Monday, 9 June 2008
I recently came across a surprising item in the Times Digest, a compilation of news articles put together by the editors of The New York Times, with the headline "High-Tech Japan is Running Out of Engineers."
It appears that in Japan, there is a significant decline in individuals pursuing engineering degrees. They call it the "flight from science." The decline is so significant that various sectors have launched efforts to encourage more students to pursue engineering degrees by making engineering look sexy. Moreover, many companies are importing more foreign workers or outsourcing engineering positions. Does any of this sound familiar?
Japan's engineering expertise lifted that nation from its post-war defeat to the economic power that it is today. Unfortunately, like many Americans, college students are choosing fields like finance and medicine that provide more compensation. They are also pursuing careers in art and other creative outlets.
It appears that this decline actually started about two decades ago, but has accelerated rapidly in recent years. One estimate puts the shortfall in their digital industry at almost a half-million engineers. Couple this problem with Japan's low birth rate and a quick solution is not at hand. Perhaps they too could benefit from some of the recent messaging campaigns developed by the National Academy of Engineers and other engineering organizations.