by Jeff Gilbert
WWJ AutoBeat Reporter
Those using this year’s SAE World Congress to hunt for a new job are finding the prospects improved significantly from previous years.
“We have more than enough opportunities, and not enough candidates right now,” said Jeremy Smith, VP of the Clarkston based recruiting firm Delta Staffing.
Smith was one of dozen’s of recruiters giving instant at the SAE job fair. Despite his optimism, some of those who are out of work remain wary.
“I’m not young. I’m old. It’s harder,” said 61 year old Dan Bennett, who’s been job hunting for the past six months. “I don’t think I’ve lost anything yet. But, it’s the impressions that I have to leave with people that will get (me) the job.”
While Bennett hasn’t had any offers, he is getting more interviews, and feel’s he’s coming closer to landing a position. Recruiter Jeremy Smith says there are opportunities for veteran workers, and expects this also to be a better year for new college graduates.
“We have a lot of customers right now, who are looking for people right out of school. Yes. That’s a very real opportunity for a lot of folks.”
With the changing economy, the SAE World Congress recently scaled back from four days to three. This year they decided to focus on green technology. Many displays highlighted electric vehicles, and conference goers were given an opportunity to drive EVs.
“It’s like a luxury car,” said Bill Thomas after driving the Chevrolet Volt. “It was quiet. A wonderful drive.”
Despite the green nature of the meeting, the keynote speaker told the engineers that the auto industry has to do more to focus on fuel economy, and worry less about coming up with the latest feature.
“Why have groups focused on heated mirrors, heated seats, different new colors,” said technology industry veteran Ray Lane. “Those are not the priorities of the industry, and they will not be the priorities of the next generation of buyers coming up in the next ten years.”
Lane is non executive chairman of Hewlett Packard, and is a managing partner with the investment firm backing Fisker, a maker of extended range electric vehicles. He says if car companies don’t increase their production of fuel efficient vehicles, they will not like the consequences.
“If we don’t do this, I think we’ll face a mandated, government-driven solution through taxation, technology mandates or fuel rationing.”
Follow Jeff Gilbert on Twitter @jefferygilbert