Sunday, August 29, 2010

Engineers

TechCrunch:
An interesting paradox in the technology world is that there is both a shortage and a surplus of engineers in the United States. Talk to those working at any Silicon Valley company, and they will tell you how hard it is to find qualified talent. But listen to the heart-wrenching stories of unemployed engineers, and you will realize that there are tens of thousands who can’t get jobs. What gives?

The harsh reality is that in the tech world, companies prefer to hire young, inexperienced, engineers.

FLG has consistently been skeptical of the common argument that the United States needs to focus on science and math education to compete in the global economy. He believes that it should be part of a liberal education, but trying to churn out engineers for the sake of the economy is not a good idea.

Some liberal commentators, people like Robert Reich and Tom Friedman, are always saying we need to do this, usually because they just talked to some tech industry leader. Of course they want more engineers. Of course they want the government or somebody else to pay for their education. Of course they don't want to pay for it or very much in salaries.

If India and China are churning out a disproportionate number engineers (I'd like to add even if some are very sharp many are far less skilled) and turning middling engineering skill into a commodity, then we do we want to do want to compete in that market? What the heads of large companies want is not always in the larger interest, maybe not even the merely economic interest, of our nation.

And as a matter of fact, FLG doesn't think that technical skill or education is the key ingredient in the success of Silicon Valley. Many, many countries have tried to replicate it by investing in universities to create little Berekelys and Stanfords, but the key ingredient is not that. It's the finance. It's angel investors and VC firms. It's the ability to IPO and get liquidity back. It's not simply technical skill, but the ability to put financial and technical resources together so that people can make money creating things.

HT: Instapundit

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