Timing is everything. Five years ago this month, I drafted an article for IEEE Spectrum on the need for thousands of new engineers in the U.S. auto industry, as many of its white-collar employees approached retirement.
Then the industry went off a cliff. Years of mismanagement and the severe impact of the Great Recession led to the 2009 bankruptcy and federally backed restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler. The article never ran.
Yet the main point remains valid: More than one in three U.S. auto-industry engineers in 2008 were baby boomers, and during the economic crisis, many of those engineers retired early. Meanwhile, the U.S. industry recovered and resumed hiring, and it hasn’t stopped.