A shortage of skilled employees is driving concerns across the semiconductor and electronics component industries in the U.S. and Europe.
According to the Institute for Supply Management’s monthly factory index reports, the U.S. has seen a reduction of skilled workers in these areas since 2017. Meanwhile in Europe, employment within the electronics sector declined between 2008-2016, but actually saw a recent upsurge from 2017 on.
Following this upsurge, statistics from Oxford Economics predict a 0.2% growth in employment in European electronics sectors over the next five years. The problem is, that rate of growth isn’t nearly enough to satisfy the rapidly increasing demand for skilled workers.
This lack of skilled employees promises to slow electronics component production rates, making it a top concern for most industry professionals.
The Changing Definition of a “Skilled Employee”
Automation is here, from the self-checkout lines at grocery stores, to the robots who are assembling factory vehicles by themselves. This has caused many unskilled labor positions to disappear in areas throughout electronics industries, though that’s not the issue here.
As the electronics industry advances, and artificial intelligence (A.I.) technologies free more time and provide deeper insights into factory operations, electronics manufactures are requiring higher level skillsets from their employees.
Now, more than ever before, one’s humanity and intellectual perspectives are becoming the most desired skills to industry professionals. As A.I. learns to do everything humans do, better than humans do, the skills machines can’t replicate become most valuable. This includes everything from being able to demonstrate effective human creativity, oral expression and communication, and abstract problem-solving skills.
But for a variety of reasons, there’s not enough people bearing those skills drawn into the electronics industries.
Why Electronics Employees are so Hard to Hire
Not much data is available on employee trends in the electronics industry, but one reason for low employment stands out:
Electronics industry professionals require high-level skillsets, but most electronics manufacturing jobs pay less wages than similar positions of other industries. Because of this, the pool of qualified electronics employee is shrinking all the time. Those who are qualified often choose other careers due to a lack of compensation.
Electronics market conditions and dynamic international factors, like the Brexit negotiations and U.S.-China trade war, all certainly play a part here, too. But until more information on electronics employment trends are available, the extent to which they do aren’t entirely certain.
Collaboration: The Key to a Data-Driven Solution
While the Oxford Economics report mentioned before is a great step in monitoring electronics industry trends to take informed preventative actions, it also states that further research is required for the skilled labor problem. This means employers must collect and share their data regarding employment issues to create a comprehensive picture of the problem before them.
Because, as it stands, no solutions to this low employment problem exist or are even expected in the near future.