after sacrificing so much to learn everything that is needed.

        1. Tom66

          It's still a 37 hour per week job, so does it matter if it's three different specialisms? I'd get *bored* focused on just one thing all the time.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            It's where freelancing works. You can be three different people at the same time and each billing different client.

        2. Jilara

          a principal FPGA + proj mgmt + software monkey that understands h/w could be going on for £100k

          That's doing jobs of 3 people, where each one could pull £100k and then £100k is not much these days. It won't give you a life you would expect after sacrificing so much to learn everything that is needed.


          I worked through the crash and years afterwards debugging emulator output, doing system testing (had to come in at 2 am to configure cables on the emulator), writing documentation, and managing two employees in India (without managerial credit-pay, as you weren't a manager unless you managed 8+ employees). There were some other minor tasks as well, like writing a help system and maintaining C++ programs whose authors had been let go. By wearing multiple hats, I kept my job when all about were losing theirs. I was making close to $100k a year when the Great Recession removed our entire department. Then I didn't work for 2 years, and found that hardware was paying about $35/hour at that point.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The OP again, posting as an Anon Coward for obvious reasons.

        As hiring manager in my previous team, £100k was not at all unusual for an SRE.

        The high level senior guys were in the £150k-£200k range.

        That said, good to hear some corners of the EE world are doing well. I'd imagine that with the reduce in supply as people like me find other careers, the salaries for top talent go up again. I was gutted to leave the industry about 10 years ago, was a very rough transition, good to hear there's light at the end of the tunnel for those who toughed it out.

  10. david 12 Silver badge

    demographic hump

    All the jobs were held by the older baby-boomers, from the post war years. There weren't any older people, because the field was new, and there weren't many jobs for the nominally 'boomer' kids born in the late 50's. For decades, the industry has supported engineering training only as means of driving down the cost of engineers, by creating a surplus, and it gradually sunk in: there is no money for junior staff, and no realistic prospect of promotion.

    Now all those old guys are retiring, and that's taking out the entire industry.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: demographic hump

      In my experience - all the youngsters who showed promise soon realised that the career path for trouble-shooting IT systems needed a lot of HW/SW/comms knowledge and experience. They quickly moved their sights to the higher pay in the management streams.

      1. Jilara

        Re: demographic hump

        For those of us who are female, management generally wasn't something we found attainable. A few years ago, I moved to software for a while, for the higher pay. While there, I attended a conference for women in tech. I was one of the only two women, software or hardware, who had stayed in tech for 30 years. There were NO hardware-savvy women, like there were when I started. At. All. Presumably because others experienced what I did: inability to advance, if not outright discrimination. (In the '80's I knew two female electrical design engineers who resigned because they were treated so patronizingly.) Let's just say you didn't necessarily have to be black to experience "Hidden Figures" moments.

        1. adam 40 Silver badge

          Re: demographic hump

          I know a few female electronics engineers, some quite specialist (RF too).

          But you're right, the proportion is very low, maybe 5% or so.

          I did a computing/electronics joint degree, and did end up mainly in computing, but the electronics side of it has always been present, and now I'm more on the embedded side of things working with pure electronics engineers it does make the whole exercise run more smoothly.

          If you want to get back into it I can recommend getting a microcontroller, Pi/Arduino/ESP32/STM etc and then designing some electronics to hang off it, to interface with something, and the power supply etc. Make yourself a nice little project.

        2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Re: demographic hump

          Good on ya for sticking it out and proving the (male) bastards wrong! Do what you love and show them you can do it better than they can.

          As a male EE, I have run across only a few female hardware engineers, but they have all been first class and wonderful to work with. I wish we had more, because it makes no sense to discourage half of the potential talent pool. One woman we got back because she was treated poorly at her new company by a manager who did not believe women should be in engineering. As she was very talented, we welcomed her back.

  11. Locomotion69

    There is a reason for those extra transistors

    as they make your device not only doing Job X for you, but restrict it doing so only when there is a hidden connection to some cloudy space on the Interweb which is cut off one day and updates your device to yet-another-brick.

    I grab my coat....

  12. Licensed_Radio_Nerd

    Former Electronics Engineer here...

    Spent 4 years on day-release from the day-job to study BTEC National, then Higher National Certificate in Electronics Engineering. I can fault-find to component level on a variety of electronic systems. I have designed my own little circuits as part of my Amateur Radio hobby; as well as repair radios/amplifiers/PSUs for other Radio Amateurs who lack the skills/kit/etc. I work in IT. Why? In this throw-away society, no-one wants to spend money on having things repaired, so there is no call for my complex electronics skill-set. As other have suggested, there is also little in the way of financial reward for those skills. I gained a £10k pay-increase by switching to IT back in the 90s.

    I would love to get back into electronics as IT, with its constant beta software, and everything in the cloud, is driving me nuts. I cannot get back into electronics as few want to pay decent money, they do not understand the skill-set that can come with Amateur Radio, and I have not worked in commercial electronics for years, so what would I know about modern soldering standards?!

    There are people out there that could fill the roles. You need to pay more, respect Engineers and Technicians, and offer catch-up training instead of trying to grab people off the shelf who are ready to "go". The latter point also applies to all roles, especially senior ones! Too much word matching and CVs being filed in the "no" pile as the people recruiting do not know the difference between a red Cat5e patch lead and a blue Cat5e patch lead!

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Former Electronics Engineer here...

      Usually, if there was no job available that you wanted to have, the way was to create one for yourself.

      But government is doing everything it can to kill off small business.

      1. GreyWolf

        "government is doing everything it can to kill off small business"


        This is what IR35 is doing - making it impossible to start a company through consulting.

        Nothing wrong with HMRC that wouldn't be fixed by nuking it and starting again.

    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: Former Electronics Engineer here...

      C&G 224 Electronics (Industrial) Pt2 & Microcomputer systems Pt3 done in the second year, then jumped on a HNC in Electronic Engineering, there was supposed to be a higher percentage of computers in the course content, this translated to PLC's, CNC's, hydraulics & pneumatics, a programming lecturer that gave us about 45 - 1 hour actual programming experience & long rainy afternoons listening to him drone on in a thick Polish accent about his pet subject of partial address decoding.

      I got out of electronics around 98* (Jumping back into computers/IT), I had to work the week & weekend mornings just to stay afloat financially with mortgage (Negative equity, poll tax) wife & young kids to support for a job that paid more in IT building PC's with no weekend work.

      I have got back into Electronics to a extent via a different hobby, my current role also requires it to a as yet unspecified involvement along with legacy tech (RS232 Interfacing), My heart isn't really in it, eyes are shot to buggery with a half dead hand.

      I & hopefully a junior in the near future will be taking on the workload of some of the existing staff who are taking early retirement, the irony is I'm older than they are**. I was asked this morning my long term goals as they are clearly prepping for that to happen sooner rather than later & with new younger staff on other aspects of Technical Operations.

      * The factory was in terminal decline, when I had started there 7\8 years earlier, they shipped the Young Free & Single Techs to Bracknell & offered them higher graded positions to relocate, they declined as there was fresh incoming management that had "assured" them they would be offered the same prospects, which unsurprisingly never came. I had no desire to be fighting with anyone else for roles when the inevitable happened.

