Engineering shortage in America?

With reference to the article “ The 10 hardest jobs to fill in America ” in the Consulting-Specifying Engineer July 2009 issue, these labor deficits are blamed on demographic trends and failing skill levels, as well as declining work values. Many companies are looking abroad to meet their employment needs.


However, one major factor is being overlooked. Many engineers over ages 45 and 50 are being let go or just not hired. This is truly sad. These engineers have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and capabilities. This is one of the least understood aspects of the engineering shortage.


So let's take another look at our hiring practices. They're out there—ready and available.


Best regards, Howie Vactor, PE, Midwest Assocs. Cleveland


Editor-in-Chief responds

Thank you for your letter, Mr. Vactor. Indeed, ageism is more of a problem among engineers than doctors, lawyers, and accountants. Additionaly, there also is abuse of the H1-B visa program which unnecessarily brings foreign engineers into the U.S., plus the outsourcing of work to engineers overseas. On the one hand, there is (or was, until the economy tanked) a shortage of building systems engineers and the “best and brightest” students looking at becoming engineers. What people may not recognize is how much all of these issues are related. Students are researching long-term job prospects on forums such as LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, etc. If practicing engineers are not being treated well, at any age, students will turn away. This is what death spirals are made of. There are no simple solutions, but solving tough problems are what engineers are good at. What do you recommend?


Michael Ivanovich Editor-in-Chief



Send your letters to Michael Ivanovich, editor-in-chief, Consulting-Specifying Engineer , 2000 Clearwater Drive, Oak Brook, IL 60523, or via e-mail to michael.ivanovich@reedbusiness.com .


Letters should be no longer than 200 words, and may be edited for space, style, spelling, and grammar.

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