Unfilled Engineering Jobs Cost Businesses

Business leaders may need to revisit how they approach hiring—especially when it comes to contingent talent helping them fill the skills gap left by retiring or other professionals. Unfilled positions are costing the U.S. economy a staggering $1.08 trillion per month, reported Fiverr Pro and the economists at Lightcast. And while just one open role costs businesses, on average, nearly $25,000 a month in output, open positions in engineering cost more, more than $37,000 a month per open role, the research said.

Open roles for engineers and technicians contribute $49 billion in economic cost per month across nearly 1 million open roles. “Many companies have multiple postings of roles critical to their output. Unfilled jobs cost companies real money; there should be a much higher sense of urgency than many companies seem to have,” said Ron Hetrick, senior labor economist at Lightcast in a press release.

“The 2023 Kelly Global Re:work Report” offered some insight about how firms look at filling open positions. Retention is not a front-burner issue for engineering firms, for example, but recruitment remains a challenge. Recognizing the situation, 55 percent of engineering leadership said they were looking to recruit more contingent talent.



Fiverr Pro is part of Fiverr. Their business is to allow professionals in poorer countries to work in the West for very low amounts of money.

I dealt with Fiverr the parent company a few years ago. The site sourced someone in Russia for a job. That person was completely unreputable.

Fiverr has had a lot of problems with unreputable people being sourced. It has not stopped Fiverr at all.

In this instance truly consider the source.

We are not missing $1 tr per month in GDP. That would suck the entire life out of the global economy.

There are lots of ways to deal with this problem. Temp agencies have professionals available in many areas. (I’m a chemist. I temped with Kelly Scientific for a year. Manpower also has temp professionals.)

Plenty work as contract workers. Job shops can provide people on demand.

You can also hire students or recent graduates. They can do the job with adequate supervision.

Those who walk on water are hard to find but often the job can be redefined to use available takent.

As posted a week or two ago, Milton Friedman would say that, as other countries virtually give away education, including engineering education, USian companies should outsource engineering to China, India, wherever engineers are cheap.

This list, from 2016, is the most disturbing. Not only do both China and India produce more trained engineers than Shiny-land, but so does Russia. Shiny-land trains barely more engineers than Iran.

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There won’t be a big need for engineers. Ai is coming for all the white collar jobs.

The Encroachment of AI
The bad news concerns artificial intelligence and its impact on the engineering profession. AI, in one form or another, has become integral in nearly every industry. It can be found in the medical, automotive, manufacturing, retail, construction, and defense industries and even in the pocket of most people who carry smartphones. Big tech has also come together to develop AI that can benefit society. These include Google, Microsoft, Apple, Meta, Amazon and IBM, to name a few. With the recent advances in AI, some engineers fear their jobs will be run via automated systems.

Best to invest your money into companies that will be using AI. It should be a real boost to margins and earnings.



Aside from TSLA (sorry, I’m saturated on discussion on that one), which companies are you investing in for AI? Which are highest conviction?


The layoffs cited in the article were sloppily discussed. Of course, Amazon laid off people after Christmas last year. Happens to seasonal workers all the time. That does not tie into AI.

The article gave no technical insight into why engineers on any project would be sidelined. I need a principle in engineering that the machine AI can do where a job would be lost. It can be a business insight.

But the problem is not a lack of capacity in engineering schools. It’s our young people who view engineering as a difficult program. Often takes more than four years.

Students of today are spoiled and prefer something easier.

Certainly in the sciences in graduate school, most students get paid a stipend and pay little or no fees. Degrees are essentially free if you have the credentials to get admitted and are willing to spend the time.

Engineering could be done that way too. But I would be surprised to see enrollment doubled by such a program.

My highest conviction is NVDA then I am betting on Crwd, SMCI, Amzn, Meta, Goog, AMD, Snow, DDOG. My thoughts are that NVDA Crwd, SMCI AMZN Meta GOOG and AMD will show up in 2024 really strong and then Snow, DDOG will get going really strong in 2025.



I do not know Leap but if I was an Engineer, Lawyer, or Accountant I would be looking over my shoulder.


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What is the USian culture of the last 40 years telling college students? The big money is in financial manipulation, or playing football, not productive work, like engineering. What does the tax code tell college students? You pay lower taxes if you make money by financial manipulation, rather than productive work, like engineering. What has been the economic narrative for the US the last 40 years? “Service economy” ie, financial manipulation, not productive work. What do college students see happening in the job market: “jobs” that do productive work are off-shored. Only the “service” jobs stay in the US. What sort of people usually rise to the top of USian corporations? Financial manipulators, not engineers.



