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Where Have All the Engineers Gone?
Monday, April 02, 2012

There's good news for job seekers in Michigan in the engineering field. Last month at an Engineering Society of Detroit job fair, the number of available jobs outnumbered seekers 6-1.

In attendence were 51 companies within the engineering industry looking to fill a total of 3,500 positions. The problem remains, however, that there is a shortage of qualifed workers to fill them. Applicants with mismatched skills are causing many positions to stay open leading to a stall in growth for business and the economy.

Even though unemployment rates continue to drop, the improvement is not fast enough to change the staggering high numbers. The hard times have compelled many people to either go into early retirement or change careers entirely.

Along with the engineering sector, others like power distribution, environmental and IT are feeling the shortage of talent. Many companies in these industries can have positions open form months.

As demand for software development increases, companies like WorkForce can't keep up without the adequate amount of man power needed. There were 600,000 skilled positions left unfilled just in the U.S. manufacturing industry alone, according to survey by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute toward the end of the summer.

What this trend is showing is that while jobs are generating in certain sectors and industries, there aren't enough workers skilled in those areas to fill them showing the need for more education and more training. In that case, instead of settling for last resorts, workers in Michigan should find ways of qualifying to fill these in-demand, high-paying positions.

Speaking of pay, faced with increasing pressure to close the growing gap in open positions, companies are now raising the pay to entice skilled workers to fill the demand. In efforts to help the engineering industries find the workers they so desperately need, groups like Global Talent Retention Inititative of Southeast Michigan, Shifting Code, and Made in Michigan Pipeline have initiated campaigns and programs.

These will either train or recruit candidates and hopefully get them back in the workforce and stimulate the dormant potential within Michigan's economy.

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