Help Wanted! Our 2017 Industry Hiring Survey
January 2017: This month we conducted an industry survey on plans for hiring during the year. Included here is a summary of the results. We started by simply asking, “Do you plan to hire additional people this year?” More than half of the respondents answered yes while about a third said no—which we take as an optimistic sign that our industry plans to expand in 2017.
And, while we didn’t ask how many people per company, it can be noted by the responses to Question 2 that those companies are planning to hire on average 2.5 people this year.
Plus, based on Question 3 responses, a great deal of that will take place in the first half of the year.
It is interesting to note that the bulk of the planned new hires will be in technical and operations areas (line operators, process engineers and the like) with few in administration and management. As expected, a good number of sales and customer service personnel will also be added. We believe this points to a general flattening of internal structure and a real expansion in the industry.
Question 4 on “greatest challenges when hiring” was open-ended but the responses quickly broke down into four major groups with “finding qualified candidates” the overwhelming concern—93% of respondents cited this as a challenge.
Answers ranged from “no pool of experienced operators” to “finding seasoned engineers” to “finding the right people that fit.” It certainly sounds like there is a real shortage of qualified people to help our industry expand.
In that same group of answers, under “Cost,” we lumped “government regulations” (certainly a burdensome cost) as well as “financing” and “realistic wage expectations.” Under “Career-minded,” we lumped “people that actually want to work” and “finding reliable people.”
Question 5 shows us that companies use multiple methods for recruiting new employees—no surprise there, especially considering the apparent difficulty in finding qualified people.
More PCB fabricators responded than any other business type (Question 6), with the other industry segments pretty evenly distributed.
In Question 7 we learn that the bulk of respondents were from North America and Europe—two regions where the electronics industry has suffered in past years. Couple that with the fact that most hiring will take place in the first half of the year and it appears there is a very positive outlook for anyone working in PCB fabrication with ample opportunity for experienced people. But expansion of companies and hence our industry could be hampered by a real shortage of those same people.
The real unanswered question is “What are we going to do about this shortage?” and “How?”