      ** My current title includes the word Senior, I keep (half) joking that's exactly what they got when they hired me.

  13. JDPower666

    The headline talks about electrical engineers, then the article goes on to talk about electronic engineers. They are not the same thing.

    And speaking as an ex electronic repair engineer, the repair side is a career dead end now. There is very little expertise involved in repairing any more, you just open it up and replace the board with the fault on it. When I qualified it was a skilled job, now anyone with a screwdriver and a basic level of aptitude can do it without any qualifications (hence why every man and his dog has opened a mobile phone repair shop in recent years)

    1. Fred Dibnah

      "The headline talks about electrical engineers, then the article goes on to talk about electronic engineers. They are not the same thing."

      Indeed, although the IET muddies the waters - I am an electronics graduate and work in electronic engineering, yet according to the IET I am a Chartered Electrical Engineer.

    2. Sudosu Bronze badge

      It is interesting that you mention the repair side dying.

      My nearly retired Electronics Engineering Technician instructor in the early 90's despaired that TV repair was turning into just replacing circuit boards.

      It has gone so much further than that now as you note.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        A colleague of mine on the HNC course back in the 80's had already seen that trend happening with his employer (A local old school TV Shop) equipping his "younger techs" with the boards required & if that failed to work bring the set back to him. He was the last of the old style apprentices.

  14. FlamingDeath Silver badge


    Gamblers != investors

    Shareholders = someone holding something

    Last time I checked, cupboards and tables are great objects at holding something.

    We need to as a matter of urgency, reshape what we value, and shareholders bring nothing to the table except the mind of a gambler

    Parents, invest in their children

    There is no such thing as investing into a company.

    It’s a bit like saying I invested (placed a bet) on that horse winning a race

    Values, do we have any, anymore?

  15. Furious Reg reader John

    It's the economy, stupid

    I'm a Chartered Engineer with a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. As soon as I had my Chartered application in, I left engineering to get a much better paid job. Two fun years working hard in a steelworks, followed by two much easier years at a firm of consulting engineers, but by then friends from uni with crap degrees were getting paid way more than me. Why on earth would I stay?

    My son is about to go off to uni to do a Mech Eng degree. If he doesn't get his dream job in F1 when he graduates, I'll be pointing him in the direction of some other non-engineering sector. You might as well get paid well, even if it isn't as satisfying. It's a bit strange when other industries value the skills engineers have far more than the engineering industry does.

    Why work hard in engineering when you get paid crap? If you don't fix that part of the equation, then the result is the shortages we can see now. It will get a lot worse before there is any meaningful change, and by then it will probably be too late.

    1. herman

      Re: It's the economy, stupid

      Pay is reasonable in the military aerospace industry. The rest is a dead end.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: It's the economy, stupid

      "My son is about to go off to uni to do a Mech Eng degree. If he doesn't get his dream job in F1 when he graduates, I'll be pointing him in the direction of some other non-engineering sector. "

      He may want to look outside of the classic places one might work after getting an engineering degree. At one point I was looking into a job with the USGS. Mostly you'd think they'd be a gang of geologists that hit rocks with hammers all day, but they have departments that design, develop and deploy all manner of measuring devices. The trick for a job like that might be a related degree to go with the engineering. An old roommate got tired of being a nurse and while off in another country with her boyfriend where she wasn't allowed to work, she got a student visa and spend time getting her MBA. The combination of the nursing and business degrees landed her a bunch of sweet jobs in the medical industry where most of the business people are at a complete loss on how to pronounce medical terms and understand how the products they make are used. A couple of languages tacked on won't go amiss.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The enlightenmed

    Amongst us hire undergrads at the end of year one and pay their fees and give them interesting work. The usual suspects whine, then make themselves feel better by "earnings" bonuses for keeping their budgets lower.

  17. steelpillow Silver badge

    Who in the West needs electronics engineers (plural) any more? Gone are the days when a thousand electronic products needed a thousand designers. The physicists update the device design, the AI lays out the chip, the fab technicians make identical billions of them, one real engineer lays out the Raspberry Pi circuit board and thousands of companies clip one into their prototype, order a crateload and and fire up their fave dev tool. Somewhere in Taiwan or China is another real engineer keeping the range of switched-mode power supplies up to date. Icon for what I did years ago.

  18. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    It's the salaries, supid!

    Big companies have succeeded in their desire to pay the grubby nerds middling pay for stellar minds.

    Now that's no longer possible, they bleat about "labour shortage".

    I got sponsored to do my Electronics degree. I then got pretty stellar pay rises for the first few years at the company I was sponsored by. My starting salary (allowing for inflation) was what is on offer now for positions with 3 or more years experience in new, vital technologies.

    So, until companies start investing in talent, they will come up short.

    But... if they pay wet-behind-the-ears grads real money, and train them up, they may lose them to a competitor. Far better to hire someone with the certificates from a cheap country.

    Until such time, only the keenest electronics nerds will do the course. Then go get a well-paid job in software.


    EE Who Switched To SE

    I graduated with a bachelor's and master's in electrical engineering and within less than a year changed positions to software engineering. The problem in my opinion with EE is that there's nothing interesting to do with it. The only EE jobs in the USA are working on power generation/distribution or wireless tech. My opinion is that the generation and distribution is so boring and usually requires more grunt work which I'm not interested in working anymore. So I went the wireless route which to me is allot more interesting. But even there, it's pretty limited since most of the hardware is made overseas or uses firmware. And that's the real issue, all the "interesting" EE things are done overseas where it's cheap to pay someone to design a board or a whole system. Meanwhile the more boring parts of being an EE are left behind here. Sure there's some places that are doing cool and interesting things, but there's a significantly larger amount of places doing interesting software. Plus, all the EE positions I've seen pay well, but software pays a good amount more. Seems like a no brainer

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In 1961 my father bought a transistor radio kit from a newspaper advert - "no soldering - so simple a child can do it". After failing to get it working he gave it to me (13) - with all the 8BA nuts & bolts to connect the wires. When rebuilt it looked like a rats' nest of wires - but it worked. It was also a time when people were scrapping old valve radios and TVs - so a cheap source of components. The radios often covered from 200kHz to 28mHz - so eventually led me to a Class A Amateur Radio licence.

    By serendipity I started work in the computer industry in 1966. Even then it seemed a rare skill in my cohort to be able to understand how a computer worked in both HW and SW. Eventually IT networking also drew on my comms experience too.

    Throughout my career the breadth and depth of my ability to sort problems in the "grey" area seemed rare. Not highly paid compared to the youngsters who quickly wanted an easier path of being in management.

    I wouldn't consider myself an electrical/electronic/software engineer - more of a technology user who can understand how the building blocks work and interact with each other.

