Auto/Economy
12:10 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Automakers face engineer shortage

Last year, many automakers brought in profits and announced that they would open up new factories and add new jobs.

But the industry is adding new jobs at a time when qualified candidates are hard to come by.

David Shepardson wrote about the shortage in the Detroit News today:

"This is a serious issue, and we need to find more talented people and convince more young people to go into auto engineering," said David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, noting automakers are working with universities to help recruit more engineers. "The industry needs more talented people to build the next generation of vehicles."

Automakers are in need of engineers who can design vehicles that don't rely on the traditional internal combustion engine and who can boost fuel economy in a time of higher gas prices and more stringent fuel economy standards from the federal government.

The car companies are working to overcome the image of an industry that laid off tens of thousands and shuttered auto plants around the country.

The Detroit Free Press wrote about the challenges in an article from April 1st:

...automakers face the challenge of recruiting people to join an old-guard manufacturing industry after years of job cuts and salaried buyouts.

"For me, it's a minor bump right now. The industry has a long, rich history," said Rhet De Guzman, 26, a Ph.D. student at Wayne State University. "I can see that this is a solid industry."

This year, U.S. auto industry sales are expected to increase about 10 percent to 12.5 million. But that's still a far cry from the 16 million or more sold annually for most of the last decade.

"I have confidence that the auto industry will come back," said Rihong Mo, 50, who left General Electric's locomotive division in November after more than 11 years with the company to lead a team of engineers at Ford. "This is the frontier of electric motors."

The Society of Automotive Engineers is holding its conference in Detroit this week.35 companies will hold career fairs at the conference, according to the Detroit News.