Where Are All the Engineers?
America is facing an engineering shortage.
According to data from Burning Glass Technologies, more than 13 STEM jobs were posted online for each one unemployed STEM worker in 2016. That equates to approximately 3 million more jobs than the number of trained professionals available to fill them.
A report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute echos that figure in its “2018 Skills Gap Study,” showing that 2.4 million engineering jobs will likely go unfilled over the next decade.
The icing on top: Engineering ranked No. 3 in the Manpower Group’s “Top 10 Most in Demand Skills in the World.”
So, the question remains: Where are all the engineers?
The American engineering industry has often utilized talented, foreign-born workers. Many of these workers are recruited using H-1B visas. These visas, which are available under the Immigration and Nationality Act, allow U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. They’re good for three years and can be renewed for three additional years.
The Trump administration has attempted to limit the scope of this program through its “Buy America, Hire American” policy. In February of last year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency issued a policy memo that requires “detailed statements of work or work orders” about the work that will be performed by an H-1B visa worker. Essentially, employers now have to explain in detail why they need foreign talent.
Historically, H-1B visas were capped at 85,000 per year. In 2014, that number jumped to 124,000 and rose every year until reaching its peak of 236,000 in 2017. The cap has since fallen every year. In 2019, 190,098 visas are scheduled to be issued.
Approximately 10,000 baby boomers retire every day in America, per a report by the Pew Research Center. While 80 percent of the more than 76 million baby boomers currently work in the labor workforce, that number is expected to drop to 40 percent by 2022.
According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center, 78 percent of high school graduates don’t meet benchmark readiness for one or more college courses in mathematics, science, reading, or English.
This lack of knowledge sinks in at an early age. According to Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit organization that develops STEM curricula, students in kindergarten through third grade spend 19 minutes a day on science and 89 minutes on language arts.
Only 398,000 women — or 14 percent of all engineers — are employed in architecture and engineering occupations, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, and those who do enter tend to leave. According to a study by the Center for Talent Innovation, women in tech jobs in the U.S. leave the field at a 45 percent higher rate than men.
While these stats are alarming, Engineered Systems continues to highlight the amazing efforts of the industry’s amazing women, including our columnists, such as Rebecca Ellis, Dr. Stephanie Taylor, and Amanda Parolise; the winners of our 20 to Watch: Women in HVAC contest; and more.
Recruiting the Next Generation
Who better to recruit engineering’s next generation than those currently working in the industry? And recruiting is more than locating talent; it’s about nurturing those individuals. This can be accomplished by offering a budding engineer a scholarship or internship. Become a mentor for a young grad student. Sponsor a capstone design project. Attend a job fair and offer real-world advice. Invite students in for a job shadowing event.
This industry is failing to sell itself; therefore, it’s up to us to fly the flag on behalf of STEM’s future.
Register for our free webinars at webinars.esmagazine.com, where users can also view any webinar from the last year on demand in our archive. Here are a few of our most recent webinars that are available to view on demand.
Parallel Operation of Standby Generators
Presented by Tim Coyle
Sponsored by Kohler
ASSE 2019 Mid-year Meeting
Facility Fusion U.S. 2019 Conference and Expo
CxEnergy 2019 Conference and Expo
AHRI Spring Meeting