  21. Jilara

    Kind of funny how I grew up working on car engines and could fix broken vacuum cleaners, so it was natural to wire-wrap and solder for my boyfriend in college. Despite being a science major, I hung out with his EE friends. Got my first job in the semiconductor industry as a tech writer (I was writing papers for my boyfriend and his friends, as well). But they quickly figured out they could use me for everything from servicing printers to writing and debugging drivers. I could configure and administer a server, or work on the internals of a monitor. But I moved into software because it paid better. However, software is unstable and layoff-prone. I've found that I'm in demand for hardware-related jobs, and have traded more money for more stability (though nothing in tech is entirely stable). I will probably finish my career working on servers and networking. (Semiconductors still don't pay squat.) Every year, there are fewer and fewer of us who understand the hardware base layers.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not about interest

    Although, many oldschool EEs come from teenagers who spent their weekends tinkering with breadboards, I'd argue that the job market for EE's in the U.S. collapsed since even Intel moved all of it's design facilities offshore and Tyco went under. Chinese manufacturers of electronic goods all have their own teams designing electronics. All we do is think of the concept and they come up with the final product.

  23. Scene it all

    A few years ago I decided to build a decorative lamp for the living room. It was made out of scrounged parts from a glass bathroom fixture, and some pieces of scrap wood for the base. Very abstract, with seven glass tubes filled with cut crystal. But the cool part was what was underneath each tube was a circular array of multi-color LEDs that were daisy changed on a serial connection. From each light a 4-conductor cable lead down to some interface chips on a small prototyping PCB. That in turn was connected to ports on a small RISC-V computer. At 6pm it turns on, and for 4 hours runs an apparently random light show of slowly shifting colors, never the same way twice.

    Part of the fun was learning about RISC-V and programming the whole thing, in assembly language. No device drivers, no operating system, no C++. Bare metal programming. But another part of the fun was soldering all those little interface chips, hex drivers, and so on. All the electronic parts came from AdaFruit except for the CPU board, which was a kit from SiFive.

    I suppose it was the first time I used my EE knowledge in many decades. But I would not even have attempted the project without that background.

    In an interview, Limor Fried, the owner and chief designer at AdaFruit, said "If there's one thing I'd like to see from this, it would be for some kids to say to themselves 'I could do that' and start the journey to becoming an engineer and entrepreneur."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A 5 volt Arduino Nano/Uno/Mega-2560 can drive the signal line on a 5 volt WS2812B LED strip without any interfacing chips. Very simple IDE programming via the USB port - then it runs on its own at power up. Several strips can be run in parallel off different ports.

      The same program can be recompiled for a 5 volt ESP32 if you need more speed for more complex changes - but it has less ports.

      My 8' (2.4m) pseudo Xmas tree with a star on top is one spiral chain of six strips - about 30 metres of 900+ LEDs. The main problem has been getting the power feed to each strip junction without persistent rain eventually penetrating the connections.

      It was fun adding more and more dynamic patterns of lighting changes that had random selections of pattern, speed, and colours. It proved relatively easy to map the LEDs' positions on the "tree" cone so that icons could be pictured as ornaments, ribbons, flickering candles - and even a train chugging round.

      The summer task is to strip the connections and try to make them guaranteed waterproof. A leak is hard to fix in the winter when it is all assembled.

      My only disappointment is that the neighbours' kids seem to show no interest in "how does it do that".

      1. Scene it all

        The chained LEDs I ended up using had very strict bit-level timing requirements and an unusual serial protocol. At first I did try using an Arduino but gave up trying to make its UART port do the right thing. I ended up doing bit-banging on a GPIO pin on the RISC-V (which was much faster). The interface chips were there because I had seven separate LED fixtures to chain together, plus the RISC-V could not push enough power to run all the lights.

    2. The_BOOM

      "i would not even have attempted the project without that background"

      "If there's one thing I'd like to see from this, it would be for some kids to say to themselves 'I could do that"

      Notice your contradiction?

      1. Scene it all

        When I was a kid, such things were not available to play with and learn from.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As always

    Business: We are desperately short of people who can do X

    Us: Did you train any?

    Business: Why would we do that? It costs money and they will only be poached by other companies

    And this applies across a whole bunch of technical professions. It's a predictable consequence of capitalism

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: As always

      There are people who can do X and very good ones, but they don't work in the field because the pay is atrocious.

      I wouldn't attribute that to capitalism, but to simple stupidity (favouring short term gains is one of symptoms) and greed.

  25. spoofles

    Greedy corporations and corrupt government

    Engineering in general has been hit hard by wage deflation caused by poorly regulated outsourcing,in-sourcing, near-sourcing and whatever-sourcing.

    Why put the effort and time into obtaining an EE so that you can be forced to compete with foreign labor with possibly fake credentials for nothing wages.

  26. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Engineering in general

    is hard.

    Whether its electrical, electronic or even the lowlife scum of a mech(me)

    First of all is all the knowledge you have to aquire in order to pass the degree exams and then......... its fresh faced into the world of making stuff only to find out half the stuff you learned you'll never need and the other 1/2 has been superceded by a new flashier tech.

    Combined with the grizzled old engineers like moi who eat you alive for breakfast you begin to think "is this the job for me?"

    Then you notice the real kick in the face......... the paypacket ........ and the social status (you're an engineer? I'd much rather lick a slug than talk to you)

    But you soldier on through , gaining the knowledge until its re-union day with your old uni buddies who generally went off to better jobs..... and you find they're earning £60k plus while you're dreaming of breaking £28k for the first time and your employer is complaining he cant find skilled staff to replace the grizzled old engineers like me when we retire(T - 6 yrs 8 months 3 weeks 2 days ,,, not that I'm counting )

    Then, when you've won through to the higher levels of the company and sitting pretty at the level of design engineer, your company gets bought out and offshored resulting in a P45 and learning the ins and outs of unemployment as your are now 40 and too old.

    Such is life

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Engineering in general

      I'm making $95/hr as an engineer. You're figures seem a bit... outdated. Like from about 30 years ago.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been saying this for a few years, and it's evident in quite a few fields.

    In IT for example we have bred a generation of very talented cloud 'engineers' (in quotes not for offense but because I believe engineer should be a protected title like Doctor) who stand up, maintain and develop on the big cloud platforms.

    There are a dwindling number of these who understand the underlying networking equipment, protocols and interactions to the point where I believe in the near future when these systems begin to break and they can't be restored with a right click and new router instance we are going to be in trouble.

    Information security is another big one. We have a load of 'threat hunters' and researchers using tools to work out what threats do, or using tools to reverse engineer something. Who is going to make these tools?

    We have people auditing complex networks and firewalls with no understanding of the platforms,recommending out of date or invalid remediation because they were taught it on a course by someone else who doesn't understand them. I will stop short of accusing these certifying bodies by name of churning out pay to play qualifications that make the holder believe they are an expert but instead they are reviled by the 'old timers' and those who deeply understand.

    Going to be an interesting few years to come!

  28. martinusher Silver badge

    Grandma's radio actually had valves.

