The German Engineering Association is reporting a shortage of 18,000 engineers, and one of the reasons for the shortfall, according to this story in Thursday’s Marketplace Morning Edition, is that many students are not that attracted to the study or profession. One survey ranked engineering as the seventh most preferred profession, trailing pastor or grade school teacher. The annual number of engineering grads has dropped from 43,000 to 33,000 over the last decade.
[ANTJE] LIENERT: I think we have a little bit a problem with the image of engineers at the moment. Our young people want to study more communication and journalism and stuff.
Boy, that sounds familiar. In response, German industry is trying to interest young people in science, math and engineering. One example of this push is Phaeno, a science center/museum located across the street from the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg.
For all the interesting comparisons to the shortage of skilled employees in U.S. manufacturing, we should note that the Germans face one other obstacle to finding enough engineers, etc., for industry: emigration. Last year, 145,000 Germans emigrated — the highest number since 1954 — fleeing a stagnant economy and high unemployment. Engineers and other skilled workers featured prominently in the opportunity-seeking group.
“Many highly qualified young people are leaving our country to seek their fortunes elsewhere, while only very few top people have been attracted to Germany in recent years,” said Ludwig Georg Braun, president of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, which represents more than 3 million companies. “This development is causing us growing concern.”
Oh, yes. In case you were wondering, the German word for “skills gap” is Arbeiterfaehigkeitenluecke. We think.