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There Are Engineering Jobs, But the Engineers Are Missing

In the US and the UK, the demand for engineers is way higher than the supply.

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Let’s just say that we have been attacked by zombies and the only thing that they devour is engineers’ meat and blood. Everyone else is spared. For this, millions of identified engineers die. Only a few engineers, those quarantined, are left to do the jobs of meeting the demands of humankind.

Some sense of that scenario is already coming true as employment trends tell that there will be shortages in engineering powerhouses in the world like the United States and the United Kingdom.

Reports say that the U.S. military workforce is threatened by the shortage of skillful workers in science, technology, education, and math, or STEM degrees.

The US Department of Defense, being one of America’s largest employers of STEM workers, will be the most affected, posing an imminent threat in the security of such superpower of a nation. Other than the budget cuts, a graying workforce could spell big problems for the military going forward.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences noted, however, that there are enough scientists and engineers that perform for their defense missions. It’s just that experts say that in the coming years, there is likely to be an employment crunch.

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

In the UK, there are similar news on the shortage of engineers and other skilled personnel affecting the British military aviation safety. Suitably qualified experienced personnel are missing.

There are also problems related to the growing shortage in building and construction professionals. From plumbers to builders, there are talent gaps across a range of engineering professions.

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The most hurting effect of the shortage is the delay of the construction of vital infrastructure projects and the homes to solve UK’s housing shortage.

On top of that, the construction industry in the UK, a key economic driver, has been particularly hit hard by this shortfall. It accounts about 7% of the GDP which might just decline over the years if the trends continue.

While this is happening to countries like the U.S. and the UK, developed and developing countries are not at all exempt with the inadequate sourcing for engineers.

Australia, for example, is in dire need of engineers. Its demand for engineers far exceeds its supply of graduates. With 18,000 engineering positions needed to be filled annually, only 6,000 engineering graduates are being produced by the country. This has forced Australian companies to hire engineers from foreign land.

A huge deficit of engineers is also huge problem in Africa that hampers its economic growth and societal development. A study by Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) discovered a “strong positive correlation” between a country’s skills base in engineering and its economic development.

Source: Notes Bridge
Source: Notes Bridge

The scarcity of skills in key sectors in engineering has big repercussions.

Engineering projects and businesses alike are bound to be delayed if not stopped. When exhausting all technical talent, time is wasted in hiring and completing the project. Certain jobs are still unfilled due to lower skilled and underqualified candidates. There is a great need to re-train employees to sustain the quality and performance of engineering outputs. Not to mention the increased wage inflation.

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The cause of this career phenomenon comes from insufficient professional training. Apprenticeship solutions may have not really worked out, hence the skills gap. Academic institutions, along with the government, need to work on these aspects if they want the engineering workforce to bounce back. One way to do that is to train university leavers with the skills that the engineering fields demand from them in 10 to 15 years.

What employers can do is to improve engineering skill shortages is to train the unemployed and even the fresh ones in the industry to perform entry-level jobs. They can start there and move on to the technical experience ladder.

Sources: UNSW | The Guardian | Telegraph | US News | FT


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  1. It would be awesome if the STEM shortage myth could finally be killed. There is no general shortage of STEM professionals in general or specifically engineers. Producing more engineers in general will only worsen the actual shortage – which only exists in narrow fields, particularly software and security-clearance-holding natives – as quality of education, salary outlook and attractiveness to students with options are decreased as universities fill with modestly talented and poorly informed candidates. The “rising storm” cry-wolfers have been with us for a century too – been wrong so far.

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