1. New engineers, and it's certainly valid. The net pros and cons of your abilities are equivalent to those coming straight out of college. You must set yourself apart from the competition by putting more time into your work or increasing the quality of your talent.
2. Experienced engineers who work for companies that devalue personal growth, and that is valid too. Our most challenging daily work will usually come from employers -- If that work isn't mentally stimulating, you're not learning anything, and nothing is being meaningfully done to separate you from those college level entries.
3. Experienced engineers who work in fields with a lower barrier to entry, and it seems valid to me. If your company's projects are more resilient to the mistakes novices will make, or there are less mistakes to make because it's easier to understand, it's difficult to increase the quality of your talent in a competitive way.
4. Experienced engineers who knowingly have poor talent quality, and it's valid. It's challenging for some people to critically think, to navigate the abstract nature of engineering, and to learn those deeper concepts that typically separate experts from novices -- And that is surely difficult to overcome.
5. Experienced engineers who believe they have poor talent quality but are indeed quite talented in meaningful ways, and it's invalid. It's imposter syndrome and it's absolutely rampant in our industry.
6. Experienced engineers with good talent quality but poor interpersonal skills, and its validity depends on your interpersonal growth. If you're not great at negotiating or you intensely value validation, you're certainly at risk to being taken advantage of, and not necessarily with malice on the company's part.
There is definitely a shortage of engineers with high talent quality in fields that require it. Many people believe weekly hours are the only competitive aspect of our industry and it simply isn't true in many cases.
While we will almost indefinitely feel pressure to stay busy, talented engineers have far more leverage to push back than they realize. Great engineers are hard to come by and many companies will work hard not to lose them.