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Engineering and Technology Careers are Not Valued - Singapore is "High Cost Low Tech"

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  #41 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2008, 08:01 PM
Al C---
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Default 1827

Few years down the road:

Haha thanks for your advice. Although it is true that the uni does pay better (much better) however, the figures alone can be misleading.

1. Its is VERY hard to get employed by local U if you are not from an elite uni or if you are not a famous researcher. Elite = Stanford, MIT, Beijing U....
2. The figures generated is based on the top academics in the uni. And not everybody gets to become full prof.

As for poly, seriously they don't value PhD as much as masters with extensive work experience. And also poly don't pay that well for fresh phd (4k starting).

So yeah well .....chances for PhD in Singapore are really limited. So who would really want to do PhD to innovate products in Singapore?

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  #42 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2008, 10:25 PM
Shuen Pei---
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Default 1828

Dawning sector in tech/engineering that draws attention nowadays - SOLAR and Renewable Energy. Exciting area for Sgp and the world.

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  #43 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2008, 11:09 PM
Dawning---
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Default 1829

Dawning, but will they last?
Solar and renewables are like life sciences a couple years back, EE engineering during the semicon boom years, and civil engineering some moons ago.
They never lasted.
Finance is still the safest and surest bet if you ask me. When you attain financial freedom earlier than your engineer peers, you can then afford to renew your science and solar your energy.

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  #44 (permalink)  
Old 02-06-2008, 11:20 PM
Shuen Pei---
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Default 1831

Dear Dawning,
Finance is the fundamental of modern economy. It forms the basis of all disciplines, and therefore, it's everlasting. Technology, on the contrary are bubles.

Ages ago, chemistry was the in thing (remember frankenstein drinking bubling green chemical cartoons), when everyone thought chemistry was cool - Ka-BOOM!!

Then, there was civil engineering. Architect was a big deal, Pua Chu Kang was an admirable figurine profession. Same time, semiconductor boomed, where silicon valley (even women thought they can use some silicon.. emm) was bustling that it burst in late 90s' along with all the IT that supports it, and asia financial crisis followed. Financial crisis was trailed by almost the same time as property price clashed.

So dear, nothing lasts. Finance may seem glamorous, now that it has been on the joy ride last 3.5yrs. But, you are right, one thing for sure though, financial sector makes milionaires in the shortest time. That, technology (even IT) can't come near.

In other words, you can achieve financial freedom soonest if you were in finance (during the boom time that is). Don't tell me hedge against the bad time and derivatives (how many retail investors know what are call and put?). Technology, on the other hand gives you the steady ride and cushions crashes and financial turmoils better.

So, here's my word of wisdom (i think). If one is confident of timing the market, join finance/banking, toil your souls nite and day for 3-5 years, hopefully attained the infamous 'financial freedom' and get out! If one doesn't have a clue what's animals like bulls and bears gotta do with financial market, mold your heads in a square box, join engineering.

phew..
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old 03-06-2008, 05:09 AM
ex-engineer---
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Default 1833

As a society's economy progresses, the main contributor it's GDP evolves from agriculture to manufacturing and on to services. This is evident in most modern developed economies i.e London and the US, just look at their makeup of GDP over the years. China is in her manufacturing phase now. Singapore never really had an agricultural phase but had a strong manufacturing phase. However, it's time for the economy to expand in services for it to advance. Engineers sadly belong to the manufacturing era.. just like farmers used to belong to the agricultural phase.. that's why the service industry is paying so much better than the manufacturing sector. This is why it's hard for engineers to be paid more than service ppl i.e bankers or sales ppl, just as it's harder for a salaried farmer to be paid more than an engineer.
Evolve with time or be obsolete..
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  #46 (permalink)  
Old 03-06-2008, 07:14 AM
Howcome---
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Default 1835

If one doesn't have a clue what's animals like bulls and bears gotta do with financial market, mold your heads in a square box, join engineering.
OR
Learn about bears and bulls. Calls and puts and spreads and delta and greeks are NOT that hard...
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  #47 (permalink)  
Old 03-06-2008, 10:33 AM
Al C---
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Default 1837

Hi Ex-engineer:

In a sense you are right, that services will come after manufacturing. The pay packet that is associated with each country is really dependent on which SPECIALIZED FIELD is valued by that country. For e.g,:

1. in England, footballers in the top two leagues are better paid than the average banker, lawyer, doctor because everyone values football there highly. The pay of the academics there suck like hell (compared to academics in Singapore).

