Closing the Engineering Talent Shortage Through Mentorship and Volunteering


From the U.S. to Indonesia, employers are struggling to fill a growing dearth in qualified engineers and other technical professionals.

To combat the shortage, tech companies such as Bosch and IBM are spearheading apprenticeship programs to train applicants, who do not have college degrees, for entry-level positions.

Cyber Security Talent Shortage

One field currently suffering from the lack of talent is cyber security. In the U.S., half a million cyber security job openings go unfilled due to a scarcity of qualified college graduates. In a landscape where data privacy is increasingly under attack, the absence of cyber security experts is particularly alarming.  Last year, employers had less than four million of these experts than needed, according to a recent study from nonprofit (ISC)².

According to Haley Stevens, chair of the House Research and Technology in the U.S., both the lack of diversity in the field and the lack of adequate computer science curriculums in many high schools are contributing to the shortfall.

“The cyber security field as a whole lacks diversity, even more so than many other STEM fields,” she said. “The math is simple: Last year, women accounted for only 20 percent of the global cyber security workforce.”

Addressing the Gap

During a hearing in March 2019, members of the U.S. House Science Committee stressed the need for more qualified domestic talent and a diverse workforce. In November, the committee subsequently passed the Rural STEM Education Act to bolster STEM in rural school districts.

This gap in talent is also affecting the global job market. In Ireland, where a quarter of companies are having trouble finding qualified candidates, employers are scrambling to hire engineers. Although Indonesia is home to five tech startups that are each worth more than an estimated $1 billion USD, the country generates a mere 278 engineers for every million citizens annually. Indonesia startups are now looking to attract foreign workers to fill open positions. If the draft omnibus law on job creation is passed, a startup will not need to have its plans to hire foreign workers approved by the central government.

In order to create a more diverse workforce, companies can use volunteerism and mentoring programs.

Volunteerism and Mentorship

Encouraging employees to volunteer is one way to keep them engaged. 

For Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (Girl Day), which is on 20 February this year, Collins Aerospace Systems will inspire 2,300 girls to pursue interest in STEM by hosting 55 different events around the world. This event will have more than one thousand employees volunteering as mentors.

At the U.S.-based Reinventing Geospatial, Inc., a leading C5I innovator and geospatial expert in national security, over two-thirds of workers are involved in community outreach programs. For the last three years, employees volunteered at a local homeless shelter teaching computer literacy to residents in order to help them find jobs.

“We believe in making community activism an integral part of our business culture, and that by proactively leading and encouraging others to be active members of the community, we multiply our potential and actual impact across our corporate social responsibility work,” CEO Stephen Gillotte told WashingtonExec.

JetBlue Airways takes a different approach by letting employees choose volunteer paths that match their own interests. The company also offers specific volunteer roles—from building playgrounds and homes to other humanitarian causes.

The program has been enormously successful. In November, employees logged a million volunteer hours. Icema Gibbs, JetBlue’s Director of CSR, has noticed that the company’s commitment to volunteerism has helped with talent acquisition. Potential employees are reaching out to the company because of their interest in JetBlue’s community efforts.

Even companies seemingly further removed from STEM fields are helping to nurture the next generation of engineering professionals by encouraging their employees to participate in mentorship programs. PepsiCo teamed with a community college in New Jersey to encourage more female students to pursue STEM careers and increase their overall interest in the fields. Employee mentors received training through the “Million Women Mentors,” a mentorship initiative aiming to open up the possibilities of STEM careers and leadership positions to both young girls and women.

Learn about the Benefits of Employee Volunteerism

Are you interested in a STEM program that supports economically disadvantaged students and integrates employee volunteerism? TryEngineering Together is a safe, innovative eMentoring platform that delivers life-changing experiences for children, employees, and companies. Attend a webinar hosted by IEEE TryEngineering Together partner, Cricket Media, to hear directly from Northrop Grumman and Schneider Electric and learn about their eMentoring experiences.

Date: Thursday, 20 February 2020
Time: 1:30 PM ET/10:30 AM PT

Register now!


(17 February 2020). 2,300 students across 55 locations: Collins Aerospace goes big with ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.’ Yahoo!Finance.

Dani, Shotaro and Damayanti, Ismi. (14 February 2020). Indonesia to ease foreign hiring by startups faced with talent shortage. Nikkei Asian Review.

Knutson, Ted. (11 February 2020). Cybersecurity Jobs Going Begging As College Computer Science Grads Lack Skills/Experience Says House Leader. Forbes.

Redmond, Kimberly. (11 February 2020). BCC, PepsiCo Partner Up For Mentor Program. Patch.

Sawers, Paul. (11 February 2020). AI, automation, and the cybersecurity skills gap. Venture Beat.

Taylor, Charlie. (3 February 2020). Ireland facing its worst talent shortage in decade, study finds. The Irish Time.

Shah, Agam. (30 January 2020). Seeking Tech Talent, Companies Kickstart Apprenticeship Programs. The Wall Street Journal. 

Hessekiel, David. (20 January 2020). A Million Ways JetBlue Leverages Employee Engagement For Good. Forbes.

AIP. (26 November 2019). Science Committee Adds Rural STEM Education to Broadening Participation Push. American Institute of Physics.

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