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Why there is a shortage of skilled workers and what this means for young engineers and companies

Problems with young talent in electrical engineering and Technischer support – nothing new at first. Nevertheless, it is a cause for concern. The short-lived, pandemic-induced dip in personnel demand has long since been overcome.1 Whats more, the current VDE study Arbeitsmarkt 2022 – Elektroingenieurinnen und Elektroingenieure: Zahlen, Fakten, Schlussfolgerungen finds a drastic gap between the need for electrical engineers and young graduates in the field of electrical engineering.2 In 2022 alone, a need for nearly 20,000 additional electrical engineers would be met by only about 8,600 graduates.3 One of the reasons: Interest in electrical engineering has been declining for years.4

Electrical engineering industry of the future

This is certainly not due to the industry’s future potential: Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence, robotics, and smart grid are among the major fields of today and tomorrow. This is increasingly a challenge for companies. For young engineers in particular, this opens up great professional and career opportunities. Far from the semiconductor crisis and supply chain problems, what is needed above all is engineering expertise to map these major trends and develop them further. When electronic components such as resistors, sensors, transformers, or capacitors are designed and installed for specific applications, technical know-how is in demand.

Listening. Thinking. Thinking ahead.

The search for well-trained junior staff is becoming increasingly difficult, and not just in terms of numbers. Those who look abroad to scour the markets for skilled workers are increasingly disappointed. The shortage of engineers is global. Even supposed technology locations such as Taiwan, China, Israel, or the USA are struggling with the dwindling pool of electrical engineers.5 The “feeding” practiced for years with good salaries and the usual goodies is no longer enough for young engineers today. They are looking for meaning and, despite all the technical fixation in their careers, for values that are lived out in the company: Listening. Thinking. Thinking ahead.

Flexible working methods required

The digitalization of the world of work is also creating new opportunities and requirements: The pandemic period with the recommendation or obligation to work from home has shown that the physical proximity between the company location and the employee no longer plays a decisive role. Home office, hybrid work, and remote working have become a matter of course. Conversely, 9-to-5 has had its day. Young engineers in particular are clamoring for flexible working time models – and quite rightly so in most areas. Work, free time, and family must become compatible. In other words, a work-life balance that is not just called that, but actually works and is actively supported by the employer. Incentives must be created for potential candidates. To make oneself attractive in the highly competitive recruiting market. To broaden the view in order to get rid of outdated habits. And to be transparent in all of this.

Retaining employees

To prevent recruiting from becoming an endless spiral, employees must also be able to identify with the company’s purpose in the long term. Employee loyalty – this is of great relevance, especially in the technical sector, where the knowledge base of employees is often the most valuable asset. The aforementioned work-life balance, company health management, an appreciative corporate culture, and open error culture all play a role here. Likewise, employer care in mental and psychological health is becoming increasingly important.

Shaping the future with engineers

An easing of the situation on the specialist market for electrical engineers is not to be expected in the foreseeable future. Rather, according to experts, the situation will continue to dramatize – increasing technologization, especially the internationally accelerated expansion of semiconductor production, is taking its toll. Companies that combine a flexible approach to work, a healthy culture, and employee loyalty in an attractive package have a good chance of winning over the engineers of the future. And to shape the future with them.

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