A few years ago, the United States released some grim statistics for anyone in the field of Electrical Engineering. At the time, there were roughly 316,000 Electrical Engineers in the entire country employed. Just a year later, that number decreed to under 300,000. Based on graduating data, as well as projected trends in workforce skill set entry, they anticipated that number to grow by 0% over the next decade.
That was absolutely no growth projected in the field of Electrical Engineers at all in ten years.
Why has Electrical Engineering fallen to such catastrophic levels?
The answer is not so simple.
Contracting Out Created The Crisis
In recent decades, a large amount of the job growth stall, and eventual decline, in Electrical Engineering has been a result of companies seeking to save money by contracting outside of the United States.
The effects of this new practice had on American workers can not go understated. Outsourcing of Electrical Engineering turned into a zero-sum game, where companies saw the greatest fiscal rewards, while employees and the field at large suffered greatly.
The good news is that government incentives and new trade requirements have brought the work back home, with companies being in the position of having more American-made products growing in demand.
But the field still has many challenges as it recovers.
Lack of Talent
Of course, as the field of Electrical Engineering recovers around the country, with job growth expected to begin to rise again over the next decade now that those new safeguards have been put in place to ensure continued employment within the US, there is a new problem presented: a general lack of talent.
Electrical Engineers were, by and large, being contracted out of the US for such a long period of time that millennials moved away from the field. Gen Z is reporting all time low rates of graduates in the field of Electrical Engineering, opting for more lucrative, localized software-based positions.
Thus companies are finding themselves tasked with finding good, qualified Electrical Engineers in a pool where there is a general lack of talent seeking out employment. Moreover, Human Resource departments have become largely unskilled in finding top talent within the field, after years of stalemate growth for hiring of Electrical Engineering positions.
A particularly unique challenge to Electrical Engineering positions is in their geographic distribution through out the country.
The top, three states hosting positions in the field currently hold at: California, Texas, and New York. Though California is among the highest employing Electrical Engineers, with roughly 24, 690 Electrical Engineers currently employed – more than double those in the state of New York.
Presenting a considerable challenge to companies outside of the big 3, of course, is that talent is again not located geographically, presenting companies with limited options for local talent, or higher costs to relocate employees from other areas of the country. This makes the utilization of trained recruiters and headhunters, with inside knowledge of the field, that much more important.
Electrical Engineering is slowly, but steadily, recovering from the outsourcing practices of decades past. But only time will tell if the United States can overcome the challenges presented in its recovery. Hopefully, Electrical Engineering will one day again be the booming industry it once was.
Jacob Darr Associates is a recruiting firm based in High Point, NC, and specializes in Manufacturing. We are an electrical engineering expert recruiting firm. Contact us today.
- Jacob Darr