This year, we expanded our annual reader survey to include readers of our European edition, Electronic Design Europe. We did this to get a more global perspective on the issues that affect engineers—and to discover similarities and differences among engineering professionals in different parts of the world. More than 600 engineers across Europe participated in this survey. And while engineers on both sides of the pond appear to have more in common than not, some interesting disparities emerged from our research.
First, the similarities: The average engineer in the U.S. and in Europe puts in about the same amount of time on the job each week, has the same amount of industry experience, shares similar feelings about the potential for salary advancement, and has similar views on engineering as a career choice. They face many of the same pressing problems, such as component shortages and demanding deadlines, at work. And the engineering employment outlook at their company is pretty much the same.
On the other hand, by a factor of two to one, engineers in the U.S. worry more about issues such as the general health of the economy, job security, reductions in staff, the financial health of their company, age discrimination, and losing their job to outsourcing.
Interestingly enough, although more European firms (62%) outsource engineering work than U.S. firms (54%), European engineers feel less threatened by the practice. Only 38% say they believe that outsourcing makes fewer engineering jobs available (versus 57% of U.S. engineers). Similarly, only 27% think it allows companies to hire engineers at lower salaries (compared to 41% of U.S. engineers).
In fact, there are significant differences across the board in how European and U.S. engineers view the effect of outsourcing on salaries, opportunities for advancement, and employee morale. As a result, a significantly larger proportion of European engineers (21% versus 15%) believes that outsourcing is an important aspect of global business growth. European engineers also believe that, by moving menial tasks out of the organization, outsourcing gives them the opportunity to work on more innovative projects.
Our survey results further indicate that, while engineers in the U.S. may feel slightly more satisfied with their current positions, European engineers are more likely to say that they find their current projects sufficiently challenging. A higher percentage of European engineers also say that their company is more focused on employee retention than they were a year ago. And, European engineers are more likely to say that their organization is having difficulty finding the right candidates to fill open positions.