The unfortunate reality is, now is not a great time to be an engineering major or a recent college graduate. Though the U.S. economy is doing well, today’s younger workers don’t have the same economic opportunities their parents did.
A recent survey by the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and Burning Glass Technologies found 40 percent of college graduates take positions that don’t require a degree after leaving school. Moreover, one in five grads does not have a degree-dependent job 10 years after completing university education. Plus, in today’s marketplace, wage growth in skilled fields have stagnated.
These conditions make it difficult for young engineers to pursue a career that offers economic stability. However, there is a way recent and imminent university graduates who majored in engineering can thrive; by harnessing the power of crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing is the Future of Work
When historians write about early 21st century America, crowdsourcing’s effect on U.S. industry will be a major topic. In the past 19 years, crowdsourcing platforms and companies have brought massive disruption to a host of different fields. Services like Uber and Airbnb have found huge success by revolutionizing the transportation and temporary lodging sectors. Similarly, platforms like UpWork and TaskRabbit have provided tens of thousands of skilled and educated laborers with freelance work.
As a result of those innovations, freelancing has expanded to encompass a significant portion of the U.S. labor market. Financial services company Intuit estimates that 34 percent of the American workforce holds down gig economy jobs. Moreover, the organization predicts that number will rise to 43 percent by next year.
Notably, crowdsourcing labor isn’t a practice utilized solely by startups. An Oxford Internet Institute study revealed that Fortune 500 corporations increased their use of crowdsourcing by 26 percent between 2016 and 2017.
The prevalence of crowdsourced labor is a natural outcome for a society that has become hyper-connected. Since billions of people have gained access to the internet and telepresence tools that allow for a wider range of work to be completed remotely, the notion of organizations maintaining static workforces has become outmoded.
In truth, technology isn’t going to wipe out the skilled labor market, it’s going to change the way it functions.
Furthermore, crowdsourcing has the capacity to greatly empower engineers.
How Crowdsourcing Benefits Engineers
The main reason crowdsourcing is a boon for engineers is that it allows for a greater degree of innovation. Much to the annoyance of major corporations, truly innovative concepts and solutions can’t be produced on a predictable 9 to 5 schedule. The rigid timelines, top-down organizational structures, and a lack of actionable strategy can make life miserable for corporate engineers.
Engineering crowdsourcing platform klooee confirmed that last fact by surveying its users. It found that most of its engineering firm employees had a job satisfaction rate of between 50 and 60 percent. Corporate engineers are unhappy because leadership ignores their ideas and makes them adhere to strategies that lack articulation.
Crowdsourcing takes these burdens off engineers by requiring firms to outline their needs and objectives clearly before bringing on workers. Moreover, as freelancers aren’t bound by hourly schedules and corporate cultures, they have space and time to conceive of truly innovative ideas.
Also, teams with diverse backgrounds, skills, and experiences can innovate better than staffers conditioned to operate within a rigid system. Multinational services company Deloitte released a white paper supporting this idea. It noted how the U.S. Department of Defense and Allstate used crowd engineering to make their design and prototyping phases faster and their services more cost-effective.
As crowdsourcing engineering platforms have emerged, they’ve paired talented engineers with companies in need of innovative solutions. For instance, Ennomotive connected a defense company called Indra Systems with engineers who reduced its manufacturing times from months to days.
The Best Way Forward
For both companies and workers, crowd engineering is simply the best way forward. Corporations benefit from the services of engineers who have the flexibility and skills to not just execute but to also innovate. Similarly, crowdsourcing jobs give engineers the quality of life and clarity of purpose necessary to conceive and implement game-changing ideas.
Today’s world doesn’t offer much in the way of certainty to skilled workers. But engineering graduates and engineering majors on the cusp of graduation can depend on one thing. Their best bet for a satisfying and financially secure future isn’t a staff job at a multinational corporation.
It’s trusting in their ability to think differently and work hard.
Mario McKellop is a Staff Writer for The Burn-In. In addition to his love for all things tech, he loves a good meme, a trending story with plenty of irony, and all things energy drink related. Mario has written for Bank of America, CBS, Chase Financial, and Time Warner Communications (to name a few). You can find his tech stories at www.theburnin.com.