    I have been working as an engineer since graduating in 1970. We've been through many different technologies over the last 50 years or so, spanning valves to FPGAs/processors. Although the tools we use have changed a lot over time many of the challenges are similar. The only thing I don't like that much is that modern components are too small to see (I'm not thinking just 'surface mount' but the newer parts that are like grains of pepper) but then manufacturing and soldering techniques have changed to match. The result is that you don't really work with parts, you work with modules, sub-assemblies, with the intellectual effort that might have been spent once upon a time designing valves for mass production now being devoted to designing and manufacturing ICs.

    The problem we've got is that you can't package a lifetime's worth of experience and sell it in convenient blocks as 'education'. Things just don't work like that. Just getting a first degree now requires a significant investment and graduates want to at least earn enough to support that investment even though for the most part they know little to nothing. When I did my first degree we were told that the degree wasn't a vocational qualification, it just gave you enough background to actually be able to learn how to be an engineer. This is entirely true. As a graduate I know both a lot and nothing, at least nothing particularly useful.

    Anyway, what do I care? Those of us in the trade, as it were, could see this brewing up 30-40 years ago but it was easier to just keep kicking that can down the road. Many of us abandoned the UK for other places, the US in my case, but even that's not an option any more (our education system is in as much of a shambles as the UK's, possibly because for some suicidal reason the UK thought it needed to copy us, student loans and all). It will take more than a lot of government talk and failed initiatives to dig ourselves out of this hole .

  29. Mfidelman

    Bring Back Heathkits

    We all grew up on Heathkits. Time for a full scale resurgence.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Bring Back Heathkits

      I started with the Radionic kits at about 8 years old, along with the aformentioned Build A Radio Ladybird book.

      Ooo, I think I've got summut in me eye. ;)

      1. adam 40 Silver badge

        Re: Bring Back Heathkits

        My Granny bought me a Philips EE1050. She was ahead of the curve!! Probably because my grandad was a proper electrical engineer working for the leccy board, but had died by then. (I still have his Avery)

        I tried getting one on fleabay the other day - for old time's sake! And it would be interesting to see if I could actually make it work!!!

  30. Pangasinan Philippines

    Goalposts Move

    I'll bite

    I started my career training, full time, at a certain (cough cough) Govt establishment with day release at local college for C & G.

    We studied pinch effects in FETs, PN junctions, transmission lines etc and made projects like Colpitts oscillators.

    Other projects using DTL and early TTL ICs.

    Not enough paper quals to call myself 'engineer' though.

    Launched into the job and expected to fault-find down to component level.

    Worked on teleprinters, HF radio (Racal RA17), progressed onto comms, then onto radar.

    Tools were Spectrum Analysers, sig gens and scopes, and Time domain reflectometers RF and Fiber.

    Was poached into a job in Saudi Arabia with mobile 5 metre satellite links chasing the king across the desert.

    Installed PCs for users when they were Intel 486, then P60 and P90. Installing banks of PCs with Wordperfect.

    The job later became box shifting and asset management. Any faulty kit returned to manufacturer or 3rd party for repair.

    After much world travel retired and as a laugh put mu RF experience into LinkedIn.

    Plenty of offers for C+ programmers but zero for any RF work.

  31. Adrian 4

    real hardware

    I trained as an EE but moved into mostly embedded software. These days I'm taking more advantage of my background and mixing the two.

    To me, there's still something more interesting about an LED or an actuator doing something, as compared to something happening on a screen. Do others feel the same ? If not, have you ever really compared them, or have you been frustrated by the slow diagnose-fix-retry cycle of hardware compared with software.

    It may be that I'm wrong, and for many, the developing image on a screen is just as real as opening a hydraulic throttle and feeling the torque rise.

    1. Fifth Horseman

      Re: real hardware

      You are definitely not alone here!

      No substitute for the "real feels"....

  32. Kpanic


    Extinction! An ecosystem threatened! Good God! What's can be done? Can't the natural habitat of EEs be restored? Can we start a breeding program to restore their population?

    Oh the humanity!

    1. My-Handle

      Re: Extinction!

      I have training as an Electrical Enginner, I volunteer for the breeding program.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Extinction!

        So do I.

        1. adam 40 Silver badge

          Re: Extinction!

          THis! is why we need more female EE's!!!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Extinction!

            The female EE I work with is actually pretty hot... of course, she's Chinese too. I think you'll find there isn't the big discrepancy between the numbers of each gender in places like Taiwan.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You have to Start Early to Get Those Hardware Engineers

    I started learning electronics at about age 4, in the vacuum tube days, and there was never any doubt in my mind that I would someday have a technical career.

    After 8 years as a Research Tech in a Physical Biochem lab, I spent 42 years in Silicon Valley, mostly as an Analog Mixed Signal Test Engineer. The job involved computer program development, electronic design, electromechanical prototyping, statistical analysis of measurement data, and Production support as needed. All of the better Silicon Valley companies provided tuition reimbursement for relevant work, and my wife and I both used those benefits for degrees. During those decades however, I eventually watched corporate execs give away our hard won technical advantages primarily to Asian companies in the name of short term profit. It's pretty clear to me how Manufacturing Technology began to leave us behind in the US.

    One of the best activities in which I was involved was an annual Bay Area technology problem solving competition for kids from grades 5 through 12. I was one of an army of volunteer coaches for about 15 years, helping teams of kids learn to use the shop tools safely and choose suitable junk parts and Legos in building their devices. It became clear to me that a certain percentage of those kids would go on to be quite successful in technical fields in college and career. For me a big lesson in that competition was that as an experienced engineer, I had to be able to mind my own with the team, until there was a valid reason to speak up.

    So it's my opinion that if you want to have a steady source of upcoming hardware engineers, you need to establish fun, annual, challenging hardware/computer/electronics activities for interested kids.

    And yes, I still enjoy computers and programming, which I started learning with FORTRAN II on an IBM 704 in 1964.

  34. Christian Berger

    Simply put: There aren't many jobs in that area

    For example Germany has jettisoned most of its non-automotive companies in the last few decades. There are no solar companies or communications companies any more. Those that do exit have outsourced most of their technical aspects. Most of what's left is in the automotive industry, but you don't want to go there.

    To be honest my decision to study electrical engineering was mostly influenced by it's use as a hobby.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simply put: There aren't many jobs in that area

      "Most of what's left is in the automotive industry, but you don't want to go there."

      Care to elaborate? But I kind of imagine why you warn us.

  35. gillburt

    We seem to have reached the point where the people whose skills actually create wealth, I.e. those that make and invent stuff, get paid less than those whose jobs exist solely to support the corporate edifices that grew up as a result of the aforementioned workers skills and intellect. I read today that partners at pwc are expecting an average bonus payment of £1m+ each. The world has gone mad when it pays more to audit the success of someone else, than to create the success itself.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A friend was taken on by PwC as part of their intensive training programme to become Chartered Accountants. A very gruelling few years - fail one of the regular qualification exams and you were out.

      What surprised me was that even early on these youngsters were being deployed to do the skilled work for paying customers.

  36. Twitchy Eye

    It has always been like this.

    For the individual training as an E&EE has always been about interest. It's a demanding subject and even when it was free to get a graduate degree it wasn't that popular as a subject. When I graduated there were very few jobs so I ended up in Diesel Generation and then as a support engineer, by which time any pretentious of being a hardware designer had started to melt away (I'd be starting from scratch). 30 years later I am a privacy and security expert.

