Thursday, November 19, 2009

Science and Engineering

Science and Engineering have long suffered from the problem of being unfashionable and fairly difficult. They require some serious brain power rather than the ability to make a poster, take part in a non judgemental group workshop or just talk rubbish all day. Fewer and fewer bright students are taking these real subjects, so each year we drop further and further behind other countries. (Although we do have lots of Politics and Psychology graduates. Maybe they could design some offshore wind farms, space elevators or efficient solar panels for us?)

The Institute of Engineering and Technology are holding a series of competitions to try and get pupils to consider careers in Science and Engineering. Good luck to them as I don't think the Government are particularly interested. Have a look here


Anonymous said...

Good luck indeed. Most of the science grads I know went into finance or management consulting.

Consider the career of a bright science grad. Work hard till 35 years old then given the choice - join management or get out. Far wiser to join the managers at 25.

Consider the employment today's science grad creates. The design work may be done in the UK but the fabrication is done overseas. As for the profits - offshored by a bright science grad turned accountant. UK jobs created - nil. As for research creating jobs, nature does not give up her secrets easily, you need a big economy to sustain the sort of research others cannot copy in an instant.

As for the initial choice - just take a look at the pay offered in the job ads - £130K+ for a tosspot in Change Management and £45K for a scientist. The choice is obvious - be a tosspot.

Finally, consider the parents who influence their children. Back in the 1950s most parents believed in the 'white heat of technology' , today's parents believe in a job that pays moolah and does not disappear at 35.


MarkUK said...

Can't but agree with rogerh. Until a few years ago, I worked in an analytical lab of a well-known food company. The bench analysts were mostly contractors, on about £15-17½k. These were degree chemists, and one or two had a PhD.

Starting pay for a police constable (no qualifications above GCSE required) is about £20k.

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

A certain defence electronics company that shall remain nameless (taken over by a French company a few years ago) pays its Principal Engineers the same salary as its Trainee Accountants.

amigaser said...




Anonymous said...

I used to work as a process engineer for a major chocolate company you've heard of. HR asked me if I could mentor a lad from a local school. He was picking his A levels and wanted to study engineering, and his enterprising parents had suggested he speak to a real engineer. "Sure, I'll stop him." I said. "What?" said HR lady. "I'll stop him from ruining his life by picking engineering." I further elaborated that I had studied a difficult subject for five years, suffered a year of unemployment, an insecure contract job, redundancy and more dole, before securing a job with one of best established and loved brand name companies in Britain - and they paid me, a senior chemical engineer, about the same as they paid the guys who operated the cocoa mills. I further made clear that any child considering engineering would, from me, get the advice that they should study management accountancy.

There is no shortage of scientists. There is no shortage of engineers. If there were, I'd be driving a Porsche.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the others here. I wanted to do a Biology degree at university. After talking to someone I found out that the only easy job placement I could get with it were as a lab assistant testing someone's urine/faeces in a hospital at around 15-17k. (This was the early 90's and even then that wasn't much for so many years study.)

My brother is a lecturer in a serious science at a red brick university. When he calls a plumber and the plumber charges more for half an hour's work then he gets in an hour.


Weekend Yachtsman said...

RogerH has it right.

Though I think that £45k salary for a scientist would only be for the most senior and experienced people.

Generally it's only managers that get that kind of money. As Roger also says.

Market rules, I'm afraid, and the market is telling us there is not a shortage.

That could be, of course, because we've exported all our manufacturing to China and the like, but that doesn't change the facts on the ground here.

AK said...

I concur with what's been said above. In my experience a proven team leader might be on £45k (if that), experienced technical staff top out at about £25k and are expected to have demonstrated management skills to be able to demand even that.