When was the last time your company hired someone straight out of school, or even under 40? Until recently, I would have guessed 1985. But there’s something happening, and I hope it’s the beginning of a trend. Young people are once again entering the PCB design community workforce, and the overall PCB manufacturing industry as well.
It’s not a flood of youngsters—yet. They’re not joining us by the thousands, but certainly in the hundreds. You even see young designers and EEs at trade shows now, chatting with us silverbacks. And it’s refreshing to talk to these “kids,” as I term anyone under 40. They have an entirely fresh worldview, one that we don’t hear about when we’re talking with other middle-aged folks who have been in electronics design and manufacturing for decades. They’re excited, not jaded and killing time until retirement.
Further, the young people of the industry discuss apps, altered reality, and drones, not the “good old days” of 1990, or 1970. (I know some of you started in this industry way before that!) They even chuckle at our war stories. They’ve never driven a rental car around Toronto while wrestling with a fold-out map on the way to that next appointment. They’ve also never used FedEx Overnight to send a file to a co-worker.
These young people look at us the way I looked at my grandfather when he told me about seeing his first automobile and checking if there were tiny horses under the hood. They’re curious, and they know that we have some knowledge to pass down. They know they’re in demand, which gives them the freedom to say what’s on their mind. I enjoy hearing young people say, “You’re older than my dad!” Good. That means they will be around to steer their company and this industry into the future after we all retire or slip the mortal coil.
Right now, we’re still not seeing young people coming into PCB design in numbers that are even close to replacing the graybeards who are leaving over the next decade. There are still too many positions sitting open, from design through assembly. Think about it from the viewpoint of smart, young, would-be technologists. Why should they consider working in this field? Even more importantly, why should they be interested in working in your company?
For this issue, I spoke with a variety of young people working in this industry. The fact that I was able to find eight people with no gray hair speaks volumes—it would have been tough to publish an issue like this 10 years ago.
To read this entire column, which appeared in the March 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.