No Room for Rookies

Most of what I know as an engineer, I did not learn from a book.

Yes, I went to college, and studied the math and physics and stuff, and that’s a necessary starting point.  But when I started working as an engineer, I was initially given the simplest tasks.  Then relatively simple projects.  And as time went along, I learned my craft from more experienced staffers, and moved on to bigger and better things.

Now I have broader responsibilities on my projects.  In another time, I would have expected to have two or three junior engineers as part of the team.  They could do simpler tasks under my direction, and learn, and move on to bigger and better things themselves.  As far as I can tell, that’s the way things have been in my craft since the beginning.

But business doesn’t work that way anymore.  Carrying rookies and training them on the job is an extraneous cost that can be squeezed.  The work that used to be done by drafters and junior engineers is reflected back upward.  And in the short term, it makes sense: very often, it is quicker for me to simply do something than to explain it to a subordinate, wait for him to do it, and then inspect the results (and possibly have him do parts of it over) before sending it onward.

But in the long term, where does the next generation of engineers come from?

4 thoughts on “No Room for Rookies”

  1. My guess is that the employers, like about all the other businesses, will just continue to think short-term only and get by thru just piling more work on the experienced engineers and occaisonally hiring an already experienced engineer who will gladly work for peanuts instead of being broke and unemployed.

    In other words, good ole capitalistic exploitation…

  2. Technical staff have been getting squeezed from two directions for at least 30 years: “flattening of the org chart”, which means no underlings to train or do the donkey work and loss of administrative personnel.

    It’s interesting that the federal government is considering “phased retirement” for its retirement-eligible staff. If you got the pension that you were promised, without an earnings test for either Social Security or the FERS supplement, which replaces Social Security between ages 56 and 62, you could make about 90% of what you made working full-time working only half-time. After you earn about $14K, you have either of those payents taxed away, unless you are over 70 in the case of Social Security. It’s an even better deal for people who are under the old retirement system, because they have no earnings test for their pension, so someone who retires with 30 years of service could make 106.5% of their salary working half time.

  3. How many of these dumb kids “refuse” to start at the bottom?

    They are expecting a great deal more than an entry level salary and an entry level job. Right away they want to be the boss.

    Then again, there are green kids who graduated from college…and are still hoping for a full time job, It’s 2 years or more after college graduation and still nothin’.

  4. I have seen this mentality where a kid graduates from college and wants an upper management job. Then when they do get an entry level job they complain. Meanwhile that company hires them over an older person who would appreciate any salary.

    Where does the next generation of engineers come from? overseas of course because in this society we do not value smart people.

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