The Future of Engineering: Diversity and Bridging the Age Gap

by Modis on January 26, 2017

the future of engineering bridges the diversity gapFresh ideas, unique skill sets, and diverse voices are all important ingredients for sparking future innovation and maintaining a well-rounded workforce. Without adding a new generation of highly-skilled people into the mix, however, many sectors of the tech industry are at risk of issues ranging from future labor shortages to idea stagnation and beyond.

In a field like engineering, where the median age of workers in America is 47 years old, it’s becoming even more imperative to find effective ways to bridge the age gap and attract a broader talent pool into the fold now, before the situation reaches critical mass.

So how can affected companies help course-correct to ensure a bright, stable future for the engineering field? Identifying and acknowledging the problem to begin with is a good starting point to build from.

The Future of Engineering

As a large number of today’s highly qualified engineers push closer to retirement age, finding a younger generation of engineers with the skills and experience to step up to take their place is a challenge many companies will face in the years to come. An inevitable wave of upcoming retirements among the older engineering workforce is expected to leave skill gaps, particularly in certain specialized sectors of the engineering community that are more difficult to hire qualified candidates for.

Of course, navigating the nuances of an aging specialist workforce is just one facet of a multi-tiered problem many tech-driven industries are experiencing. Growth in engineering jobs also dovetails with an ongoing tech talent shortage, as the creation of new jobs and specialized roles are outpacing incoming workers with the specific skills needed to fill those positions. At the same time, lack of diversity across many engineering disciplines squeezes out opportunities for women and minorities to fill key roles.

Without change on a fundamental level, the problem will only continue to worsen. If companies take a more proactive approach to diversifying their workforce now, it can help get the ball rolling to turn this problem around before it becomes a bigger issue down the road.

Attracting a Younger, More Diverse Generation of Engineers

Like any sweeping change, solving problems on an industry-wide level takes time, energy, and collaboration. There are things that can be done, however, to begin laying the groundwork necessary to improve diversity in the engineering trade and the broader tech industry at large. Here are a few important options to consider:

1) Target youth early. By making efforts to inspire a younger generation to become engineers at a young age, and giving them vital learning opportunities early-on, you can set the stage for future industry growth at the ground level. Offering ongoing support to youth that carries throughout their development increases the chances of them gaining the prime skills they need to enter the field and thrive in the workforce.

2) Foster learning opportunities for all. Bright minds come from many backgrounds, not just the affluent and privileged. Making technology, education, scholarships, and professional development available in underprivileged communities can help build diversify in the workforce and empower those who might not have the initial means to enter the field otherwise.

3) Promote inclusiveness at an institutional level. Anything you can do to make the workforce more welcoming to younger, more diverse job candidates is a step in the right direction, whether that’s holding diversity trainings, appointing more women and minorities to positions of power, or taking other measures to encourage a wider range of applicants for engineering positions.

4) Create partnerships and growth initiatives. Partnering with educational institutions, actively recruiting younger candidates, or creating your own growth initiatives, can also be a powerful way to train and groom the next generation of engineers.

workforce diversity

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