Those who rely on engineering talent to achieve business goals have learned a hard truth in recent years: there’s a shortage of qualified engineering professionals in America. Making matters worse, finding engineers who specialize in IT is even harder. With so much demand and competition for talent, it’s no wonder roles like Software Engineer are among the jobs with the fastest growing pay in 2017. Business leaders who wish to build the best recruitment strategies must have a comprehensive understanding of how the following four trends are making it harder to hire IT engineers.
AI and Robotics Investments are Soaring
As AI and robotics move from the theoretical to the practical, investors are pouring money into the technology. AI startups raised $5 billion in funding last year, a 60% increase over the year before. Major tech players are taking notice, with Google, IBM, Apple, and others aggressively pursuing these startups and technologies. The aerospace industry has also recognized the power that AI and robotics hold, with Boeing recently investing $1 billion in a new factory for the efficient streamlining of production. This comes as no surprise, with Boeing successfully implementing a mobile system of robots to rivet planes at their 777 factory in Washington.
With these technologies finally taking flight in multiple industries, the demand for engineers will continue to rise at exponential rates. It takes talented tech engineers to not just create AI programs that determine the movements of a robot, but to also maintain those systems through updates, troubleshoot them when they fail, and monitor their performance. As demand rises alongside industry investment, there’s no question it will get even harder to hire IT engineers. And this is no fad; with a worldwide backlog of 13,300 planes and growing, major players will be investing in AI and robotics solutions for years to come.
International Talent Numbers are Declining
At a time when organizations are struggling to find qualified engineering candidates, it’s an unfortunate fact that the already-miniscule talent pool is about to become even smaller. Engineering schools have seen a 30% drop in international student applications over last year, a statistic that becomes more alarming taking into account these students make up 55% of those studying engineering and computer science in the U.S. Some programs even have enrollments that are 90% international students.
Regardless of political affiliation, the visa and immigration confusion currently happening in government is directly scaring away the talented future engineers that schools and organizations rely on for survival. Canada has taken notice and quickly moved to capitalize on the trend by easing immigration policies to attract the talent that would have otherwise brought their skill set to America. These stark warning signs point to a full-blown engineering hiring crisis ahead.
Focus on Safety Increases
When it comes to risk, businesses prefer the kind that is carefully and strategically calculated in a conference room, not the kind that comes with high-priced lawsuits. In many situations where one inept calculation can spell disaster, engineering roles are directly responsible for the safety of human beings. Recently, an engineer was on trial for the partial collapse of a mall that killed two and injured more than 20. This terrible event has resulted in many calling for tighter engineering regulations.
Engineering talent that is at the top of their game and following all applicable protocols and industry standards is critical to safety and business success. Should an engineer skimp on a process and an accident happens, they likely will not be exonerated like the engineer in the above news story. Not only that, but their employer could end up on the hook for millions in a lost lawsuit. Whether it’s increased regulations or just extra public scrutiny, an increasing focus on safety drives up demand (and competition) for the best engineers with flawless records.
Most Solutions Take Time
The strong demand and low supply of engineering talent is not a secret, and schools across the country see this shortage as an opportunity to invest in the field. Marshall University’s $56 million-dollar new engineering facilities have spiked enrollment. UTEP is spending millions to attract new engineering faculty, Mount Union in Ohio just announced three new engineering programs, and Georgia Southern University was recently approved to offer six new degree programs in their College of Engineering and Information Technology.
This movement in education to increase the number of knowledgeable engineering professionals provides hope for the future of the industry. However, a boost to the available talent pool is still years away. It takes time for new programs to rise and for newly-enrolled students to graduate and enter the job market. While it’s promising to see such investments, and to learn that enrollment for women in engineering programs is increasing due to better inclusion and industry resources, change cannot happen soon enough.
How to Hire IT Engineers
Despite a promising outlook in the future, waiting several years is not an option for a business that needs great IT engineering talent right now. As competition increases, those that are proactive and able to secure the right candidates today are the ones that will enjoy the most success. In such a case, the best way to hire an IT engineer is to partner with the staffing experts that are already connected to the best talent in the field.