With the demand for engineers is expected to remain in the double digits, the search for talent has become a strategic priority for many global companies across industries. Can traditional four-year engineering programs meet the demand and keep up with the changing skills required to compete? Some companies think mentorships and apprenticeships may be solutions to creating a learning culture.
The industry may also look to other technical specialties such as coding and how some innovators are solving the shortage of good coders, while others technology companies are creating a “culture of learning.”
According to industry organization IEEE, engineering dominates career website Glassdoor’s “List of the 50 Best U.S. Jobs.” Demand for engineering specialists, including telecom engineers, is expected to remain high as wireless connectivity expands across devices and the demand for data speed accelerates.
Of the top 50 jobs, electrical engineer ranks number 14 on the list, software engineer, 16, hardware engineer, 30 and information security engineer, 39. User-experience designers, quality-assurance managers, mobile developers and intelligence analysts are in demand, too.
FieldEngineer.com is all too aware of the demand: We’re fulfilling critical needs by connecting specialists, ranging from network engineers to project managers, to corporations around the world, at breakneck speed. The industry’s success, of course, is also invariably linked to how fast colleges and universities, as well as corporations, can train engineers. Once trained and armed with a four-year degree specializing in engineering or the math and sciences, how do engineers keep their skills relevant?
We’ve seen some interesting trends in how major corporations and thought leaders are implementing training to keep up with the skills needed for 21st century telecommunication advancements, including the much anticipated shift from the 4G (4th generation) mobile technology system to the significantly faster 5G system expected in 2020.
While engineers usually require four years of study at a U.S. college or university, acquiring the skills necessary to become a coder has become more streamlined to meet industry demands. Sebastian Thrun, research professor at Stanford University, former Google Fellow and founder of Udacity, created an affordable online educational platform to train coding and programming skills. Major technology corporations such as AT&T, Facebook and Salesforce have been hiring their graduates and were helpful in creating program curriculums to meet their needs.
The Nanodegree program, for instance, consists of two three-month terms, and students must complete the full six months to earn their credentials to graduate. The cost for each term is a fraction of typical tuition charged by colleges and universities. Each term costs $800 for this particular program.
Corporations such as Google are placing a greater emphasis on training their workers and developing a culture of learning to keep up with the changes in technology. The company has taken its elite “machine learning” (artificial intelligence) program and has expanded it to the ranks, according to Wired magazine. Workers spend six months embedded with the machine learning team and work alongside a mentor. This on-the-job learning and creating a “learning” culture supplements even the most advanced degrees held by their engineers.
At Fortune Magazine’s recent Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, technology industry executives, including Koru CEO Kristen Hamilton, MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz, JetBlue Technology Ventures president Bonny Simi, and former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, discussed how companies are dealing with the skill gaps.
“We’ve tried to take it into the boardroom,” MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan said in a Fortune Magazine interview. “When you look at the board makeup, the percentage of people with markedly different, transformational thinking is very small.” If you’re facing digital transformation and skills retraining, consider making additions to your board, he said.
Approaching the skill and talent shortage on the job is just one solution. Kassan subscribes to former Microsoft COO Michael Turner’s approach – “performing while transforming.”
Field Engineer is an online marketplace that connects companies with telecommunications work with the global engineers who have the skills and availability to complete them. With more than 15,000 skilled engineers in 137 countries, Field Engineer has already helped 45 customers get jobs done. For more information, please visit www.fieldengineer.com or download the app on App Store or Google Play.