There was a time in Pakistan when people heard you were an engineer, any type of engineer, you were literally revered by them. Mothers would fall over each other to grab an engineer for their daughters, and if a girl did it, she was considered nothing short of Einstein. Then when I was undergoing the engineering program; the era of IT prosperity; people would ask what you were studying. When you replied engineering, they sulked a bit and asked which field. Upon hearing the word mechanical, they looked down at you like you were their mechanic. Yep. People in their infinite stupidity don’t know their mechanic from the mechanical. It all seems the same to them.
Times have changed again for the better as far as mechanical engineers are concerned. Job advertisements for mechanical engineers are splattered all over the classifieds and word is spreading fast that the mechanical field has been resurrected. People are claiming that the “Second Coming” is holier and more glorified than the first. I doubt it, especially because this field never got to be crucified. Sure it received a dent when the IT boon was happening, but the industries didn’t stop working, did they? And to run the industry you require these engineers.
This job boon has got more to do with the economic growth rather than the receding IT ventures. It’s really very simple: when the economy is booming, that means more money is pumping through the economy, people are buying goods, demand is higher than the supply, production has to be increased to counter that, and viola! Work force gets increased which includes the engineers as well.
Unfortunately, this hasn’t really translated into prosperity for the engineers. Sure, they are employed by the dozen, but what are they being offered? Literally peanuts.
A mechanical engineer has the toughest job of all the professions. It is not only physically debilitating, but mentally taxing as well. You would think with this sort pressure, the person should be properly compensated for his work. No sir. Nothing of this sort in our industry. Most of the factories have working conditions which are despicable. I‘ve already pointed that out in the case of Textiler. God knows how many places have such working environments, or maybe even worse. And these are supposed to be good times for the mechanical engineer. Imagine what the bad times would be like. But I’ve a strong suspicion that these conditions are only applicable to Pakistan. I can’t imagine other nations maltreating their mechanical assets to such an extent.
When everyone was singing Information Technology’s praises, the IT specialists were being pampered all over the world, more so in Pakistan. They were demanding and getting exorbitant salaries, even the fresh graduates. No one came forward and objected to this trend, or even termed it crazy. Hell, even these days they are getting away with ‘murder’. I met a FAST (NU University)
graduate at a friend’s wedding who had recently graduated. He was getting Rs.22, 000 monthly from a local software house plus a car (Suzuki Mehran
). But when it comes to a fresh M. engineer, even the people in the industry consider it crazy to demand or get respectable pay when starting out. Consider the case of Bilal Ahmed Siddiqui. One of the brilliant students of our batch, of not the brilliant student, I’m sure he would make for a great engineer. A couple of people narrated this incident to me that when Bilal applied for a job at Hino-Pak Pvt Ltd
, he wrote the expected salary Rs.60, 000 monthly. The people there were incredulous as to how could a fresh one demand so much. But since he was the star of the batch, the darling of all the teachers, the Hinopak had to check him out. May be he made a mistake or something. So he was called for an interview. The operations manager who was conducting the interview asked him if he had made a mistake. To which he replied in the negative. He then told him he was the manager and he was getting Rs. 42,000, so how could they give that much money to him, who had no experience? All he said was that if they couldn’t pay him that much, why on earth did they call him? Arrogant, huh? That’s what most people have been calling him since learning about this incidence, including the people who narrated this to me. They say he thinks he’s above everybody. But their envy is nothing new, but more like a historical affair. He has been accused of going where no civilian has gone before. And they are right. Bilal did his internship at the Heavy Mechanical Complex Taxila
which is a heavily guarded military installation. Almost everything is manufactured there. A truly unique place. So once you gain experience from such a place, you are obviously going to be far ahead of the competition. No one else got the chance, and Bilal also was able to get in only because his father is a retired brigadier. People grudge him for even that. Then he was able to design as well as fabricate some sort of micro gas turbine, an expensive undertaking, because he was able to afford it. So that’s one more strike against him. Others fret that they are not able to pull off these wonderful feats and get the accolades from the teachers and all, because they don’t have the resources, otherwise they are as good as him, if not better. What these people don’t realize is that he has been involved in this stuff from the day he set foot in the university. He isn’t just interested in engineering, he’s passionate about it. And once you get in that frame of mind, doors of opportunities start opening for you left and right. Then it doesn’t matter if you have the resources or not, things just start to fall in your lap. But to achieve that state, you’ve got to go the extra mile, do things that others leave out merely due to inconvenience, for as the saying goes:
“When you want what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.”
Coming back to the question, was he justified in asking for that kind of pay? Why not? If he’s able enough, why shouldn’t he get it? He’s not forcing anyone. He’s merely asking, though what he’s asking may be a tad too much. And don’t get me wrong. While I may endorse his demand for such a salary, I do not necessarily have the same expectations for myself, though I’d love to get something in that region. The point is, if you are good enough, you have every right to negotiate the terms of your employment. Right now, we mechanical engineers are in shambles when it comes to pay. We don’t have any union which can set a limit to the minimum wage. And there’s no real unity among us; if one of us rejects an employer for paying scrap, another one would grab it greedily. The employer doesn’t even have to think about increasing the wage since someone is always ready to take the job.
There are examples of mechanical engineers earning respectable income. For instance, take the case of Arslan’s manager at Adam Motors Pvt Ltd.
He was drawing about Rs. 42,000 monthly from there when he was suddenly offered a job at Ali Motors for about Rs. 58,000 plus a KIA Pride while here he was given a mere Daihatsu Cuore. Immediately he applied for a leave at Adam’s and switched to Ali’s. The leave part is the trend in the industry. You just don’t resign from your job, but apply for a leave for 2-3 months. In that way, if you don’t like the new job, you always have the option of falling back on the former one. Everybody, including the M.Ds know when an employee applies for leave that he’s leaving them for good, but they don’t do anything for there isn’t much to do really, is there?
Coming back to the guy, he did have about 7-8 years experience in the industry, and he was just a graduate from NED. But these success stories are few and far between, and I would bet a person in some other profession would be earning a lot more after this period.