Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Shortage of Engineers?

The WSJ article (subscription required) describes the false shortage of engineers felt by companies:
"Amid rapidly changing technology, the engineers employers want aren't necessarily the engineers who are available. And companies often create the very shortages they decry by insisting on applicants who meet every item on a detailed list of qualifications... Despite the numbers [of available engineers], employers say they struggle to find the right person for openings... Companies often draw up extremely narrow job descriptions, recruiters and staffing managers say, causing searches to get drawn out. "

Shouldn't there be a greater focus by companies on training people to develop the skills that you are looking for? Why do companies expect the talent to just be ready-to-go on the field?

People are pretty adaptable, trainable and smart. Why not give them a chance? I suppose companies are afraid of investing in people that might not pan out later...

As a worker, how are you supposed to anticipate what will be in high demand later?

"The basic difference between Wildfire and 2000i is not that significant," says Mr. Sylvester. "I say smart people can learn sister applications, but there is reluctance among hiring managers to see that. If they use a SAP database system, they won't even look at someone with experience with a PeopleSoft system. There is a major fear of having to bring someone up a learning curve. They want them to hit the ground running."

""Getting engineers who have the type of talent you need, quickly -- a great background, very well-educated, mobile -- has become more important over the last few years," says Jane Leipold, vice president for human resources at Tyco Electronics, Harrisburg, Pa., a unit of Tyco International Ltd. "The demands are different. The advances in technology mean you need very specific talents."

I think this is probably most important for engineers and frankly, any person:
"One employer demand that flummoxes many engineers is the need for "soft" skills -- working in groups, communicating and writing."

Technology changes quickly, but people skills are indispensable. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like companies are going to become more flexible.