The Economist recently conducted an interview with DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman. The focus of the 20-minute Q&A was how do we win the war for talent?
I've been covering the manufacturing industry for 16 years and that question has been on the lips of nearly every manufacturing guru and leader. Baby boomers are large in number and threaten to take their talent, expertise and knowledge with them when they retire.
For DuPont, Kullman notes, "A large portion of the engineering workforce retired – in the U.S. we could lose 40% over next 7 years. We need to renew at a manufacturing level – operations and maintenance. We need to renew at an engineering level and we need to renew at a Ph.D. scientist level and these are all things are very important to us to create value for our customers."
We've covered this topic in the pages of Chemical Processing (see Retirement: Companies Keep Know-how in Place and Succession Planning: Avoid a Dumb Move)
We've also addressed the fact that the U.S. hasn't kept up in the education system producing the number of engineers and scientists that we need. "Only about 14% to 16% of kids who graduate from college are in science or engineering. Compare that to the EU where it's 24% or China or Korea where it's closer to 40%," says Kullman.
To get Editor In Chief Mark Rosenzweig's take on this, be sure to read U.S. Lead in Science and Engineering Erodes.
Kullman ends the interview with a great statistic that speaks to the strength of engineering as a stellar career choice. "At the depth of the global financial crisis, unemployment for engineers was 6.2% when general unemployment was over 10%. Science is important for the world and science is going to help solve a lot of problems."
We noticed that, too, when we wrote about Chemical Engineers March On.
You can watch Kullman's entire interview here. She's a smart leader with a sense of humor.
Senior Digital Editor