Wednesday, June 28, 2006

how did we all become engineers?

From my experiences in Singapore, Korea and reading about the ever-determined focus of developing asian economies to produce engineers that contribute to economic growth, I think we're gradually losing touch with emotional development on an inter-personal level.

China currently produces 600,000 engineering graduates per year, India - 460,000 per year while Europe and the United States produce only 100,000 and 70,000 respectively. Numbers like these could mean a lot of different things. After all, China and India have a large overall population and although the percentage of engineering grads to overall population is still alarmingly large, that can be attributed to the need to support the influx of foreign invesment in engineering and manufacturing-related industries.

However, there are severe side-effects that can occur from skewing our social priorities towards first improving our economic interests. Oversupply of engineering graduates breeds unhealthy competition between potential hires that causes an abundant amount of emotional stress, both to new graduates with no experience and to middle-aged engineers in danger of being displaced by younger hires. From the company's perspective, the oversupply or undersupply of potential candidates dramatically skews the perceived value of these new hires. During a period of oversupply, new hires and company employees are simply chess pieces that can be easily replaced, while during a period undersupply potential candidates are desperate stop-gap measures that you have to take regardless of the candidate's value or virtue. Furthermore, societal pressures that attempts to conform young minds into doctors, lawyers and engineers
diminishes our ability to encourage the interest and development in other less recognized but equally important fields.

In an ideal world we would only have the kids who have the keen engineering intuition coupled with a strong interest in the field, to pursue careers in engineering. Not every half-smart kid in class pushed towards engineering because they can do the work and not because they want to.
With more motivation and less competition, managers would feel more inclined to guide subordinates and value current employees. Employees would feel less pressure for career advancement as they would feel more satisfied in accomplishing their work tasks. I've read about workers here who have declined promotion opportunities because of current job sastisfaction (with little desire for management tasks) and lifestyle opportunities (more time with family) which they enjoy in their current job situations.

In my mind there is nothing more devastating in life than doing things because it was the thing to do then, rather than thinking about what you really want to do. The result of personal disatisfaction with our lives breeds a situation where we give less thought towards doing the right thing and more towards self-serving thoughts that appear to feed the depressing void within us.


At 7:38 PM, Blogger Jo said...


At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Larry Loe said...

Damn, how wise, how wise.. You're my sage.


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