Talent Matters Most Again

Important and unexpected article from Crain’s Detroit Business on Michigan’s shortage of automotive engineers. That’s right, shortage! Conventional wisdom is that we have a big competitive advantage in engineers. The story is we have a surplus, the country has a shortage. Apparently not. Or at least not in engineers with skills in electric vehicles engineering. Supposedly the growth engine of the Michigan economy.

The story is entitled:  Electric-drive powertrain suppliers face shortage of engineering talent. It is the same basic story we have been writing about for years. Jobs available, not enough folks with the right skills to fill them. Coming out of the Great Recession this is going to be a reality in lots of industries. The post recession jobs will be increasingly knowledege-based. We don’t have enough folks with competitive skills, so there will be more jobs available than people with the skills to fill them.

The Crain’s story ends with the predictable bottom line: can’t find talent here, companies will go elsewhere. As they write:  Oliver Hazimeh, head of the e-mobility practice at consultant Waltham, Mass.-based PRTM, says Detroit-area suppliers and automakers face a challenge in persuading engineers to relocate. They may have to consider satellite engineering centers in places like Silicon Valley, he says:”The solution may be to go where the resources are.”

More evidence that in a knowledge-based economy it is talent that is the asset that matters most. It is both the most important asset and also the one in the shortest supply. So increasingly enterprises will move to where the talent is, not workers to the jobs. And the places they will move to our places like Silicon Valley – talent rich – not places with low taxes and weak unions that we are warned about constantly. If it can happen in an industry where we are dominant like autos, believe me it can happen in any industry.

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