A survey of employers shows the hardest jobs to fill in the U.S. are engineering positions. Dave Scott, executive director of the Iowa Engineering Society, says he’s not surprised.
"Every year, we have a roundtable discussion where we bring in the principals of the engineering firms in the state," Scott said. "The number one discussion every year is how do we attract engineers to Iowa?" The survey, released Wednesday by Manpower, also included skilled trades and technicians in the list of top 10 hardest jobs to fill. Like engineering, those positions require a strong knowledge of math and science.
Scott says engineering firms in Iowa aren’t having trouble finding college graduates, but rather professional engineers with several years of experience. "When you come out of college as an engineer, you’re an engineering graduate, you’re not a professional engineer," Scott explained. "You have to first take a fundamental exam, then you have to have four years of experience, then you take a profession exam after that. So, in order to really have somebody to sort of hit the ground running and put their signature on a project, they’re going to (need) about five years of experience."
There are nearly 150 engineering firms in Iowa, some with as few as two or three employees. Scott says the firms located in small towns have an especially hard time finding qualified workers. "I even had one firm tell me that they were contacted by someone who was following their spouse and was moving to their town…they hired him, although they didn’t really need anyone at the time, they knew that they would eventually," Scott said.
"To have somebody walk into small town Iowa looking for an engineering job was such a rarity that they just hired him, knowing they would need him down the road." Scott says many engineering firms in Iowa offer big salaries and signing bonuses to new hires right out of college. According to the Manpower survey, other jobs that are hard to fill include nurses, teachers, sales reps and I-T staff.