llinois manufacturers need about 27,000 workers a year, for the next five years, just to keep up with retirements. The only problem is, there aren't 30,000 workers with the skills to fill the jobs.
"Manufacturers need 22,000 production workers and 5,000 engineers every year, for the next five years between now and 2027 just to cover retirements of the baby boomers," Jim Nelson of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association said. "So there are jobs available."
Nelson said there's a need for truck drivers, welders, craftsmen, manufacturers, supervisors, and a whole lot of other workers....
...But not enough of the workers who are available in Illinois have the skills that employers need. The biggest reason for that, Nelson said, is that Illinois high schools are still focused on sending kids to college.Maybe Mr. Nelson is using a very broad definition of an engineer, but 5,000 a year? Really?
There are a couple of ways to look at this: first, does that number make sense from a generation perspective? The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the state of Illinois employs 90,510 people in the architecture and engineering occupations (which includes engineering technicians.) Does it make sense that they have to replace a quarter of this workforce in the next 5 years? (or the next ten?) I think that number seems at least a little bit inflated, or perhaps the Illinois manufacturing workforce is older than I understand. Could go one way or another, it seems.
Secondly, let's think about whether or not that is even possible to replace this number of engineers. The University of Illinois (a very fine engineering school) has 9145 undergraduates, which suggests that it graduates ~2300 engineers a year. Not enough for Mr. Nelson. There are, of course, other very fine engineering schools in the Land of Lincoln, but let's just reach over into the Crossroads of America and steal some Purdue engineering graduates. The undergraduate enrollment of the Purdue College of Engineering is 12,477 undergraduates, or ~3100 graduates a year.
So if every single engineering graduate of both Illinois and Purdue decide to turn down the temptations of Silicon Valley or the depredations of the coasts to stay in the Midwest, maaayyybbe Illinois manufacturing will be okay.
(looks like wages for engineers in Illinois will be going up? I hope?)