IF YOU THINK THE JOB MARKET is ramping-up with more opportunity, you are right. In my realm – manufacturing – unemployment dropped from 13% in January 2010 to 6.9% in April 2012 and remained in that range though 2013 – though it is hovering around 6.2% now.
Data for 2013 will be available later this month, but in 2012 the overall unemployment rate for those with college degrees was just 3.8%, and for those with engineering degrees unemployment was just 2.7%, explaining why nearly 600,000 manufacturing jobs went unfilled in 2012. There is an enormous need for rising stars to take supervisor roles in manufacturing that will groom them to lead manufacturing when current leaders retire.
Certainly, the 600,000 jobs that went unfilled in 2012 did not all require a college degree, but the requirements for a college degree in manufacturing became more common when the economy was in a decline and hiring was most competitive and the requirement remains with top employers. Prior to 2012, fewer manufacturing degrees required a degree and many of those who lost their jobs during the economic downturn were not college graduates. Now that the market is heating up, employers may be forced to again reduce education requirements in order to fill vacancies.
Now that the market is heating up, employers may be forced to again reduce education requirements in order to fill vacancies.
But even if educational requirements are reduced, young people are reluctant to apply for manufacturing jobs. AMSE surveys of students in high school showed a declining interest in manufacturing –“52% of teenagers 13 to 17 years old had little or no interest in a manufacturing career and another 21% were ambivalent.” Two things about these kids: first they grew up in an era when manufacturing jobs were being shipped off-shore and workers here were losing jobs, second they live in an electronic world that is less than hands-on and they are not eager to do work with their hands.
Adding to the difficulty is the fact that fewer engineering graduates landed great manufacturing jobs in 2009 – 2011, so the pool of young, educated, manufacturing talent ripe for advancement is more limited than it was prior to the recession.
The demand for manufacturing talent will continue to be greater than the supply. As the most competitive companies tap talent for pipeline roles, they will leave behind gaps that smaller companies will need to fill and these gaps will provide an excellent opportunity for long-term unemployed manufacturing talent and returning military personal to find meaningful employment.
“One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” — Benjamin Disraeli
Jeanne Ritterson, ECIR, is a full cycle recruiter employed by a Fortune 500 company. She specializes in technical recruiting and likes to understand what drives candidates so that she can assist them in a launching careers that match their career goals.