Engineering jobs in West Michigan have grown nearly 29% since 2010, eclipsing national trends (7.7% growth) and increasing the number of high skill, high wage jobs in the region. The ability to meet this demand keeps global companies such as Eaton and Bissell in the area, but it isn’t always easy.
This growth has inspired The Right Place Inc. (an economic development organization in Grant Rapids, Michigan) to promote an understanding of local engineering sectors. In fact, the Right Place Inc. recently used EMSI data to conduct an analysis of regional engineering job growth, published last weekend in a local business journal:
In total, West Michigan contains nearly 15,000 people in engineering jobs, with more than 11,500 of those positions concentrated in the Grand Rapids metropolitan area alone, according to Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) data provided by The Right Place Inc.
EMSI included Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola and Ottawa counties in its West Michigan data. . .
Out of the numerous categories of engineers, those associated with the manufacturing sector tended to grow at higher rates in West Michigan compared to engineers in other industries such as biomedicine and agriculture, according to the EMSI data.
From 2010 to 2015, the number of materials engineering jobs increased 37 percent while industrial engineering positions spiked 36 percent.
Although local universities report that engineering degrees increase each year—a point that EMSI’s program completion data verifies for Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids—it can be difficult to keep grads in the area because they can earn higher wages elsewhere:
While the number of engineering jobs in West Michigan has grown faster than the national average, median earnings for engineers in the area have not. West Michigan engineers earn a median hourly income of $30.88 compared to a national median hourly income of $36.03, according to the EMSI data.
To keep engineering talent in the region once they’re at a company, manufacturers have relied, in part, on continued internal training programs.
Nearby companies hire Michigan grads and train them on the job, which makes local recruitment easier and allows grads to increase their earning potential and knowledge of specialized industries.
The article also summarizes how local universities are responding to high regional demand for engineers by increasing enrollments and training students to possess skills that local employers want—such as leadership and communication skills and the ability to thrive in a global work environment.