American manufacturers are now posting more jobs for software developers and engineers than production workers, one sign that the products companies make are increasingly driven by computer skills and programming, according to a Burning Glass Technologies Research Brief called “Manufacturing Shift: Software Jobs Now Outpace Production” released on Monday. Software developer posts are now second only to sales positions regarding the total number of jobs posted. There are also more jobs posted for software developers and engineers than there are for production workers or mechanical engineers – another indication of a disruptive shift in this industry sector.

For example, most of the vital functions in cars are now computer-controlled and more dependent on software. In 2016, the auto industry posted twice as many positions for Software Developers as for Mechanical Engineers. As recently as 2012, postings were evenly distributed between the two jobs. Viewed another way, auto manufacturers’ demand for Software Developers has grown more than six-fold over demand for Mechanical Engineers over the past five years.

The job titles at an automotive industry disruptor like Tesla are the same as those found at traditional car manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), but the top skills associated with these jobs are quite different between disruptor and traditional. Research by Burning Glass Technologies shows interesting differences. The skills vary in importance at the two types of employers, and Tesla looks for certain skills (including CATIA, Mechanical Design, and 3D Modeling / Design) that don’t appear on the skills list at the old-line OEMs.

Mechanical Engineers compared between traditional and disrupter companies

This is your future. Innovators such as Tesla lead the charge, but the whole industry is changing dramatically, and finding the right talent to keep pace is increasingly difficult.  According to PWC’s report on 2017 Automotive Trends, “new features going into cars require the expertise of software engineers, who by and large prefer the ostensibly more dynamic work environments of Silicon Valley startups to those of the automotive industry.”

Labor market data can help the automotive industry determine the organization’s skills gaps against the current supply and demand of candidates to hire with those skills both for today and, more importantly, in the future. External data also helps identify the types of skill sets already present within the organization, and provides insight on where to find the skills that need development for future workforce needs.  Companies that suspect employee skill gaps while acknowledging transitions in the industry have the opportunity to gain insight from the data and create a plan to move forward.

Changing market dynamics due to technology is just one of several examples of how companies can inform business decisions by utilizing external labor market data.

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