Employers Struggle to Find Engineers With In-Demand Skills

A study finds many candidates lack the experience required

20 April 2016

Engineering is considered to be one of the top 10 hardest fields to fill, according to a survey conducted by ManpowerGroup, a human resources consulting firm in Milwaukee. Piggybacking on this finding, the company dug deeper into why this might be. Among the reasons are a lack of the right technical and soft skills for the job. 

Of the 70 employers who completed the follow-up survey, more than 82 percent reported challenges in filling existing vacancies, and 20 percent were not optimistic that they will be able to hire the engineering talent they need.

The hiring companies said the most difficult positions to fill are mechanical engineers, followed by electrical engineers.


To deal with the skill shortage, the report recommends there should be more educational programs within the company. ManpowerGroup warns, though, that building a talent pool takes time, as many experienced engineers, specifically those from the baby boomer generation, are approaching retirement age. Rich Hutchings, vice president of engineering at Experis, a ManpowerGroup subsidiary, says that because of this and a lack of skilled entrants to the profession, engineers who are willing to pursue continuing education will have a lot of opportunities to advance in their careers.

Results from the survey suggest that employers that provide training programs for their employees retain them longer, and this benefit has more appeal to job applicants.


Some 700 engineers also took the survey, providing their take on career advancement opportunities. Of the respondents, 28 percent had 25 or more years of experience, with only 5 percent in engineering for less than a year. More than half the engineers surveyed said they feel satisfied or extremely satisfied in their current positions, yet 41 percent are actively looking for new job opportunities. About 33 percent intend to change employers before the year is over, and another third are considering their options.

Some of the reasons cited are to earn a higher salary, bigger bonuses, and better incentives. Engineers surveyed also listed other considerations, such as health benefits, work-life balance, and office culture. However, job seekers seem less concerned about professional training and career development than prospective employers.  

Do you think job seekers are overconfident about their skills and their ability to land a new job, or are employers asking for too much?

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