Wherever you find plentiful engineers and free-market economies, living
standards thrive. That has been the case through most of this century, and
conditions seem right for more of the same.
Not only are controlled economies giving way to free markets, but the supply of engineers is growing. A new report from the American Association of Engineering Societies shows that the world is producing just over a million new bachelor-level graduates each year in engineering and closely-related professions, such as computer scientists. Moreover, some of the fastest growth comes from the emerging economies of Asia, such as India and China, as well as Latin America. Among other findings of this study:
The biggest producers of engineers are, in rank order, Russia, China, Japan, the U.S., and the Ukraine.
While the number of engineering graduates is still rising in Europe, new bachelor-level engineering degrees have been dropping in the U. S. since 1986. Currently, the U.S. is graduating about 119,000 new engineers and related professionals each year--about 12% of the world's total supply.
How will the bigger worldwide supply of technical talent affect U.S. engineers? With the global economy, international companies from Western nations, such as the U.S. and Germany, can now substitute cheaper engineering talent in developing countries for higher-priced engineers at home.
But on the other hand, history has shown that free-market countries with increas- ing populations of engineers demand more and more technology-based products. And that will mean more work for U.S. engineers who design the computers, semiconductors, communications equipment, and countless other products needed by engineers in emerging economies.
A healthier world economy--and a leveling off of corporate downsizing--have already improved the job outlook. Since the first quarter of 1995, nearly 200,000 new engineering jobs were created in the U.S. The unemployment rate among engineers has fallen to around 2.5%, compared to more than 4% in 1993. With increasing worldwide demand for technology, career prospects should continue to brighten.