That statement makes me LOL!

There will always be a need for engineers!

Currently registered professional engineers put their names to certify that their designs & analysis are safe by law. Thus they take legal responsibility for their engineering work. How would AI take legal responsibility for its engineering work?

I would not trust AI to do the design & analysis of bridges, skyscrapers, power plants, chemical plants, military/commercial aircraft and so on without full engineering guidance, oversight and responsibility.

Federal, state and local laws would need to be revised to allow AI to do any design & analysis without full engineering guidance, oversight and responsibility.

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Of course there will always be a need for a few engineers but the majority of the work will be done by AI so that is why I said a big need. Of course everyone that has those jobs think they are the most important in the world but in reality if business can squeeze more profits out of the company they will cut and cut and cut.


I disagree with your opinion.

Start early" is good advice to anyone who wants to lead a company as a CEO. A good education is a foundation, and then relevant and substantial work experiences pave the path to a successful journey. Engineering is the most common undergraduate degree among CEOs. Surveys have found that nearly 45 percent of Fortune 500 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) have majored in engineering and business administration. Approximately one-third of CEOs majored in engineering and only 11% graduated from business school. Engineering degrees address diverse areas like computer, electrical, chemical, mechanical, civil graduates can enter various industries.

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Harvard Business Review, the management bible, released its annual ranking Monday of the top-performing CEOs around the globe. It found that engineering degrees are actually slightly more prevalent among these top corner office occupants than the finance- and strategy-focused MBA, a trend that could reflect strong performance among tech-driven CEOs but also a possible openness to engineering backgrounds among a wider range of companies.

Thirty-four of the top 100 CEOs in 2018, according to the HBR report, had an engineering degree, compared with 32 who had an MBA. Eight of the top CEOs had both degrees. In 2017, 29 CEOs had MBAs and 32 had engineering degrees, the first time that there were fewer MBAs than engineers since 2014, when it began tracking the degree question.


I don’t disagree with you Jaagu I am just commenting on how this all is going to go. I saw it in the Telecommunications industry. Nortel had some great engineers then they gradually had people with high school educations come in and they trained them in some of the jobs. The engineers became lead engineers with a bunch of trainees running around that were called engineers.

AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink all have some educated engineers but the majority are just clerks that were trained on the job. Why? because it was a lot cheaper than higher an educated engineer and they could perform the job at an adequate level.

I am all for education but I just see how this is going to work out. If business’s can run their business with fewer employees then AI is going to do the rest.


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That pretty much applies to every field of endeavor, including financial manipulation. Indeed, the phish artists out there have started exploring all the ways they can use AI to pretend they are something or someone else.

The real issues are going to be broader, IMO. I wrote about them when the boards were the old style, and I have not changed my mind about the necessary result for our socioeconomics.

We are going to have to confront our failed definitions of money, and we are going to wind up with a UBI.

That is in the book, and the book is now available. Finally. Published it myself. Now, I wander back here.

The climate chaos threads seem to have dissipated. I don’t see them, at any rate. There seems to be some attention given to the board’s character, and I see that some of my old friends are still around.

Given what Elon is doing to XTwitter, and the ability to put more information into the posts, I may spend more time here in 2024.

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Re: What is US culture telling students.

Officials are well aware of the need for STEM students and strongly encourages them.

Factors affecting choices of majors are far more subtle. Fame, fortune, image, etc may well be part of it.

Who controls the culture you describe? Not the US government. Does Canada have a better system? Please tell us more.

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Every month in some area of medicine at least one new drug enters the market. There is a huge hype. People sign up. Huge theories abound as to why the miracle drug works so well with no side effects.

Life is not that simple. Life is not that way.

After watching drugs get hyped and disappear in shame that is all I think will happen with AI.

Impossible? Not at all.

Y2K came and went. The Russian nuclear attack discussed in the WSJ never happened. The checks in the mail did not bounce. No banks went under. Did we need the bankrupt dot coms? Could Pet.com have stayed around in its original articulation?

AI is something over 80% hype.

And then there is how much craziness is coming out of the people who have produced it and theorized over it. Full of it.


You are confusing engineers with technicians. Engineers have engineering degrees from colleges. They are the ones that design the systems in the first place so that technicians can operate the systems.

Engineers are the ones that always perform the design/analysis of systems, structures, and components to operate efficiently and safely - not technicians.

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