Those living in developed nations may not have encountered this issue on the scale that developing nations have to deal with it. For some reason, a large majority of a country’s tech student population chooses to go for software rather than hardware.
Why does this phenomenon exist only in developing nations though? Don’t developed nations have some kind of deficit of good electric engineers or engineers in general? Or are software jobs simply taking over the industry and creating AI that takes engineers out of the equation? Well, both yes and no, but we’re here to see why this happens in developing nations particularly.
After my 24 years of living in a developing nation, I think I’ve figured out why exactly do students go for software rather than hardware. And I’d like to share with you my experience.
Better end product
The younger generation, myself included, does not perceive a “normal job” as normal. Now, what does this have to do with tech? Well, when you’re a teenager growing up surrounded by engineers from the Soviet Union who are now struggling to find decent jobs with decent pay, it tends to mess with your understanding of what’s going on in the country.
It is true that most developing nations that used to be a part of the Soviet Union are now teeming with engineers either working in unrelated fields earning a minimum wage, or not working at all. That’s the example I had in my country as well. 40 or 50+ year-old people who were supposed to be at the height of their wealth seemed to be at a level that a modern 18-year-old is in terms of income.
The surplus of engineers forced companies to hire only the best of the best, and those who were slightly above average, or even just average were left behind with nothing to call a job. In a developed nation, where there are hundreds of companies constantly looking for engineers, this would definitely not happen.
After seeing this onslaught of finding jobs in their fields, a lot of youngsters, myself included decided that an engineering education would not be in my financial interest. But software was on a completely different level.
The popularity of software development in post-Soviet Nations started to materialize itself somewhere around the early 2000s.
From my experience, it looked like all of the people that would go for a CS degree locally or abroad, would then come back and become these IT guys people used to tease for being too smart.
However, those people that went for software are now around 10 times more comfortable with their lives than those who went for hardware. Why? Because of the blessing that is a remote job.
I don’t need to be telling you that working in a developing country with a developed nation’s salary is pretty much a guaranteed entrance in the 1%, and might I tell you, almost every software developer in my developing country is indeed in that 1%, and there aren’t even that many of them.
Seeing so many software developers succeed compared to engineers really tampers with a young student’s decision on what they might want to do later in life with their tech degree.
Harder startup market
The next reason is the startup market that is absolutely brutal to those who try and produce some kind of hardware in developing nations.
Although many believe that developing nations are the gold mine for manufacturers, it’s not necessarily the case. They are indeed gold mines for manufacturers that produce millions of units of a specific product, but those who are just starting out and have a maximum output of 100 is simply impossible.
Let me tell you why. It’s not about the funding or anything like that. Getting funding is pretty easy as long as your idea is at least a little bit innovative. The hurdle is when you try to export your product to more prosperous markets.
In my developing country’s case, the best market to export to was always Western Europe. It was close, the logistics weren’t that hard to handle and there was quite a large market under relatively similar importing laws.
But here’s the issue. If a similar product costs around $100 to produce in a developed nation but costs $50 to produce in developing nations, the end situation is the same.
Spending $50 on production is just the beginning. Then you need to factor in the transportation fees, taxes, tariffs, markups, and various other distribution fees in order to at least get your feet wet in a foreign market.
After factoring in so many variables we are left with an exact same product that has been produced in different countries. A product created in a developing nation would sell for about $100 in the new market, while a locally produced one would sell for about $110.
The end consumer is very focused on quality rather than price and seeing the mark that it’s been produced locally as opposed to abroad in a developing nation, will immediately convince them to go for the extra $10 priced one instead.
Therefore, producing some kind of revolutionary hardware that will need to be exported elsewhere is quite an issue for engineers in developing nations while producing software is much easier to export and sell.
Overall, it comes down to the wallet again, much like anything in the world we live in today.
Still much more to learn
These are all the implications I’ve seen in my particular developing country and the reason I changed my mind to go for an engineering degree in the past.
Do you think I made a mistake? Or was it a perfect alternative to learn some Java instead of which circuit goes where?