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Will Covid put an end to the engineering boom?

The number of job ads for engineers has reached an all-time low. Electrical engineering has been especially hard hit since the start of the year.

The virus has completely changed the economy and our social life – in some cases, with a drastic effect on demand for professionals. Job profiles are affected by the pandemic almost everywhere, as was evidenced by the DEKRA 2021 German Job Market Report. Since 2008, this report has shown which professionals are most in demand and in which fields of activity there is a specific need from employers.

This time round, electronics technicians in trade and industry are at the top of all the professions. Sales professionals are currently also not a major problem for recruiting departments. Here, employers especially need staff for customer support and consulting. However, certain sales professions which were often well at the forefront in the past have dropped in the rankings. This is not really surprising since trade fairs and other events are held online, if at all. Staff turnover in sales is also likely lower than usual at present. As a result, the proportion of sales professions in the overall sample is at its lowest point (9.3 percent). But if you are looking for a job in sales, you still have a lot of choice.

Professionals wanted for complex IT landscapes

One in every ten offers was aimed at IT professionals. The last time the share of job ads in this area was this high was in 2018. There is continuing demand in the area of software development (28 percent), even if this is currently “only” in fifth place. System administrators have risen to 11th place (2020: 18th). Home offices and the associated increase in IT system support certainly plays a role here.

End of the engineering boom?

Very noticeable is the all-time low for engineering jobs. Only one in twenty ads was aimed at job seekers with the corresponding degree. In this regard, architects and civil engineers clearly led the race, where one in every three engineering jobs went to them (2020: 24.0 percent). This was followed by electrical engineering and mechanical and automotive engineering, which lagged well behind (20.8 and 13.7 percent respectively). Neither of these professions have ever been so low in the list before (places 23 and 33).

The latest Hays Skills Index also sees lower demand for development engineers in mechanical engineering, for hardware, electrical engineering and drive technology in Germany. On the other hand, quality and production engineers are among the winners. The decline is due to the enormous restructuring in the automotive industry and the generally subdued demand for mechanical engineering and electrical engineering products.

But managers are still in a privileged position. According to DEKRA, around one in every ten job ads is aimed at them (10.3 percent). About one in every five management jobs is a project management position (22.1 percent). Job seekers looking to manage teams now also have a better chance than in the previous five years (17.8 percent).

VDMA worries about junior engineers

However, it seems that the era of engineers is not quite over in the country of engineers. While the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) admits that there is a cyclical flattening in demand for engineers, it still believes mid to long-term career prospects are good. But the association is worried about the drop in numbers of new students in the areas of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science during the pandemic. In mechanical engineering, the number of freshmen fell by 9.6 percent, while there were 14.5 percent fewer students taking up electrical engineering, according to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. Computer science—where the number of students has increased steadily over the past years—saw a 4.8 percent decline, the first such fall since 2012

This is probably also pandemic-related. Traditionally, there are usually a high number of foreign students in engineering—in the 2019/2020 winter semester this was 28 percent. But they are currently postponing or canceling their plans to study in Germany.

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