It seems that no matter where I go, I always hear the same lament: we are lacking human resources!
You may think I am talking about IT, and I could be, but the problem extends far beyond IT. In fact, IT is just one of many institutions whose capacity is conditioned by a lack of qualified people. If I were to question whether the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) research capacity is currently limited by funding or by human resources, I would have to opt for the latter. You may argue that this is simply the result of a particularly favorable political and economic conjuncture, but if you do, you have to agree that this has gone on for far too long and shows no signs that it will change any time soon. You may also say that there is nothing that funding cannot buy. But, please remember that you need about 15 years to train an EC engineer, and, even if you were willing to wait, you would quickly realize that you cannot make kids and teenagers interested in enrolling in these fields of study. Yes, let's face it: scientists are no longer role models for youngsters. We were replaced by football players and pop stars!
Although the problem may not be evenly felt in all disciplines, it is seriously being felt in ECE, across all technologically developed countries, in both academia and industry.
To fight this situation, politicians need to realize that generating qualified human resources to support our technology businesses is not only a question of preventing their relocation to foreign countries but a long-term investment in the nation’s sovereignty. But, scientists and teachers must also accept that they can do much better in addressing youngsters. We have to admit that our students' interests are different from our own – even from the ones we had when we were their age – and while it is true that they no longer exhibit skills in some traditional fields, they certainly have other skills that society as a whole needs to learn to exploit.
José Carlos Pedro