    If the industry wants more people then it has to do a better job of ensuring graduates are not lost to alternate careers at the early post-graduation stage. What makes me annoyed is having an industry which apparently says there aren't enough engineers when it neither pays well or does a good job of career management.

    Any time I hear anybody say "We have a skills shortage in ___, I just think they don't want to pay the going rate"

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    National Security Issue

    As Western populations get smaller and dumbed down, we are competing against China and other hostile countries. I have news on the U.S. Front, we are losing the STEM race. Several reasons,we are losing the STEM race is the cost of education, STEM is perceived as boring/non-glamorous professions, low pay, bringing in cheap labor from other countries and outsourced work to other countries. The U.S. Government finally had a rude awakening a few years ago when China started to threaten Taiwan and realized that 60% of the ICs come fromTaiwan. Neglecting STEM intensive businesses in the name of cost reduction for decades has become a recognized crisis and it will take the same amount of time to correct.

    1. adam 40 Silver badge

      Re: National Security Issue

      To be fair, China is in the same boat, with Fab's in China owned by Taiwanese companies, so they dare not invade or else....

  38. jweite

    Look, the LED is Blinking!

    With no more Radio Shack stores around, I tried to get my kids interested in hardware by stocking a cabinet with a few dozen components, a solderless breadboard, a power supply and a multimeter. Luxurious by the standards I grew up under. Took them though some Forest Mins projects, like making LEDs blink with 555 timers. Things that were glorious in my day.

    I got a big yawn. The distance between what a beginner can achieve and what their handheld device can do is so huge they couldn't see the relevance.

    TBH, I started my shift to software when custom silicon took over in the field I loved. You could no longer "play" with the big boys without your own fab. Maybe FPGAs opened that door back up, but building in an editor sure lacked the visceral quality of wire wrapping and soldering that felt like real building

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Look, the LED is Blinking!

      In 1986 I built a design that filled a PC bus prototyping card. Still have it - very pretty seeing my first use of wire-wrap in lots of colours. The design was my first use of Xilinx reprogrammable FPGAs - and pushed the limits of the available clocking speeds. As test equipment - a hardware engineer loaned me a simple red/green logic level indicator.

      It worked first time. A development department then borrowed the design to improve one of their products.

      PS I never had any formal training in electronics.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Look, the LED is Blinking!

      "I got a big yawn. The distance between what a beginner can achieve and what their handheld device can do is so huge they couldn't see the relevance."

      Here's some fun that can incorporate both:

      The first time I saw this I was on the floor laughing. It also illustrates that even something as old fashioned as sewing can be a useful skill.

  39. Milo_Dangora

    Everything is propaganda. Most humans will do whatever the richest, loudest voices among them tell them to do, provided that they eventually back up the promise of prestige with competitive capital incentives. For the last 30 years, big tech billionaires have required thousands of software engineers: "We require more vespene gas." When the hardware knowledge crisis comes, big tech will launch a new propaganda drive to allocate new human resources: "We require more minerals." It's that simple. We are units and players. If you're moving units around, you're a player. If you're not playing, you're a unit. Just go with the flow to make money, and if that doesn't float your boat, switch sides. That's all there is to human life. All possible jobs are either clicking, or being clicked. The delusion that there is anything else going on in this game is a serious mental illness that causes most personal stagnation and unhappiness. If enough people succumb to it, there is a critical mass beyond which any society will collapse. We're designed to develop this infinite map forever. Period. No building, no fighting = your team loses. There are always other teams, new obstacles.

    Mission briefing out of the way, every tech college student in America is given two crystal clear choices upon matriculation: pick Computer Science if you want to program; pick Computer Engineering if you want to solder stuff. If you're not a complete incel, you'll be funneled into project management; if you need a calculator to tip a waitress, IT. The probability of new units choosing Computer Science is directly proportional to the number of times players highlight them and click on vespene gas geysers. When, not if, the big players decide to reallocate new units into hardware, they will begin clicking on mineral crystals.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      The problem is, as I mentioned earlier, is the Computer Science courses are what funnel you into IT, not programming, backed up by recruiters for inkwell-fillers and pencil-sharpeners demanding a Computing Science qualifiaction. If you want to "do programming" you shouldn't be doing Computer Science.

  40. Electronics'R'Us

    So many reasons

    There are a lot of reasons we don't see EEs that much (well, you do if you are in the right place).

    When someone who fixes a washing machine using a fault finding handbook calls themselves an 'engineer' it rather colours the perception of young people. I had an amusing altercation when my washing machine broke (in warranty) some years ago.

    Me: Washing machine pops the breaker

    Them: We will arrange for an engineer to visit

    Me: I need it fixed, not redesigned

    Them: <silence>

    That aside, universities don't give enough hands on experience and unless they get a decent mentor they are lost and drift away from the EE side.

    Universities don't give analogue the attention it needs; it is an analogue world and if you want to interface sensors, you will very probably need skills in this arena. Want to do high speed (multi gigabit links)? You will need all manner of analogue skills. Mixed signal (fast digital and sensitive analogue) is challenging and needs in depth analogue skills.

    At the physical layer, every signal is analogue (until you get to Planck quantities anyway) as EMC testing proves on a daily basis.

    I have met many EE graduates who think EE is a matter of getting a RPi or Arduino and flashing LEDs.

    A microcontroller is used more often than is strictly necessary, in my view (ymmv) and I blame the Universities for that.

    A lack of 'getting them young'. The spark starts early and it has to be interesting enough to keep them engaged. Talking about engineering (of any description) only after they are 13 or 14 is way too late.

    There is a lot of electronics design done and built in the UK where I have been a part of it. I can't trust the Chinese suppliers to use the correct grade of PCB material (the glass transition temperature matters a lot in some designs and when it comes to controlled impedance forget it).

    I do electronics hardware and usually write my own software for embedded stuff (often bare metal) - RTOS's are overused and where you need deterministic behaviour they suck.

    In "The Art of Electronics" the authors say that electronic design is "a few laws of physics, a few rules of thumb and a large bag of tricks" (might be paraphrased)..

    Sticking around long enough to learn those tricks and rules of thumb can be daunting when young grads don't have decent mentors or managers to say nothing of an inadequate education.

    Software is often seen as the cool area, but software needs something to actually run on and it usually is not a desktop or laptop in many many cases. To echo someone else on this thread, digital sampling of signals is a science in its own right and is totally different to continuous time (analogue) techniques and it is not simple at all. Why that is not made clear is beyond me (unless the lecturers / professors don't know. of course).

    I do not have a degree; I look at my career as a self directed apprenticeship. It also helped that I went to the USA after leaving the Royal Navy where the attitude (in stark contrast to the UK at the time which could be very elitist) was 'can you do the job'

    Yes, there is a lot to learn, but that is part of the attraction for me; not sure how youngsters see it in a world where instant gratification and 'everyone should get a prize' seems to be the expectation.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: So many reasons

      "A microcontroller is used more often than is strictly necessary, in my view (ymmv) and I blame the Universities for that."

