Electrical engineers defy the economic lull

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Reports about job cuts are increasing. However, engineers and computer scientists have little to worry about: they are being employed in record numbers.

Although the German economy is now only cautiously optimistic regarding 2019, the economic climate remains stable, as the domestic market increasingly determines cyclical trends. And this market is benefiting from low interest rates and the fact that investment bottlenecks in the private and public sectors appear to be nearing an end. Despite global economic risks, business activity is currently moving sideways at a continuing high level.

In this environment, engineers have little to worry about for the coming quarters. This is because their expertise is vital in the increasing penetration of society and the economy with digitization technologies and in areas such as autonomous driving, IT security, and smart homes. According to a study conducted by the Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (VDE), more than 100,000 jobs in these professions will remain unfilled for the next ten years. This is also due to the extremely high dropout rate of around 40 percent.

Last year, the VDE counted 393,600 electrical engineers in employment, considerably more than the almost 188,000 that the German Federal Statistical Office reports as “employees subject to social insurance contributions” for this professional group. This is because self-employed engineers, electrical engineers in management positions, tutors, and even sales engineers are not officially listed under typical engineering professions in the statistics. The unemployment rate of just 2.2 percent counts as almost full employment.

Potentially record-breaking engineers

Electrical engineers
Engineers and computer scientists are being employed in record numbers. (Imager: VDI)

The latest Ingenieurmonitor (engineer monitor) published each quarter by the Institute of Economic Research (IW) on behalf of the Association of German Engineers (VDI) also reports a new employment record. According to the publication, about 1.21 million employees subject to social insurance contributions work in engineering and computer science professions (including civil engineers) throughout Germany. In the first quarter of 2019, on a monthly average there were 126,370 vacancies to be filled – 1.2 percent more than the previous year’s quarter. On the other hand, on a monthly average 30,557 people were seeking a job in an engineering profession. This was a 5.7 percent reduction in the number of people registering as unemployed within one year.

These trends are also reflected in the “bottleneck indicator,” which, throughout Germany and across all engineering professional categories, was 414 vacancies per 100 unemployed in the first quarter of 2019. Here, too, throughout Germany the front runners are civil engineering professions with 564 vacancies per 100 unemployed, followed closely by computer science professions, with 557 vacancies per 100 unemployed. These are followed by energy and electrical engineers (510) and mechanical and automotive engineers (399).

“State-typical” demand for engineers

Computer scientists are especially in demand in Baden-Wuerttemberg (943), Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia (841), Saxony (759) and Bavaria (737). Baden-Wuerttemberg (880), Bavaria (869), Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia (700), on the other hand, are looking particularly for energy and electrical engineers. On the whole, in the first quarter of 2019, the bottleneck ratios rose compared to the previous year’s quarter in almost all German states. Only North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is the exception. While unemployment on the whole fell, vacancies increased, which means that NRW is currently flat-lining in the engineering area and is falling behind the other states.

The complete VDI/IW Ingenieurmonitor (german) can be downloaded for free.




Electrical engineers (Image: pixabay/ Gerd Altmann).

Despite the slightly clouded economic forecast, demand for engineers remains unabated. (Image: pixabay/ Gerd Altmann).