Manufacturers struggling to fill tech positions can benefit from newly available professionals looking for stability and a fresh challenge.

Manufacturing Employees Working At Desks 1080x720 1, Industry Today
Two employees working at desks in front of computer monitors in an office inside a manufacturing plant.
Source: Image via Getty Images

By: Art Zeile 

Despite talent shortages and supply chain issues, the U.S. manufacturing sector is building back fast from the global pandemic. In June, U.S. manufacturing employment returned to pre-pandemic levels; demand for tech talent in the manufacturing industry doubled in the first five months of 2022 compared to 2021, according to our analysis of job postings.  

Going forward, the success or failure of many manufacturers is going to depend on whether they can recruit and hire the tech talent needed to unlock efficiencies and drive significant growth. With the recent wave of layoffs in the tech world, manufacturers have a prime opportunity to scoop up tech talent that was previously unavailable. 

Reflecting on the state of tech hiring in the manufacturing space, and the most sought-after skillsets and tech positions, I offer advice to manufacturers looking to attract and acquire game-changing technologists right now. 

State of the Market 

Several factors are converging to drive the demand for tech talent across the manufacturing sector: 

  • The persistence of pandemic-fueled spending patterns, coupled with rising tariffs and ongoing supply chain disruption, has given added momentum to “reshoring.” 
  • Globalization has resulted in increasing demand for R&D, with manufacturers accounting for 70% of U.S. R&D expenditures. 
  • Many industry players are in the midst of a profound digital transformation, becoming obsessed with collecting and analyzing data from systems, machines and IoT devices to increase performance and quality, reduce costs, reduce dependency on labor and optimize supply chains. 

Skilled technologists are becoming hard to find and the underlying factors causing the shortage are not going anywhere. In the first five months of 2022, employers posted 2.2. million tech jobs. However, U.S. colleges awarded just 53,649 computer science degrees in 2020 and we haven’t updated the caps on H1-B visas in years.  

The intense competition makes it all the more imperative that manufacturers promote their digital transformation initiatives and, importantly, how those initiatives will change the business and the industry as a whole. 

In-Demand Specialties and Skills 

Our analysis of job postings shows that manufacturers are looking to hire engineers to help them remain competitive in a rapidly evolving industry. Software Engineers and Principal Software Engineers easily topped our list of most highly sought-after specialists in manufacturing, followed by Systems Engineer, Electrical Engineer and Embedded Systems Engineer. With manufacturers looking to collect, mine and analyze data, it’s not surprising that Data Scientists and Business Analysts also made our list of in-demand tech positions. 

When it comes to manufacturing-related tech skills, in addition to proficiency with fundamentals such as computer science and Agile methodologies, manufacturers also want technologists who have mastered Systems Engineering, Automation and C++ (which is often used in embedded systems). Technologists with knowledge of programming languages such as Python, Java and SQL are also in demand for help with data analytics, application development and database management. 

Top States and Employers 

Our analysis of where tech hiring is prevalent shows that California, Texas, Washington and Illinois are home to some of the nation’s largest manufacturing companies, all of which need a considerable amount of tech talent to help run their operations. Michigan (which is slowly reclaiming its crown as a manufacturing leader), Florida, Colorado, Massachusetts, Virginia are also experiencing rapid growth, as well as up-and-comer Arizona, which recently scored multi-billion-dollar investments from semiconductor leaders Intel and TSMC as well as electric vehicle makers Lucid, Nikola and ElectraMeccanica. 

America’s largest exporter (and top employer of tech talent January through June 2022), Boeing, continued its massive technologist hiring spree into the spring; Dell Technologies, which recently partnered with Computer Aid, Intel and Microsoft to build 25 Solar Community Hubs across three continents, came in second. General Motors, Northrup Grumman and Raytheon Technologies, who all announced considerable investments in tech hiring this year, also appear on our list. 

Takeaways and Next Steps 

The tech industry’s temporary slowdown in hiring provides manufacturers a unique opportunity to attract the tech talent they need to drive business forward. Working in manufacturing is nothing like it was a few years ago: the industry is only getting stronger, with a bright future before it. And with sweeping digital transformation projects underway, you have more to offer purpose-driven technology professionals than ever before.  

So, shout it from the rooftops! Tailor your employee value proposition and outreach efforts to target these previously unavailable technologists. Show them you provide work that matters, a chance to make a real impact, the ability to solve real-world problems and a career with stability and no shortage of new challenges. Communicating that to technologists will be what helps you take advantage of a chance that may not come around again any time soon. 

Art Zeile is the CEO of DHI Group, Inc., a publicly traded company that operates Dice, a technology career marketplace that connects employers with workers.  


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