Job Security and Economics
Just as everywhere else, national and global economic problems cast a long shadow over many process control respondents, and affecting their work dynamics and company behaviors. Nearly 43% of those surveyed say their employers hiring processes have been affected by the economy, while 19.4% say their raises and promotions have been affected. However, despite these stresses, more of our respondents also seem to be optimistic. In 2007, 56.6% of those surveyed said they were unconcerned about job security. In 2008, 58.1% reported feeling the same way.
Several observers report that skyrocketing oil prices and related inflation, new and revived international and domestic process application projects, and an aging workforce are all contributing to increasing demand, competition and compensation for control engineers. Steadily increasing use of process control technologies in pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and hybrid applications also is fueling the need for engineers. Still, the most widely acknowledged factor is the accelerating retirement of older engineers, who arent being replaced fast enough because too few students pursue process control and engineering careers.
Because of this scarcity and lower labor costs, it might be assumed that outsourcing would be on the increase. However, while more players report using outsourcing, each adds that theyre using it less. For example, just over 69% of 2008s respondents report outsourcing professional/engineering services, while more than 67% reported outsourcing in 2007 (Figure 5).
Despite this much-professed need for engineers, hiring and overtime decreased slightly and layoffs increased over the past year. Respondents reporting that their firms are hiring slipped to 47.2% in 2008 from 48.8% in 2007, while those offering overtime dropped to 27.1% in 2008 from 30.5% in 2007. Meanwhile, layoffs jumped to 18.5% in 2008 from 16.6% in 2007.
However, one especially positive note is that companies offering promotions and raises continued to increase to 19.4% in 2008 from 15.2% in 2007 from 11.8% in 2006.
More than 160 respondents to the 2008 Salary Survey offered perceptive comments besides their multiple-choice answers, which may give their fellow engineers and managers some useful insight into issues and, perhaps, the relative health of their various organizations. Some of the most interesting included: