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How Has the Worldwide Recession Affected Engineering?

The global economic recession that reared its ugly head towards the end of 2007 and which has yet to be vanquished has racked the nerves of professionals in all industries, and the engineering industry is no exception. Engineers today are quite concerned about their personal prospects and the overall state of the field, and what people really want to know is exactly how this current recession has affected engineering in general. Equipped with such information, engineers have a greater chance of making the kinds of decisions and changes that will enable them to get ahead; hence, here we would like to perform a succinct overview of precisely this topic. Hopefully the information provided below will help steer engineers out there towards the path of success…


Let’s be clear about one thing before elaborating on the matter: there is a lot of controversy regarding the effect of the worldwide recession on engineering, and the fact that the different branches of engineering have fared differently one from another complicates the matter even further. Nonetheless, there are general trends that are practically beyond denial. For example: engineering work that is heavily tied to manufacturing and exportation has probably suffered the most. At the same time, the engineering industry in general hasn’t been hit nearly as hard as other industries, and in fact several kinds of engineering jobs are considered to be among the most “recession-proof” jobs out there (though that idea ought to be taken with a grain of salt).


What the recession has undoubtedly done is accelerate the outsourcing model that has swept through the engineering industry as it has in so many other industries. Salary competition between engineers in the developed world versus those in the developing world is a huge factor, and the matter is compounded by the huge engineering talent generation currently taking place in India, China, and a few other notable places. Engineers that are willing to move abroad will have a greater chance of remaining employed than those that aren’t as a result.


Yet, again, it’s not all doom and gloom within engineering. One positive development to come out of these times of global recession would appear to be increased resource efficiency, a turn of events that is only logical in light of the increasingly thrifty mindset of engineers and professionals of all stripes in today’s world. This trend towards efficiency is further stimulated by the increasing awareness throughout society of pollution, global warming, the perils of continued dependency on fossil fuels, and various environmental concerns. Engineering work aimed at developing alternative fuel sources is experiencing a significant boom despite the general recession, and in this context the branch of chemical engineering in particular has fared well in comparison to other branches of engineering.


In sum, it is a rather nuanced panorama and what is true of the engineering industry in one country may not be true in another. What is clear is that engineering will serve as a motor for the economy to emerge from this recession, and key fields of engineering-such as biotech, alternative energy, and pretty much everything related to the hi-tech-are performing well now and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

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