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Happy?

Analysis

The British way of working appears to result in widespread job dissatisfaction.

Bath University's survey of 138 professions and vocations showed that only in 26 cases did more than 50% of the workers express themselves 'positively satisfied' with their jobs (see News). Long hours, aggressive management and an uncertain job market all add up to a workforce who find it hard to see employment in a positive light.

Yes, civil engineers come towards the bottom of the job satisfaction league, but taking into account the margin of error in any such survey, there is little real evidence that they are significantly more depressed than most other UK workers.

The grass always appears greener on the other side of the fence, and sometimes it is. But few civil engineers would want to cope with the working hours of junior doctors, the ever-shifting and growing demands on teachers or even the problems quantity surveyors have in convincing people at parties that they do an interesting job.

It is not as if civil engineers have nothing to feel positive about. After three years of decline the likelihood is that the 'traditional' civil engineering market may pick up. The realisation that construction as a whole is heading for a period of low growth rather than recession appears to have given new life to the jobs market (see News).

But career advancement - unless it is comes with a £50,000 salary apparently - is not enough on its own to inspire job satisfaction. It seems that, astonishingly in our supposedly selfish society, those who think their jobs directly benefit their fellow man or woman get the biggest kick out of their careers.

Put this together with the increasing number of engineers volunteering to undertake overseas aid work and one conclusion suggests itself.

It is not just the general public who fail to value the contribution of civil engineering. It seems civil engineers aren't too sure themselves.

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