      The Uni's don't teach K.I.S.S. A friend of mine went back to school to take some classes in DSP. On one test the teacher wanted a high pass filter as part of the spec. It was a trick problem. There wasn't enough horse power in the chip to implement that filter at the frequency demanded. My friend's background was in analog so he knew the easiest thing to do was put a capacitor on the front end. Job done, 6dB/oct of high pass in one part and a very simple program to implement the rest of the problem. He was the only one that got it right. Everybody else had come from a digital course track and didn't remember any of the classes in analog filters.

      I am guilty of reaching for a microcontroller too often. Since I'm building stuff that isn't going into mass production, I am not pinching pennies and sometimes I don't have all of the discrete components to hand that I need. They are in a box somewhere in the garage. The Arduino stuff is on a shelf next to my work bench. Yeah, I'm 'ing lazy.

  41. Coofer Cat

    I did Digital Systems Engineering at uni (a few decades ago). A number of observations stick with me to this day though...

    - All the girls that were in the first year disappeared pretty quickly. I think one or two stuck it out to the end, but in an intake of 60+ (maybe 40 odd by the very end), the gender diversity was pretty terrible (same is true in all the jobs I've had since actually)

    - There were a couple of people in the first year who thought they'd just "give it a go". I can't imagine why they thought this was a good idea. Needless to say, they didn't make it past the end of the year

    - Ever mentioning you did "engineering" was bad enough, saying "digital systems engineering" or "electronics" was the absolute quickest way to scare off the girl you'd been successfully chatting up for the past 20 minutes. It became a running joke - not "will he get her number?", "will he get a snog?" or anything like that - "how long will she stay after he tells her he does electronics?", and we'd count up the seconds.

    From all this, I conclude we as a society have a very poor view of engineers, let alone electronics/electrical engineers. Even the civies, aeros and mechies were no better off (and they were on considerably easier courses). Essentially, the harder the course, the less "we" seem to think of the people doing it. Granted, a lot of them could barely string a sentence together to people they weren't already friends with, and the body odour was at times quite powerful, but those people went on to work on some pretty complex stuff which is now in your laptop, smart phone or watch.

    Whatever the problems are, whatever the solutions might be, we have got a very, very long way to go.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      How long will she stay after he tells her he does electronics?

      This overlaps with Ken Cheng's gig last week. At uni I found the Japanese girls were fascinated by my being a hands-on electronics/programming nerd, the British ones thought it a snooze fest.

  42. Lordrobot

    Diversity Rings the Dinner Bell AGAIN

    The issue is NEVER quantity.... the issue is always quality. Though in virtually every profession, the new mantra is to turn everything into a commodity. Doctors and surgeons become interchangeable parts. Just as EEs are all the same. This is the great bromide of equality. Competition is now regarded as mean-spirited. You are just not drinking enough Kachava...

  43. xyz Silver badge


    I had a run in with this bunch last week and personally I cant wait for their extinction. I haven't cone across one yet that isn't a smug, "I'm superior" asshole. Think Boris Johnson with a soldering iron. Then they usually catch "born again" itis and suddenly "HIM" (finger pointed aloft) is their great defender. You may down vote at will. They do my head in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh...

      EE here. I did not come to fight for your honor, but to say yes, there are several like those, and I also hate them. But in most cases I found that the smugness and elitism they display is inversely proportional to their knowledge/abilities.

      I would also like this sub-class to go away, because normally they ascend as "experts", group leaders, project managers, etc and then all is lost.

  44. WaltLind


    It's been a long time coming. I got an MS degree in Computer Science back in the early 70s because the Engineering School wouldn't accept my Mathematics BA as good enough, requiring me to start over in their 5-year undergraduate program. BUT, at UofI this new-fangled thing called Computer Science had just been formalized and it was part of the Math Department so my BA was just fine with them. I took a whole series of Electrical Engineering courses as elective and after graduation IBM hired me as a baby Electrical Engineer where I worked primarily in their chip-making support areas in the old Office Products Division, mostly PROGRAMMING. I was a Software Engineer before there was such a title.

    Fast forward to now. I have a grandson, straight A student in HS, then accepted at UT Engineering School in Texas, making straight As during the pandemic times as a Freshman, doing remote learning, and then leaving the school to enroll in a Medical School program. I reached out to a good friend, an emeritus-positioned Engineering faculty and ex Dean, to contact my grandson and "pump him up" about the program to encourage him to stay in the program. He contacted the current Dean to do that, who said he would, but it never happened. I guess the faculty was too busy? Silence. I really expected that when my grandson didn't return to the program that someone would contact him. I mean he was a straight A student in the Freshman Engineering program that didn't come back. You would think one of his professors, or the school's Dean would make some kind of effort. But, no.

    So now he is in Dublin going to Medical School. Guess what? He's making High Honors. While it is a good thing for him professionally, and he will have a lucrative career, our research and technology world has currently lost a really bright and maybe even potential future luminary. He actually liked math and physics, he did all the work willingly and with enthusiasm, and was/is just a good guy. We need more of him in technology!

  45. Danny 2

    Chip in

    I got a decent apprenticeship at 17 with a US blue chip. We had to do an Electronics & Electrical qualification at a tech college one day a week for four years, and then another year Software Engineering. Like someone previously mentioned if you are competent in various machine code then C is a squoosh. We were one of three major companies on the one campus, with scores of wee supporting companies, so if you need a PCB you'd just walk over to the PCB firm.

    Learned more at work than in college as my colleagues knew far more than the lecturers, but also techs would teach you stuff like soldering a 1cm cube of wire - which seemed pointless but taught you not to over heat and cause a dry joint.

    One career high was designing a high speed board CERN bought but my name wasn't on the patent because I was a teenager.

    Apprentices were rotated around departments. I remember I fixed eight boards in the test department and the tech there knocked me out - I thought he'd be impressed but he said, "You've just passing through, we have to work here and you're making us look bad." So next day I only fixed four.

    I hated the clean room because I had to clean out the tanks of trichlotoethylene, deadly stuff, - without protective gear - plus the female operators were just so course and loved to make me blush. I had fun with the liquid nitrogen but again, no protective gear. I made a snowman that lasted until summer.

    Things started to go downhill with surface mount components, pgas and asics. Fault-finding to component level went out the window, they'd just throw away the board and replace it because it was cheaper. How is that cheaper? "Because we soon won't have to employ you!"

    They made me - my whole division - redundant on the day of my fifth year. I was a bit shocked because I was brilliant, had sailed through the apprenticeship, our R&D division had just made it's first million pound profit so I'd cancelled my mortgage insurance. Do I get the 5 year £500 bonus? No. Can I at least get the company tie-pin? No.

    The big companies started moving out to the far east, their support companies went burst, and for a while I was jumping from sinking ship to life-raft to flotsam.

    Then I went into computing, which still had plenty of jobs, was better paid and was far easier. No offence!

