What are the main challenges in professional growth that computer engineers face?
A limited number of publicly available sources cover this subject. As such, my colleague and I broadened our focus to different types of computer engineers (e.g. software and hardware), job growth and foreign competition to get as much of a detailed view as possible on the professional growth challenges that computer engineers face.
CHALLENGES THAT WOMEN FACE IN TECHNOLOGY
Nonprofit IT-oLogy cites a study by National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), which found that women working in IT positions perceived more gender inequality than employed women across all industries. For women, competition within the IT workforce is fierce because "networking opportunities and promotions go to men in tech careers at a higher rate than to women." This is the case because men still outnumber women in the IT industry.
Many female employees also report feeling a lack of support, be it from colleagues, or at home by family members who hold on to cultural biases regarding women in the workforce. New mothers often fear losing their job or promotion and decide to cut short their paid maternity leave to return to work.
CHALLENGES FOR HARDWARE ENGINEERS
This source from LinkedIn dates back to 2014. However, I've included it in this report because there is a lack of publicly available information, and it goes into detail about the main professional growth challenges that hardware engineers face. For instance, the author puts keeping skills and knowledge up to date as the number one challenge.
He goes on to say that an engineer's skill set needs to be constantly refined and that engineers must have a deep understanding of key technologies across numerous areas. This is corroborated in an article by Houston Chronicle, which mentions under the "Computer [Engineering] Pros and Cons" section: "A computer engineer needs to stay abreast of emerging computer languages constantly advance and change. Computer professionals increasingly need to work in organizational or departmental teams, which makes interpersonal and social skills necessary. This requirement may challenge those that prefer a lab-based jobs."
Another challenge is the lack of internal resources to "meet the demands of shrinking design cycles and aggressive time to market windows." The author noted that there is a lack of opportunities for career advancement. He states that these are challenges faced by engineers across the board, so I presumed that this would be relevant to computer engineers.
Study.com cites the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting a greater than average employment growth of 17% for computer software engineers, but a slower than usual employment growth of 3% for computer hardware engineers from 2014 through 2024. However, the BLS more recently estimated the computer hardware engineer job to grow as fast as average -- at 5% -- from 2016 through 2026. Also worth noting, per the website, "A limited number of engineers will be needed to meet the demand for new computer hardware because more technological innovation takes place with software than with hardware."
Migration of labor is another factor that affects computer engineers' career advancement in the US. In particular, some jobs that were formerly under-represented in the US electrical/computer engineering labor market have been shifted to China and India. Try Engineering's article cites the BLS as stating: "Although the use of information technology continues to expand rapidly, the manufacture of computer hardware is expected to be adversely affected by intense foreign competition." Therefore, foreign competitors are expected to hinder computer engineers' career progression due to the fewer number of jobs that are expected to be available in the US.
In summary, due to the limited information about this topic, we were not able to find much information about perceived weaknesses that were trending, but we looked into computer hardware engineers' and computer software engineers' job outlooks, foreign competitors, and also found information relating to challenges that women face in the workforce, for a broadened overview of challenges affecting computer engineers' professional growth.