Engineers and chemical engineers in the US are being urged to prepare for a shortage of skilled workers as they grapple with an aging workforce.
A study released on Tuesday by the Institute for Human Resource Management (IHMM) said that while the federal government could still hire up to 1.6 million additional chemists and engineers over the next decade, the workforce in the U.S. was already shrinking, as the country’s workforce has steadily aged over the past half-century.
In a report titled The Future of Chemists and Engineers in the Workplace, IHMM senior director of research, Brian McBride, said that the US has already surpassed Canada and Germany in the number of chemists it needs.
As a result, he said, it is important that employers know they will have to hire new chemists to meet growing demand in the next few years.
“The next challenge will be to find enough chemists, engineers and scientists to meet the demand for chemical and biological engineering,” McBride said.
“And the question is, are we ready?
And we have no idea.”
McBride’s findings echo similar research conducted in the past by the Society of Engineering Mechanics, a professional society that tracks industry trends in the field.
“With the growth of the workforce, there are going to be fewer chemists who can do the jobs that were originally done by chemists,” said Paul Stokes, president of the Society, which is composed of engineers, chemists or physicists.
“This is going to have an effect on the supply of engineers and chemists.
The next wave is going out of the field, and there will be fewer people in the pipeline for these jobs.”
The study, which was based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey and the Bureau, found that the number and age of chemist and engineer positions in the United States are falling.
The average age of a chemical engineering job has been rising for decades, with the oldest jobs, such as chemical engineers, being phased out.
In 2015, the Bureau’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the proportion of chem and engineering workers in the labor force dropped to its lowest point in 20 years, at just under 1.3 percent of the total labor force.
That’s a sharp drop from more than 3 percent in 2000.
“I have been working with the chemists for a long time, and they are very happy with what they have done,” said Michael Smith, the vice president of operations and public relations for the American Chemistry Council.
“They are very proud of the work that they do and I think it will continue.”
Smith said the chemical engineering industry is still a relatively young industry that has a lot of work to do to meet changing technological needs.
“It’s a very diverse industry that is going through a very rapid change,” he said.
“And we need all of our chemists that we can find to stay up and continue to work.”