    Some of the senior engineers started up their own companies but they all hit the same problem - they were working class so couldn't get investment here. Many of them moved to the US.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Chip in

      In that situation I'd be going mad saying "why can't I do any software stuff for four years?" and hopefully the employer half would be sane and let me do software development *and* electronic development /at/ /the/ /same/ /time/. Shock Horror!

  46. ecofeco Silver badge

    You get what you pay for

    I my country. EE's, like so many other professions these days, now work on contract/temp basis.

    Job insecurity is a real de-motivator. No mystery to me why there is a shortage.

  47. tobs

    Past EE grad here

    I graduated from electronics engineering in Ireland around a decade ago. Possibly a function of the industry here specifically, but the jobs available to me as a masters graduate paid barely enough to cover rent, and usually had zero benefits (any that did have benefits, they were minimal at best).

    The type of jobs this piece imagines are the ones that every EE hopes for but only a small handful are ever hired for, there just aren't that many positions available.

    It's not all about money, but working what's effectively a dead end job for sweet FA is not an attractive proposition in any industry.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm... perhaps it has something to do with the outsourcing, mass layoffs, loss of manufacturing and historically low pay that plagued the industry for 4 decades (starting in the late 80s). Entire engineering divisions have been pushed out of corporations. Many engineering professionals are forced to work as contractors searching out new projects every few months.

    Electrical engineering is not a walk in the park so why would students choose that direction if corporations aren't interested in employing them full time?

    Graduates and professionals got the message and started choosing other areas (e.g. software) that payed better and provided better job security. If you want to have a healthy selection of skilled workers in this country then you have to have an ecosystem that let's them thrive.

  49. BA_TrainDriver

    Obvious National Security Threat

    Fellow EE train driver here. Electrical engineering is not a cake walk. Many students can't complete the degree. Corporations did this to themselves. They pay engineers pennies, hollow out their engineering departments, outsource the work, and move the engineering abroad. This sends a message loud and clear that they don't want skilled engineers in this country. Engineers design and create the technology companies (and countries) need to survive and at the end of the day they're let go as soon as the company feels they can do without them or can pay someone less in some other country.

    This is happening more and more with software and automation engineers now too.

    1. isos

      Re: Obvious National Security Threat

      The pay of engineers is really a problem. I graduated a materials engineering program in 1999 and immediately went into programming. I'm making 2-3x what my friend who stuck it out as a materials engineer is making.

      1. lullabyman

        Re: Obvious National Security Threat

        same. ME with MetE minor, now doing software. Do a job search for engineers... only "software engineer" results.

  50. systemBuilder22

    Who's surprised?

    What do these clowns expect (NVidia, AMD, Intel, Qualcomm, Apple)? They exported all the factories to Asia which is where a lot of the visual sizzle occurs and now they bemoan that they can only find EEs in Asia? Hey stupid? If you're looking for a scapegoat, try the mirror?

    I used to train electrical engineers as a professor of EE at a top 20 School. I thought I was opening the doors to do opportunities for these kids! That was until I saw one of our elite EE graduates working in a Quickie Mart 2 years after he got his degree! So I quit that job and I quit putting my sweat into a field that throws away it's best and brightest!

    The industry in the USA does a great job of firing its EEs but a terrible job of keeping them employed!

  51. Sdw1988

    I am an electrical engineer and have my degree since 2013. My biggest issues were low pay, under appreciation, companies that wouldn't help with advancing your degree any further, and finding a company that needed an electrical engineer. I did work for one of the biggest copier/Printing companies in the world for 6 years before i was in a car accident and messed my back up.

  52. jlturriff

    Both Electronics AND Electrical Engineers

    Heh. Your article's title says "Electrical engineers...", but the article body talks mostly about Elecronics engineers. I suspect that both are endangered species these days; the Electrical engineers (producers of the electric power grid, building wiring, etc) as well as those who produce the hardware on which our software runs. I suppose that the only hardware "Electronics" engineers that are still thriving are the folks who work at chip foundries.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To any (young at heart) engineer

    I am convinced the engineers should RULE, not accountants or "arts graduates".

    However, if you stay too long in one company, you risk... losing your engineering abilities. You may become a clerk, executive, "program" or "project", know very well the "business process" and follow it... but less of an engineer.

    Do not stay more than 4 or 5 years, move, move, move!

    Considering the life of many companies is also around 5 years, with very few going over 10, it is better for you to be predictive.

    Well... except if you are in France, "employed for life", but there politics matters most...:-)

  54. isos

    This is what happens when every component no longer comes with an electrical diagram and proprietary components. The engineers you're talking about grew up in an era where all those things used off the shelf components and came with diagrams detailing how they work. Now it's all proprietary, and if you replace the serialized battery the whole thing stops working.

  55. DoctorNine

    The Beths

    http s: / / watch?v=-KACt6YhOyY

    How does it feel, to be an expert in a dying field?

    1. adam 40 Silver badge

      Re: The Beths


      Back at you watch 0KEgHhEQK54

  56. Cynicalmark

    Not valuable just an overhead

    In the words of a Director I, as an electronic engineer was a cost and nothing more. The designs I worked on still keep the company running to this day. They haven’t had an original idea since.

    My last company burned me out squeezing every last drop of work before I collapsed. I never went back after my seizures and nerve damage. Was I valued? No

    Let the future fail. Let it all burn down. They care about nothing but the profits and greed. I hope we reach the singularity just so AI can clean house and continue as our better children without these hindrances.

    I am bitter but also practical. If we refuse to change for the benefit of all then there is no future.

  57. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    When the sh!t hits the fan...

    it's great to still be around and see it splatter. When they realise that there is nobody left who knows how it works or how to fix it. When they finally understand that being "positive" and holding endless meetings is NOT going to fix it. It's such a hoot to see, and better still to then walk away and leave them to their misery. Bitter? Me? <LOL>

    I got out of electronic engineering in the late 90's as there was no money in it, and the skills (plus my languages) were transferrable to software support. Support is of a similar "social standing" to engineering, but better paid, and your skills and knowledge are at least partially appreciated.

    1. io91

      Re: When the sh!t hits the fan...

      I worked (in the UK) for an American company. I paid better than UK companies and you could get a senior manager’s salary for remaining an individual contributor solving engineering problems.

  58. adam 40 Silver badge

    Fixing old stuff

    There is a new appreciative market for old refurbished electronics, buy it broken or pull it from the dump, fix it and flog it.

    Just look for old kit (e.g. synthesisers, retro computers) that are selling for £££ on fleabay.

    1. Timc995

      Re: Fixing old stuff

      I pulled everything apart when I was a kid. Most of the time I got it back together, and learned something Ong the way.

      I seriously considered electrical engineering but ended up a math major. I work in banking today, but I have often wondered where I'd be if I had studied EE.

      During my ~40 years working in banking/finance I continued to be interested in how things work and to pull them apart. I'm now the guy who my kids say "can fix anything". That's getting less true now, partly as my skills show their age, but also due to the shift to designed obsolescence and the lack of "right to repair". It's common now to be stonewalled by a device with no available schematics, built with custom chips, and using encrypted firmware. I can't possibly imagine my younger self getting seduced by the intrigue of figuring out and fixing broken things today like I was decades ago. Thankfully there are some smart adventurous folks taking the road less travelled, but there aren't enough. I expect the scarce expertise will ultimately lead to less competition and less innovation.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A famous quote comes to mind...

