Engineering labor market: Cooled down, but not cold

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With delay comes a dip in the economy, even for the specialist job market. Two current studies are showing the effect the macroeconomic climate has on engineers.

The current economic crisis is hitting the automotive industry, one of the most important sectors in Germany. A portion of the nearly one million jobs will be lost. This also affects technical specialists and management positions among manufacturers and suppliers.

Engineering labor market
There was a significant decline in vacancies for specialists in the third quarter of 2019. (Image: Hays).

The decline in demand for engineers began earlier this year. According to recruitment company Hays, the number of job offers in the area fell by around 15% in the third quarter. All in all, it’s not looking good for the automotive industry. According to Hays, the IT industry is really crashing. The ones strongly affected by this development are mostly in-demand engineers in development, automation and electronics.

The Association of German Engineers (VDI) reached similar results. The demand for labor in the third quarter of 2019 is down 4.9% compared to the same period last year, which is a clear indicator of economic cooldown. In the first quarter of this year, the number of employees subject to social insurance contributions in engineering and computer science professions throughout Germany reached 1,273,671 – a new employment record, and nearly a quarter more than in the same period in 2013.

Engineering labor market at a high level

However, all things considered, demand remains at a comparably high level. In the third quarter, there was still an average of over 124,000 vacancies to be filled each month. And since employers of engineers tend to keep their permanent staff and many of them only stop recruiting temporarily, the ones most affected at the moment are probably younger engineers with expiring project contracts and young professionals.

Engineering labor market
Hays Fachkräfte Index Germany – Engineering by industry. (Image: Hays).

Where the affected job categories are concerned, the engineering labor market is very diverse. Production-related qualifications such as engineering jobs in metal processing are still experiencing a noticeable decline in demand, while the opposite is true of service-related qualifications. The ongoing construction boom and the dynamism of digitalization are having a positive effect. Conversely, the effect of the current crisis in classic industrial sectors is negative.

Hence, according to the VDI Ingenieurmonitor (engineer monitor), IT jobs made up the lion’s share of engineering jobs in the third quarter of 2019, with an average of 43,580 vacancies a month. Expertise with interfaces was especially sought after for IT and electronics technology. Altogether, 29,490 vacancies were reported in the areas of machine and vehicle technology, and energy and electronics technology, accounting for a declining share of all vacancies in engineering and IT professions, only 24%.

Compared to the same period in the previous year, the job categories of machine and vehicle technology, and technical research and production management in particular also recorded a decline in demand for labor. This further reflects a slight slowdown in the automotive industry and machine construction.

The VDI/IW Ingenieurmonitor can be downloaded in its entirety for free.

The Hays Fachkräfte Index for the third quarter of 2019 can be downloaded for free.



Engineering professions. (Photo: pixabay/Gerd Altmann).

The downward trend is having an impact on almost all engineering professions. (Image: pixabay/Gerd Altmann).