Readers letters

Readers lettersThe latest views on ewhotline@rbi.co.uk The key to the executive toilet…
We all know that electronics engineers are underpaid and undervalued, but all the letters I’ve read so far in this debate are just so wide of the mark! The answer lies in comparison with the highly paid professions (something that engineering isn’t). Simply compare barristers, judges, accountants and actuaries to the electronics engineer and the reasons for our plight shine out like distress flares in a dark toilet. The solutions shine just as brightly. The basic reasons behind the problem are as follows:
1.) Historically we are undervalued. Engineers have always had greasy overalls and a big spanner in their hands e.g. Blacksmiths, Victorian plumbers, etc. They were servants to the rich. When electronics came along we were simply the same guys doing a similar job and so got paid the same.
2.) Engineers do it for the love of it. We love the job don’t we? It’s so much fun getting those things to work, the mental challenge is just pure bliss as we sink our teeth into another juicy problem. Who cares about money, the job’s its own reward!
3.) Most engineers are cynical it’s the nature of the beast. I was in a company once where an engineer put up his degree and IEE membership certificates. The other engineers laughed at him so much he took them down.
4.) Technicians. Sorry technicians, in my world you don’t get a look in. How many accountants do you know who say, ‘Oh Jenkins can add up, let’s make him a senior partner?’ None. Technicians dilute the perceived need for good engineers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that technicians are too dim to be engineers, some are, some aren’t. I’m saying that we need to have the same ‘club’ that the other highly paid professions have. So what is to be done? We are hampered by history, the current makeup and size of the workforce and the attitude of the players. IF we want to get paid the money we deserve and IF we want the recognition we deserve, then we must make it a club! To do this we must:
1.) Set standards. (Degrees, experience)
2.) Limit the numbers (Done by upping the standards as required)
2.) Defend those standards (Stop the rest doing our jobs, Strike!)
3.) Generate the attitude (Get a liking for suits, plush offices and golf, lose that cynicism and generate some elitism)
4.) Surround ourselves with secretaries (Personal one this, but seriously, compare our lot with any solicitor what do their technicians look like? What accountant doesn’t have his own secretary?) The IEE must now set the standards, the people who want the money and the recognition must get qualified to join it, the IEE must sue anyone trying to say they are engineers when by the new definition they are not, engineers must change their attitudes and become elite and form cliques. Otherwise chaps, just carry on as you are in the vain belief you’ll get lots more money for no apparent reason. Do any of us believe that one day our boss will come up to us wringing his hands and apologise to us for being undervalued and insist that we have our own office, twice our salary and the key to the executive washroom! Jim Harris Falling numbers means pay rise What worries me about the discussions on engineering status is the frequent linking of concerns over status and pay with those over falling numbers of engineering students. Surely, if we really want more pay and status we should rejoice in the falling numbers in engineering and wait for market economics to take effect? Besides which, nobody who pronounces on “the need for more engineers” ever bothers to justify the assertion. With the enormous decline in most areas of engineering in this country, there is no shortage of engineers per se – just a shortage of single 25-year olds with 2-3 years experience in the same job, prepared to work for a pittance a long way from home (in rented accommodation they can’t afford to buy), and with no cpd or training until they can be replaced a few years later by others with new skills then required. Very few companies seem interested in training and none will pay more than they need to buy the skills they require. If engineers can’t get a legal trade monopoly (like doctors and lawyers) or a closed shop (like the old print unions) we can only rely on limited supply to boost pay and status. Or is there another way?
Anthony New BSc CEng MIEE
Fishponds, Bristol Degrees of having a degree One complaint raised by two of your correspondents was of non-graduates using the name ‘engineer’. Whilst I too complain about underskilled TV repairmen using this title, it is also true that three of the finest electronics circuit designers I have ever worked with had no degrees (although I believe one of them did have a diploma in art). Yes, we do need a way of recognising professional engineers, but there are plenty of good engineers without degrees, and probably many more bad engineers with them. Peer group reviews during a persons career are, I believe, they only way of knowing if they are Professional, and if they are an Engineer.
Andy Millar B.Eng. (Hons)
senior design engineer
Adtranz Signal Graduates stuck in the net What about all those graduates that get stuck in the net? I am referring to the fact that many graduates who study electronics, not students! (a definition of a psychology student), but students who choose subjects in a particular field of electronics because it interests them and who work very, very hard studying only to get a 3rd class degree. Then they hope that someone will take them on after graduation in their specialist field. But they find that all the industry wants is the 2.1 and 1st class students leaving many in my situation feeling disheartened doing a job that does not interest them or involved with administration which bears no relationship to signal processing or circuit simulation, and all that calculus wasted . Please, please can someone (Labour Government) help these types of graduates. B. Lyndon A title is a term of reference Having read the letters sent to you this week I feel I must add my little bit. The term engineer is seen like in the same light a s the term manager. You can have an engineer or THE engineer, or a manager or THE manager. The title engineer is purely a term of reference in relation to where you are in your company or community and should not be seen as a derogatory title. If you feel that being an engineer is something that must be recognised in the same light as the professional lawyer, doctor, architect etc. then register with your professional institution such as the IEE or CIBSE. This will then be judged, and possibly give you the designatory letters afforded to be equal in status to other professionals (who must also be registered). We do not need a new title as JP Reeve BSc Ceng MIEE mentions, as he clearly stated his status after his name!
Mark Keiller Beng (Hons) AMIEE. If you agree or disagree with any of the opinions expressed above why not get in touch
ewhotline@rbi.co.uk


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