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Recruiting Trends
by Jay Allbritton
Jallbritton@ccgmag.com
THE PLUS AND THE MINUS OF ENGINEERING RECRUITING
The current economic downturn provides mixed prospects pillars of consumer spending and small businesses that derive
for engineering job seekers. On the negative side, the world income from providing local goods and service. If economists
faces the greatest increase in unemployment in decades and are right, while the latter may rebound first, small businesses
most economists predict that average joblessness in the de- generally do not need, or cannot afford, recruiters.
veloped world will surpass 10 percent by the end of the year.
Even when a recovery starts, employment is expected to lag
Still, students face a positive/negative scenario. On the
other economic indicators.
downside, employers have trimmed on-campus recruiting. But
recruiters are more frequent attendees at job fairs, and the
That said, engineering professionals seeking employment Collegiate Employment Research Institute reports that 86 per-
face brighter prospects. There are indications that the second cent of companies continue to support internship and co-op
quarter will produce healthier growth in the infrastructure, en- programs. The latter effort keeps engineering students in the
ergy, information technology, education, healthcare, and gov- job pipeline until the economy turns around.
ernment sectors. Recruiters will refocus on engineering, and
its sub-disciplines, as the demand for skilled personnel always
That’s a crucial plus as other short-term projections are
exceeds the supply. An interesting side note is that the dis-
less sanguine. Employment opportunities for students gradu-
satisfaction some working engineers have with their employ-
ating this spring may be down eight percent. A trend that
ers may contribute to openings in the field. A recent survey of
presents a grim picture, when it is combined with an overall
engineers shows that nearly 25 percent say it is unlikely that
14 percent reduction in engineering recruiting since July 2007.
they will remain in their current positions during the next year.
Longer-term projections are rosier. The Bureau of Labor
Reasons include possible layoffs, a belief that they will not be
Statistics forecasts an 11 percent expansion of engineering
promoted, inadequate pay, or a desire to change careers.
jobs by 2016, due partly to the imminent retirement of large
Other factors that affect employment include the individ-
groups of baby boomer engineers and no increase in the num-
ual and corporate necessity to reduce debt. A natural instinct
ber of engineering degree holders.
for large employers facing tighter budgets is to drop full-time
The nation’s historically black college and universities face
recruiting services in favor of part-time and contract hirers.
lower enrollments, diminished endowments, and decreased
Additionally, US gross domestic product relies upon the twin
fundraising. This hurts because HBCUs often rely more heavily
on tuition for institutional support
than white-majority schools. At
PROJECTED GROWTH IN SELECT ENGINEERING FIELDS February’s 2009 Black Engineer of the
FROM 2006 TO 2016 Year conference, Legand Burge, the
dean of the Tuskegee University Col-
Environmental 25%
lege of Engineering, Architecture, and
Biomedical 21%
Physical Sciences, noted that during
the previous six months a number of
Industrial 20% prospective employers had rescinded
Industrial including health and safety 19%
their offers to “a lot” of his new en-
gineering graduates. Yet, despite the
Civil 18% bleak overall forecast, the reputation
of HBCU engineering programs, and
All 11%
their successful alumni, continues
Marine 11%
to draw institutional and corporate
Aerospace 10%
support. Last February, at the height
of the financial and economic col-
Mining & geological 10%
lapse, Siemens Building Technologies
awarded a $50,000 grant to North
10% Health & safety engineers, except mining
Carolina A&T State University’s Col-
0 5 10 15 20 25
lege of Engineering.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm#outlook
www.blackengineer.com USBE & Information Technology I DEANS Edition 2009 43
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