Silicon Careers: Where Are the Jobs?

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Beth Stackpole
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Manufacturing resurgence
Beth Stackpole   10/13/2011 10:38:02 AM
What a great resource not just for up and coming engineers, but for veteran professionals looking for their next career challenge.

I totally agree with the point about US companies not just having a responsibility to US customers and shareholders, but also to US engineers and workers. Becoming a global company is certainly a great accomplishment and obviously paves the way for lots of opportunity, but as Junko well notes, it shouldn't be a get-out-jail-free card for doing what's right to support American manufacturing and the American dream.

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What makes you think these mfg jobs will stay in the USA?
jadbp   10/14/2011 12:43:20 PM
I am heartened to know that there are at least 60 great start-ups in the semiconductor marketplace.  But, what makes you think that these start-ups will grow to manufacturing jobs in the USA? 

For decades now, significant portions of semiconductor manufacturing has been done outside the USA.  For example, most test and packaging have long ago left the USA and are not likely to return. 

These start-ups will not be manufacturing their own silicon—that is unimaginable.  They will use silicon foundries or partner with a larger semi manufacturer—which will likely make the devices outside of the USA.  EIGHT of the top 10 Silicon foundries are located in Taiwan, China, South Korea and Israel.

So you see, while these promising start-ups will grow engineering and management jobs in the USA, it is highly unlikely that they will grow any manufacturing jobs here.  And, given the extreme cost of building semiconductor foundries ($billions), this is not likely to change soon.

William K.
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Where are the silicon designers jobs?
William K.   10/14/2011 5:28:19 PM
Silicon designers create the "system on a chip", which is a one-application very expensive component that is also very expensive to change. The only place that they are economical is in large production runs, HUGE production runs, in fact. Every other option is more flexible and cheaper, and probably faster to market as well. So you are asking why the demand for people who have this skill set, and probably no other skill sets, is weak? The economy is both down and uncertain and the need for these expensive folks has declined since nobody has figured out how to be certain that some new product will sell a million units befor needing to be revised. The goal of making products obsolete every six months has backfired, it would appear.

IT looks to me like that would be the best explanation of why the demand has fallen.

José Sacerio
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What about education?
José Sacerio   10/15/2011 3:10:31 PM
Great article, but...

One other factor has contributed to the decline in the economy: education. Those high tech jobs which are available at the 60 start-ups all require skills which are no longer taught except in advanced university curricula.

Every time we cut the budget, teachers are some of the first to go. And when the President talks about jobs he mentions areas like consturction, infrasturctre, etc. 

I think we will see a decrease in the unemployment numbers which will satisfy the political goals of the few; has anyone asked what kinds of jobs are we creating?

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Re: What about education?
ferd   10/16/2011 12:15:23 PM
Bingo, Jose!  You've touched one of the major problems that our "leaders" overlook. 

Another problem is practicality - with declining engineering jobs in the U.S., and shortened careers for people who do get engineering jobs, engineering careers have become impractical.  Few engineers can expect 40 years of income as an engineer, let alone any follow-up retirement monies.  Potential new engineering students aren't dumb - they see this trend - and instead of wasting their time and money on engineering degrees they are looking elsewhere.

Meanwhile our government and business "leaders" wring their hands and continue to push policies that have already proven fruitless.  Government focuses on low paying blue collar jobs and ignores the fact that technology built the U.S. in the first place.  Businessmen scrape off any profits they can steal off the backs of their employees, while crying that those profits are declining - despite realizing that unemployed people cannot afford to buy their poor quality out-sourced products. 

The only saving grace is that our economy has gotten bad enough that profits on imported products are becoming too slim to sustain that business model.  Between higher transportation costs and lower sales due to public disgust, businesses may be forced to turn their attentions upon home.

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