Hiring collusions impacting engineers salaries? NO! Really???

Its all over the media.  There is a huge “skills-mismatch” in the US.  In spite of high unemployment, millions of jobs in the so-called “STEM”  (science, technology, engineering and math)  fields are going begging because employers can not get enough “qualified” Americans to fill those positions.

But this so-called shortage has not squared well with the reality that salaries in many, if not most STEM fields have been flat (or declining in real terms)  for almost 15 years.  A true shortage would result in a plethora of jobs with very sweet sign-on packages, steady pay increases and a healthy competitive market for scientists and engineers.  Since this has not happened, the 800 lb. gorilla in the room is why?

Hiring Collusion in Silicon Valley???

Either someone is lying or the market is being manipulated.  Hey!  Perhaps one might suggest a diabolical combination of both!  A recent class-action lawsuit by 64,000  Silicon Valley programmers .  looking for billions in damages leads me in the direction of the diabolical.  To read the entire complaint – click here. Apparently Silicon Valley, led by none other than the late SteveJobs, decided to collude in anti-competitive  (no-poaching) agreements when it came to engineering talent.   The result was a major  loss of bargaining power for salaries and terms by engineers and programmers throughout the region.

The complaint extends to a wide swath of of Silicon Valley “name brands” including  the likes of Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Adobe and Pixar.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot…Lets make sure the creative juices of those who actually make our products are completely squelched.

Those who don’t weep for engineers should rethink the issue…

Engineers are generally thought to be well-heeled and well compensated for their work and education.  However, looking more closely under the hood, the situation is somewhat different.

The fact is that engineering, like many other STEM fields is under tremendous salary pressures from outsourcing, insourcing, and non-poaching issues like the one’s described above.  The influx of the H1-B’s,  has morphed this form of employment into something resembling a high-tech indenture.  The hours are grueling with productivity up but salaries lagging.  If you are an engineer and over the age of 50 – chances are you no longer employed.  The educational pipeline is long, while the shelf-life of that education is astoundingly short.

STEM Feasibility…

This brings us full circle back to a topic that I often bring up. How feasible is a STEM career in real monetary terms for Americans?  Young people are being literally shoved towards these career tracks with the promise that the long education and hard work will yield employment stability with nice meat and potato salaries.

But the reality doesn’t match the hype.  All too often, an MBA, a law degree or a career in finance is far more appealing in terms of financial security.

Until that metric changes, our innovative and inventive edge will continue to deteriorate.  This type of behavior kills the golden goose.  The death knell of American exceptionalism is in good part due to the greed of the industries and academic institutions that were responsible for creating it.

© 2014 – RGHicks – http://ReinnovatingAmerica.com – All rights reserved.

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