Hey, Electronics Assembly, Where Are All the Young People?
After growing up in Northern California (San Francisco and the East Bay) with the sounds of R&B/Motown and the Beatles, I came across pop and rock music of all sorts: ELO, Elton John, Van Halen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Cream and of course, David Bowie. The title of the Bowie’s song (above) got me thinking.
Is it just me, or are there fewer and fewer people under 30 entering our industry than ever before? It’s said that “one’s professional contacts age with them”…that is certainly true. So maybe I just don’t happen to interact with the newer part of the workforce who has entered N. American electronics manufacturing recently.
The peak of employment for manufacturing workers, engineers, program managers, buyers and inspectors certainly has passed as the higher volume electronics assembly operations moved offshore to Southeast Asia, China and Mexico. But what about the coolness factor? How about innovation?
What are we doing collectively to make this segment of manufacturing attractive again? It’s seems our niche may have lost our collective moxy, swagger or “edginess” (as an industry friend in Dallas told me recently). The edginess that was clearly present in the 1990’s.
We can train all the SMT technicians, quality control people, soldering techs, buyers and process engineers we want. Even if we have competitive pay, career paths, good working conditions, some will leave us. What is our secret sauce going to be for the next decade to attract some enthusiastic entrants?
Do you know how we get some of that edge back? Do you know of an OEM or EMS company who seems to have “the edge”, the confidence and the company performance to match? Who is breaking the mold and challenging old assumptions? I’d like to know, wouldn’t you?
Let’s shine some light on them (people or companies) and study their success.
by Mark Edwards
Sales Manager-Director-VP | Electronic Materials | Business Development | PCB Assembly