    How will they ever attract more engineers?

    "Ever since the Phoenicians invented money there has been only one answer to that question." -- Clarence Darrow

  60. PeterEvans

    Not hiring may be the culprit.

    I earned a degree in electrical engineering, Worcester Poly Tech. After 4252 resume submissions I gave up. GPA: 4.55, top 8% of my class. They are simply not hiring.

  61. A_Melbourne

    Software engineers are not engineers at all.

    A person who does not understand the laws of motion, statics. materials and thermodynamics cannot be considered to be an engineer. That is why so many "intelligent" people believe in nonsense like 9/11, germ theory and renewable energy.

  62. KG2V

    Now I say this as a guy who first worked in Mechanical (Machinist) then as an Electronics Tech, and now as a software guy, who has a daughter who is an EE, and a son studying to be a Computer Engineer

    Computer Engineering seems to be a great hybrid. No, it isn't Software Engineering, or Computer Science. Picture going the other way, a hybrid degree of EE and Software Engineering - You learn do design hardware (but little say, RF, but more IC design) AND you go through what is basically a Software Engineering Minor - so you skip some parts

    Might help this project

    (Excuse me while I go code some routines, to run on this embedded hardware, and maybe see you on the Ham radio this weekend - and no, I'm NOT kidding)

  63. OldSurferDude

    Be the change

    When I started with Hewlett-Packard I had a fabulous compensation package: a good salary, profit sharing, stock purchase plan, 80% medical benefits (with 100% for life after 30 years employment) HP was the gold standard of test and measurement tools and then owned the printer market with inkjet printing. Then came along the likes of Mrs. Fiorina. She saw money on the table and took it. My compensation package went to: salary flat for 10 years, no profit sharing, no stock purchase, medical 10% (if that). Support personnel were all fired. Investment into R&D went from 12% to 2%. My retirement medical is $300/yr and I was given a choice on my pension: lump sum or a an annuity for life (that could be canceled at any time) and I lost money on my stock purchase plan.

    Today your HP computer is just like the rest. If your printer last through two ink cartridges, you got lucky.

    What we're seeing now is the seeds that were sown years ago. The quarter-over-quarter bottom line is the only thing that is important (well, second to CEO compensation.)

    There is no quick fix. It's a combination of long term fixes. Like many comments, free education for all. Everyone first learns a trade before moving on: electrician, plumber, carpenter, accountant, etc. This is two fold; first my experience is that the good engineers also could be a trades person, the best, two or three trades. Second: when the technology changes the engineer has a trade on which she can fall back while studying for the next technology.

    But that's just the start. We need to design a circular economy. Design For: manufacturability, repairability, reuseability, recyclability. In short, sustainability.

    Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. The neo-feudal forces in place today are fully aware that an educated population is ungovernable. This trend started long ago and swung into high gear when Ronald Reagan (then governor of California) dismantled the California Educational System (The pre-Reagan UC system resulted in the technology we have seen come to fruition in the last 40 years.) Just for fun, he literally, overnight, put all the institutionalized people who were unable to care for themselves and had no resources, out on the streets.

    Doom and Gloom. If you want something different, be the change.

  64. lullabyman

    i'm an ME who found himselfwith no job. Fat cats sent all mfg to china. We let them.

  65. The_BOOM

    But Why?

    With articles like this, we're going to have a difficult time recruiting young talent. If everything is just a UI, why should anyone learn electronics? The article does a poor job of explaining WHY we need a new generation of hardware people. It comes across like nostalgia, rather than practical need.

    1. Big_Boomer Silver badge

      Re: But Why?

      Does your UI run on thin air? Are you happy trying to run your shiny new UI on ancient hardware that is worn out? No? Then you need hardware engineers as they are the ones that design the new chips, new motherboards, GFX cards, network cards, monitors,....and also the ones that design the production processes to mass produce them so that you can afford them. Does that explain it simply enough for you?

  66. David Pearce

    Asimovs Foundation series

    If you remember, in the Foundation series the "Engineers" had become a cult trying to maintain a technology that they did not understand.

    The West is well down the road in following that as a script.

  67. Colin Critch

    Still hard finding products you want to develop

    I ended up being firmware/embedded which I still enjoy to this day.

    O level electronics -> Working as a wireman -> OND Electronics -> HND Software Systems

    I'm not a hardware engineer whom I am truly in awe of ( when not cursing ). Did anyone else learn a good engineer makes themselves very replaceable? If you did how long did you practice this?

    It is hard to find a product/company that you would like to get behind these days. A lot of the products are a re-spin with some subscription service on top. It is very hard to find the will to march back up the hill again with another wheel re-spinning startup, but I live in hope of finding a product which I can get behind.

    In my spare time I repair electrical (Technician Level) broken items for the community and I have learned a lot tearing down said items. You see the best and the worse product designs and very rarely you think "I would like to own one of these it will last forever", but you do sometimes. I suspect there are very few functioning mini disk players in the UK today.

    I think you have to refresh your skills regularly if you want to stay close to the metal so I for one will not be ruling out Rust for bigger micro-controllers even though I love C.

  68. Splatterplatter

    Youth of today...

    My son was offered an OPITO engineering apprenticeship straight from school, paid good money whilst learning with 2 years at College followed by 2 years paid work offshore on rigs, employment by an oil major was guaranteed if you wanted it. Youngsters clamoured for a place, his was offered to him without application after impressing oil firm execs with his homebuilt ROV (after school ROV club). He turned it down, against my advice, and went off to Uni to study Physics, dropped out after a year as it was too boring and not what he thought it would be.

    Told him to find work pronto, I'm not keeping him in the alleged luxury he deserved...He found work as a trainee Web Dev, very small firm. Did that (and their hardware side & hosting) for 2 years, then got a job as SE, rapid promotions and job offers/poaching followed, 2 years later, he's a senior SE, heads up a team and salary is more than double mine.

    He once told me aged 15, that he would be earning over £100k by the time he was 26, he got there a year early.

  69. RyokuMas

    Only a matter of time...

    How long before programmers are expected to take responsibilitity for this area too and we start seeing job ads for "ElecDevSecOps" engineers?

    1. codejack

      Re: Only a matter of time...

      Already happening.

  70. Glenn Amspaugh

    Old Tech Art

    Heh, my kid (22) just came home with an old Gateway CRT, to mess around with. We're also planning a trip to local salvage shop to try and score an oscilloscope and amplifier parts. Some young folk are stil farting around with old kit.

    But then she's a fine art major.

  71. codejack

    it's their own fault

    I'm a hardware EE, but my degree has been gathering dust in my closet because no one will even talk to me about a job.

    I have been flat-out told that I wasted my time and that software guys can figure the hardware out.

    I'm doing blue collar work and making as much money, I just wish that I hadn't blown 50k on the piece of paper.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like