Jobs/Employment

The US is facing a critical shortage of high tech engineers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2016 and 2026 there has been and will be a shortfall of six million engineers, or more.

The US is facing a critical shortage of high tech engineers
Scripps News

In the heart of downtown Atlanta sits one of the nation’s fastest growing tech innovation hubs. It’s called Tech Square and over 30 major tech companies have moved in. The eight-block stretch in midtown Atlanta is the southeast’s highest density of research facilities, startups and corporate innovators.   

"So Georgia Tech stands in amazing moment in time in the city of Atlanta. Atlanta is booming in terms of companies coming in and investments coming in. People from Asia are coming. Europe is here. South America is here," said Dr. Mitchell Walker, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Georgia Tech and a professor at the School of Aerospace Engineering.

But why have the three biggest names in tech — Apple, Google and Microsoft — all set up shop in Atlanta in recent years? 

"When a company comes here, Georgia Tech is here and we are making engineers, we are making computer scientists, and they're all ready to go join these companies with the highest training in the world, either with a bachelor's and master's or a Ph.D. And they can get that talent local," Walker said. 

But even with schools like Georgia Tech being amongst the top producers of engineers in America, it is projected that between 2016-2024 America will be over six million short of the number of engineers needed to keep up with our increasingly tech-savvy lifestyles, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a recent panel on the future of microelectronics at Purdue University, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo expresses her concerns. 

"And every company you talk to, literally everyone, including the ones in the booths, will tell you the thing they're most worried about is talent. The rate limiting factor to growth is talent. And by the way, it's at every level, right? Process engineers, technicians, to the Ph.D. [in] physics and the like," Raimondo said. 

What’s behind the shortage? 

The country has experienced a growing disinterest in STEM over the years. Now the government, academic institutions and companies are banking on making science and engineering cool again.  

Google axes 12,000 jobs, layoffs spread across tech sector
Google axes 12,000 jobs, layoffs spread across tech sector

Google axes 12,000 jobs, layoffs spread across tech sector

The jobs being eliminated "cut across Alphabet, product areas, functions, levels and regions," Google head Sundar Pichai said.

LEARN MORE

Kevin Lavallee, CEO of TKE Elevator North America, is looking to fill STEM positions.

SCRIPPS NEWS' STEPHEN GRADDICK: You're looking to fill almost 900 positions, yes? What's your strategy for that?

KEVIN LAVALLEE: And our thoughts here are that if you're an engineer or you're coming from the science and or manufacturing technology, pretty exciting place to be. You know, you have everything available here. You have the training, you have corporate headquarters already. Relocating gives you lots of opportunity, if the elevator industry wasn't for you, but we're pretty sure it will be.

TKE is a global leader in the elevator space. Just last year, they opened the North America headquarters in Atlanta. The company employs over 50,000 people worldwide and plans to recruit talent from the pool of engineers in the area.  

With more companies like TKE flooding the Atlanta job market with open positions, first year students like Raymond Doe say that there is a sea of options to choose from. 

"It's a very competitive market. My major, biomedical engineering, is one of the newer aspects of the medical field. So steadily growing occupation. And what I love about Georgia Tech is the we have boundless opportunities to get, you know, co-ops, internships," Doe said. 

"When our students walk across the stage, 86% of them have at least one job or offer in hand, and their starting salary is on average $88,000. The average for the country is only $58,000," Walker said. 

Dr. Walker says there’s an unlocked potential in groups that have often been overlooked in the STEM fields.  

"We create the most female engineers in the country. We award degrees to the most underrepresented student groups in the country," he said.

But the future of engineering in America is on the line. A more diverse group is needed and Atlanta’s tech mecca hopes to meet that need.