The shortage of engineering talent persists, but that hasn't stopped the industry as a whole from growing. Is there hope on the horizon from the next generation of talent? Or will employers have to get creative about finding the people they need to keep their businesses growing?

We broke down the latest trends creating barriers to hiring and provided steps you can take to help you overcome each. If you're looking to hire in engineering, here's what you should know.

engineering by the numbers

Engineering job opportunities are expected to grow at an average rate, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) attributes to increased demand in areas like infrastructure, renewable energy, oil and gas extraction and robotics

  • automation and robotics engineers: 11,615 job postings

  • civil/structural engineers: 98,462 job postings

  • electrical/electronics engineers: 88,757 job postings

  • petroleum engineers: 1,962 job postings

Unfortunately, the shortage of engineering talent means finding candidates to fill these roles will remain challenging.

140,000 new engineering jobs are expected to be created by 2026 — yet engineers make up less than 2% of the overall workforce.

Employers hoping to weather the storm should be warned: the pipeline isn't promising, and the numbers show that help may not be on the way anytime soon. 

what this means for employers

Between a dwindling pipeline and a rising shortage of talent, employers must take action to find the engineering candidates they need to meet their goals.

We broke down some of the major trends creating hurdles for those looking to hire in this occupational segment and laid out clear steps to follow to overcome each one.

trends arrow blue illustration trend:
engineering talent isn't on the market
for long

how this affects you:
decreases your ability to attract top talent

speed up your hiring process

In industries like engineering where talent is in short supply, you need to be able to act fast and make a hire once you've found a qualified candidate. But what your business typically considered to be fast in the past may no longer be quick enough. Just take a look at the numbers: Top talent is only on the market for 10 days, yet the average time to hire for many businesses hovers more around two to three months.*

To prime your hiring process for this new accelerated timeline, follow these steps:

  • Plan ahead: The better you understand your short- and long-term hiring needs, the better equipped you'll be to conduct a fast and efficient hiring process. Sit down with business leaders to quantify headcount for upcoming initiatives and start laying the groundwork for your search as far in advance as possible. 

  • Search with purpose:  There's no longer time to cast a wide net for candidates. Search for engineering talent on the channels they use most to increase your chances. For example, use social media recruiting for millennials, attend job fairs for Gen Z or start an employee referral program for baby boomers. 

  • Use the right messaging: Avoid stale boilerplate messaging on your job posts. Make them short, engaging and evocative of all the benefits and excitement that working for your organization can bring. 

trends arrow turquoise illustration trend:
fewer students are pursuing STEM

how this affects you:
fewer candidates to replace your retirees

upskill your existing employees 

With fewer students choosing to pursue STEM careers, and the existing engineering workforce aging at a rapid rate, the next generation of talent you were counting on may not come from outside your organization. To get around this challenge, focus on upskilling the existing employees you do have.

certificate82% of employees believe lifelong 
learning is important, but nearly
40% said their employees don't
provide upskilling opportunities.

Providing enhanced training and development opportunities can improve employee satisfaction and allow you to fill skills gaps in your workforce without having to engage the tight talent market. 

  • Identify your weaknesses. Conduct a skills-gap analysis to uncover all the areas you need to address through training.

  • Find the right people. Talk with employees to get an idea of the paths they'd like to pursue in their careers and pair them with the right programs.

  • Provide access to outside learning: If you don't have the time or resources to provide instruction in certain areas, connect employees with outside programs that can be reimbursed. 

trends arrow yellow illustration trend:
salaries are rising as a result of the competition

how this affects you:
could lose out on talent if you don't stay current

provide competitive pay and benefits

The talent market responds to scarcity in the same way as any other. That which is hard to find will command a higher price, and today's engineering talent is no exception. Keeping your pay and benefits competitive will be critical in ensuring your organization doesn't lose out on talent to organizations with deeper pockets. 

55 percent55% of employees said they'd left
a job before because they received
better benefits elsewhere.

Use a salary calculator: To make sure your pay is leading the competition in your area, consult an online salary calculator. With pay data updated quarterly, you'll always be sure you're offering the best rate.

Improve benefits: Employee expectations around benefits are always changing, so it's important to stay on top of the latest trends to keep your offering current. Based on our polling, here's what today's workers said they value most:

  • benefits that enhance their overall quality of life (94%)

  • assistance that makes sense for their life stage (student loan assistance for young professionals and better healthcare for older workers)

  • better communication about what's offered (only 48% said they know about or take advantage of all benefits offered by their employers) 

Provide perks: In addition to benefits, a well-built perks program can sweeten the pot in favor of your organization. Consider offering:

  • early Friday releases

  • onsite amenities like gyms, dry cleaning and child care

  • unlimited vacation time

key takeaways

The shortage of engineering talent continues to persist. The current workforce is aging at the same time that fewer and fewer students are electing to pursue careers in STEM. That's not to say that all hope is lost if you're searching for engineering talent, it just means that you'll need to become more proactive about hiring — and make some adjustments to the way you may have gone about doing it — to stay competitive. That includes:

  • accelerating your hiring process

  • prioritizing training and development

  • offering competitive pay and compensation 

Following these guidelines will help you stay in the running for top engineering talent, but if you're looking for an extra edge, then consider taking it one step further. Tailoring your hiring strategy to align with the individual specificities of each position you're looking to fill will give you the greatest chances of landing your ideal candidates.

Visit the page below to get tailored advice on how to hire for some of engineering's most in-demand positions today.

Eng Hiring Guide Banner


* Randstad US, “randstad client survey executive summaries.” 2019.

ready to learn more?

Get in touch with us today to learn more about all the ways that Randstad can help your business. start a conversation