Engineering jobs continue to evolve almost as rapidly as the technological landscape shifts. This shift has been ushered in by what is called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
This new revolution involves the use and implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) as well as Big Data. These trends have already begun to generate a demand for engineers who can help to develop and utilize them.
Currently, automated systems are a chief source of the boom in engineering jobs in nearly every industry. Consequently, robotics, AI and streamlining processes are impacting how engineers are viewed and incorporated into a company’s productivity.
This means that companies are willing to go to great lengths to attract the best and the brightest, and to do what it takes to keep them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that employment in this field will grow by more than eight percent this year and is projected to increase, along with national employment, to over 11 million within the next ten years.
For those companies who have already implemented technologies, the focus is going to be on optimizing those processes. This can include efficient updates for supply chain, product design, planning and forecasting models and optimizing all of those processes as well.
Companies will continue to use the Lean Six Sigma systems, which means the need for engineers as well as other engineering experts will continue to be high. Current job positions featuring optimization as a job description indicate that 20 percent were in quality control, 10 percent in lean manufacturing practices, and 10 percent in Six Sigma Systems.
Projects revolving around sustainability, such as energy conservation, lowered carbon footprint processes, resource utilization and waste reduction, will employ large numbers of engineers in the coming year. Additionally, industry members predict that more progress will be made towards developing new and renewable sources of energy.
The Department of Labor anticipates that, in two years, there will be an increased demand for environmental engineers to coincide with the increased focus on climate change. Companies are likely to begin looking for engineers who can design eco-friendly packaging and other types of lightweight, low-impact goods that appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.
AM stands for Additive Manufacturing and is used in the process of creating something by adding consecutive units to the original piece. A good example of this is 3D printing. As this technology continues to mature, the demand for engineers is going to expand tremendously into the medical, aerospace, and automotive sectors.
Engineers who are not only familiar with the process but are also able to troubleshoot, create new processes and even utilize new methods to create better end products are going to command high salaries and job stability.
On-demand printing of everyday items is not that far away, and on the forefront of this are engineers working in the IIOT (Industrial internet of things). The interface complexities between manufacturing equipment and data will require a highly skilled group of engineers. Engineers will be hired to manage the enterprise resource planning (ERP) and computer-aided design and manufacturing, as well as to help to enable and usher in the era of the “smart factory.”
In an effort to reduce overhead and offer benefits and incentivizing packages, many companies are starting to offer engineers the ability to work from a home office. In a salary report from late 2018, at least 60 percent of workers in the tech industry said they could do their job at a comparable or better rate if they were able to work at home. Additionally, more than 60 percent of workers said they would be willing to take a slight pay cut to be able to work form home, even if it is part time.
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Telecommuting in most areas has increased by 115 percent over the last 12 years. Dell, a computer tech company, is one company offering this type of hybrid arrangement to great success. By 2020 they project to increase the number of employees working remotely by 50 percent.
Many engineers leave the 9-5 workforce to work from home offices as freelancers or consultants. Companies are following suit and this trend will continue to grow this year for engineers. Google, for example, already has more freelancers and consultants working on short-term contracts and projects than they have full-time workers.
A World Economic Forum reported that in less than three years the world would see automation reducing full time workforces by half. This means businesses will continue to outsource contracts and projects to contract, freelance workers. This allows more flexibility and competition in the labor market.
Additionally, the WED wrote in its “Future Of Jobs” report that 50 percent out of the 313 global companies that it surveyed expect that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforces by 2022. In addition, businesses are set to expand their use of contract workers and will be hiring more on project-based or temporary capacity to have better flexibility in labor market transformations.
What does all of this mean if you are still in college or are just about to transition into the work world? It means you can expect to find the hiring level for entry level engineers to increase dramatically.
Currently, there are not enough engineers to meet the workforce demands, which means that entry level engineers are probably going to be hired at higher rates than usual. Companies will compensate by offering training to inexperienced new hires.
If you are still in school, this also means that internship opportunities are going to be plentiful. Overall, these opportunities can place you in a position to be quite marketable by the time you graduate.
Internships are particularly important because companies will be able to carefully select and hire only those candidates who are expecting realistic salaries and benefits packages. Finally, you have the option of looking for recruitment companies that help to locate highly qualified candidates for all engineering positions.
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