2. In Israel, defence engineers are definitely more well paid then bankers (is there a huge Israelite investment bank??) because the country is always at war and they need the most innovative ideas. So in this country, manufacturing and innovation counts.

3. In Australia, tradesmen can be more well paid than professionals because the market is big and will continue to be for a long long time.

4. In other countries which are major suppliers of commodities/energy to the world, do not be surprised if the farmer is richer than the banker.


Sadly, this won't be the case in Singapore because we are not front runners in technology (cos we are slow) and hence no one in the world will come to us for a specific technological need. And so we can only provide services.

The key to all this is SPECIALTY and the demand.
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  #48 (permalink)  
Old 03-06-2008, 10:42 AM
Al C---
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Default 1838

One extra point to my previous post to ex-engineer: The problem with services is that it is NOT a skill and anyone can provide it.

The future danger is that with further education, cheaper labour from other countries such as Vietnam, China can replace us in the services industry. They are replacing us now in areas of construction, cleaning and F&B services. Soon they will replace us in Finance, Accounting and Management. We can still be competitive in areas such as Law and Medicine these fields can be country and area specific). Engineering is one field we can depend on in the long run cos it can be specialized. That said, it is not the elementary engineering which can make big money, but engo consulting and project management that can make big money. Just NOT in Singapore.
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  #49 (permalink)  
Old 03-06-2008, 10:48 AM
Al C---
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Default 1839

Apologies for my verbosity,
The only engineering field that seems to pay off nowadays in Financial Engineering .

Somehow that pays very well. Quants are slowly displacing the conventional trader and sales person in banks....so yeah in the end skill labour is still the way to go.
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  #50 (permalink)  
Old 04-06-2008, 11:19 PM
Shuen Pei---
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Default 1844

Yes, manufacturers need backend service to market and service clients, which forms a SG&A for the company, pull out a report, a 20% of revenue is normal.

Financial services is different, what they have is good people to sell their services, smooth talker to market their financial products - they can afford a big pay check for their COGS is mainly just their payroll, no direct material like the case of manufacturer.

Agreed that Singapore has built a sturdy manufacturing base economy. Singapore needs the mix of manufacturing and financial services to feed its people from all walks of life. See.. manufacuring is needed to create the fundamental economic base and minimal spending power. This gives rise to group of retail investors who thinks they are a little savvy in investing their wealth (after they read up on bulls, bear, calls, puts and spreads). So, they created the demand for financial services, they created the need for institutional investors - and who created these? they are millions and millions of retail investors like you and me.

Now, here the catch, everyone of retail investor put $1000, hoping to reap $1200 a year later. And, the financial guy that made this happened has to make $1500 out of it (because he has to pay himself). Well, a lot of truths in this scenarios. Every retail investors make $200 and financial services guy make $300, years after years. Em... so where the extra $500 come from? Uncle Sam keep printing monies? Face it, after a lengthy vicious cycle, $500 made over the $1000 invested, comes from another $1000 of another retail investor who just jump in, and this other retail investor make his other $500 from the 3rd retail investor, it goes on and on... until one sunny day the bubble bursts. All 3 retail investors lost the $500 they made + the principles (because you still have to feed the highly paid financial guy).

One day, when investors decided to bail out - the whole chain will be affected, those time the market wrongly (those only invested and yet to reap the profit) hit worst. Even if then, we need financial services, we can't afford to pay them.

Story is - there's always the scary economic cycle. Whether or not to jump into financial services, i think it all depends on timing. THose that can't time it right, like me, I call it a gamble.
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