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SAE International Employment Study Shows Automotive OEMs Will Hire Engineers in Coming Years

WARRENDALE, Pa., July 21, 2011 - The recently released, Engineer Employment Study for Mobility Industries, 2011-2016,” from SAE International finds that U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the automotive, aerospace, and commercial vehicles industries are overly negative and fail to support the current reality that mobility industries are struggling to find good engineering talent.

“Unemployment remains stubbornly high in many developed countries following the recent recession,” notes study author Winn Hardin. “What surprised us the most about this study’s findings were the aggressive employment plans from major OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies compared to the latest BLS employment projections.”

For example, BLS predicts that engineering employment in the automotive manufacturing industry will decrease from 13,700 engineers in 2008 to 12,500 by 2018, and from 39,700 in the automotive parts manufacturing industry in 2008 to 34,800 by 2018. However, SAE International’s recent study says that the average OEM intends to hire between 100 and 500 engineers – the bulk of which will be added by the end of 2012 -- while Tier 1 and 2 suppliers intend to add up to 50 new engineers. So how does SAE International square the differences?

“BLS based their most recent projections on the 2008 U.S. Census, company surveys, and other factors such as new technologies and macroeconomic events,” Hardin said. “In 2007 and 2008, the world was staring down the barrel of one of the worst economic periods in modern history. Our study covers a shorter period than the BLS projections, and is based on more recent data collected in 2011, two years after the recession officially ended.

“Also,” Hardin continued, “we’re not saying that overall employment will increase, which would be in direct conflict with BLS data. Based on the number of retiring baby boomers and global trends towards distributing manufacturing centers nearer to population centers around the world, it’s not surprising that our findings would tell a different story than U.S. government statistics that look solely at the U.S. engineering population. Finally, we appreciate the corroboration we’ve seen lately from recent articles in the Detroit Free Press and Wall Street Journal, among others: U.S. companies are saying they’re having difficulty filling many engineer positions, even with national unemployment averages still above nine percent.”

SAE International used personal interviews and surveys with high-level human resource professionals in the automotive, aerospace, and commercial vehicle industries to complete the report. SAE International's "Engineering Employment Study for Mobility Industries 2011-2016" looks to when and where each industry intends to hire as the global economy emerges from one of the worst recessions in modern history. The study documents prospective hiring trends for each industry as well as for companies at different levels of the supply chain.

This is yet another piece of evidence that shows that the mobility sector is experiencing a recovery. With automakers reporting record sales and the certain segments of the aerospace and commercial vehicle industries also looking up, more employers are looking for engineers.

The study will prove useful to engineers especially, but also students looking to enter into the market, as it can help prospective engineering students plan their course of study. For those already in the market, it provides a useful insight into the future growth of the mobility industry.

The study, which was tabulated and reported by Hardin Business Communications, is available to all members of SAE International through EngineerXchange(SM), the professional and social networking service of SAE International. This service is free for all SAE International members. For all others who are interested, an executive summary is available on SAE International's website. Members can also access salary data in the engineering industry through EngineerXchange, another first for the mobility engineering industry. For all others who are interested, an executive summary is available at http://www.sae.org/membership/employmentstudy/ .

SAE International is a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries. SAE International's core competencies are life-long learning and voluntary consensus standards development. SAE International's charitable arm is the SAE Foundation, which supports many programs, including A World In Motion® and the Collegiate Design Series.

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