Why are technical recruiters so hot

In great demand: electrical engineers

Electrical engineers belong to the shortage occupations - the needs of the labor market cannot be met. With the energy transition, the number of vacancies is likely to increase even further.



If there are any increases between the various engineering professions that are in demand on the job market, then electrical engineers are right at the top.

Unemployment rate at record low

For years, your unemployment rate has been almost consistently at a level that equates to full employment, i.e. below two percent. Even at the end of 2009, at the worst time of the crisis, the unemployment rate was only 2.7 percent. According to the Federal Employment Agency (BA), electrical engineers had the lowest unemployment rate of all engineering groups last year.

No new generation of electrical engineers to be expected

Even more: According to the BA in its 2010 report published in May, the electrical engineers were among the few academics for whom the number of employees subject to social security contributions had been declining for a long time: between 2000 and 2010, the statistics recorded a decline of more than a tenth. At the same time, according to the BA, the number of electrical engineering students, at 68,000 in 2009, is lower than it has been for ten years. This year - according to the VDE (Verband der Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik e.V.) - there are almost 9,000 electrical and information technology graduates compared to a need of 14,000 to 16,000 electrical engineers.

Age and origin are irrelevant

Anyone who describes the job market prospects for electrical engineers as good should be accused of understatement. "Recruiters are becoming more and more flexible with candidates, for example with regard to age, origin and, in some cases, money. In addition to the EU labor market, they are also considering countries such as India or Australia," says Michael Schanz, head of the VDE- Committee on Profession, Society and Technology. "Excessive pay cannot, however, be a permanent solution, as this leads to distortions in the salary structure - if, for example, a poached expert earns more than his new group leader."

Good salary prospects for engineers

According to Ingenieurkarriere.de, the career portal of VDI Nachrichten, electrical engineers start their careers as clerks with an annual salary of around 48,000 euros. As a project manager you come to around 64,000 euros, as a team leader to 72,000 euros. The wage index database of the Institute for Economic and Social Sciences (WSI) of the Hans Böckler Foundation places the median monthly income of an electrical engineer at EUR 4600, so half of the engineers earn more than this amount. According to the WSI, career starters start at 3600 euros, which is around seven percent above the average for all engineering professions. With two to five years of professional experience, they come to around 4600 euros.

Lack of applicants in power electronics

Companies have a current need for electrical engineers, especially in the fields of embedded systems and power electronics. Embedded systems - computers that control, regulate or monitor a system - are found in increasing numbers in vehicles, medical devices and aircraft, but also in systems and machines.

Automotive industry is increasingly looking

Some people jokingly refer to cars as rolling laptops because of their large number of microprocessors, so it is not surprising that the automotive industry - especially on the part of suppliers and engineering service providers - has a particularly high demand for electrical engineers. Due to the energy transition and electromobility, there is also a high demand for specialists in power electronics and sensor technology.

"This is not about bits and bytes, but actually about electronics for analog signals or topics such as the signal-to-noise ratio and interference immunity," explains Schanz. "Since many electrical engineers have specialized in booming digital technology over the past ten to fifteen years, analog electronics have been neglected." The chances of applicants who specialize in this area are correspondingly good.

The need for electrical engineers is increasing

In view of these technological megatrends that have reached all industrialized and emerging countries, many companies assume that their need for electrical engineers will continue to grow. This is also the case with the German electrical industry: The ZVEI (Central Association of the Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association) declared at the beginning of June 2011 that the industry expected sales to continue to rise in the coming year, some companies even by more than ten percent.

There are simply too few

The proportion of electrical engineers in this branch has naturally been over 60 percent of all engineers employed there for years. And according to the engineer survey published by the ZVEI in December 2010, many companies want to hire even more electrical engineers by 2012 than they did last year. "There are simply too few," concludes Sonja Dulitz, a consultant in the Research, Education and Manufacturing Technology department at the ZVEI. "And the situation will worsen between 2015 and 2020, when many of the electrical engineers employed will retire due to old age."

Unsolicited applicants have a high chance of success

Michael Schanz from the VDE makes it clear, however, that the situation on the job market today is still not such that companies take everyone: "The applicant must be right in terms of qualifications and personal appearance." However, in many companies there are vacancies, so that you have great opportunities with unsolicited applications.

Better market conditions for older workers

And prospects have also improved for older employees. "A decade ago HR departments could not afford to invite an electrical engineer over the age of 50 to an interview, today qualification and personality count," says Schanz. This is also reflected in the unemployment statistics, which for electrical engineers are now quite evenly distributed across the age groups.

Large companies prefer younger candidates

But: "If a large company has the choice to hire two 27-year-old engineers for almost the same personnel costs as a single 60-year-old, the decision is made in favor of the young ones," says Schanz. "The learning curve that young engineers inevitably have to go through , it costs money, but it can be more easily compensated in a large company. " Decision-makers in small companies may think very differently because they cannot easily compensate for mistakes or weaknesses in employees due to the thinner staff.

(Michael Vogel, September 2011 / Image: Artmann Witte)