It's becoming a growing concern that there are not enough students pursuing studies and careers in engineering. Manufacturers, especially, are increasingly feeling the pinch that comes from not enough skilled engineers emerging into the work force to replace baby boomers who are starting to retire.
Massachusetts, especially Boston, is a center for developing engineers. The state overall enjoys a fairly high 40% of students from public schools who pursue college as having interest in STEM fields. Other areas of New England, especially more rural areas, show a dramatic drop off in STEM interest. Overall, it could be that a misperception of what sorts of jobs are available in the manufacturing sector might be impacting what students foresee as opportunities for after they graduate. As many good paying engineering jobs exist in those industries, more can be done to raise awareness of this fact with students.
Efforts are ongoing to grow the perceptions of opportunities out there so that students can better envision futures in a wide variety of STEM careers. Among those are the Massachusetts Department of Education's STEM Pipeline Fund for in support of college students and the annual Massachusetts STEM Summit (http://www.mass-stem-summit.org/), bringing together leaders form education - students and teachers, government, and business to strategize growing the number of students engaged in STEM studies.
There are more interesting statistics and observations about all of this at this Boston.com op-ed post written by Kepware Technologies president, Brett Austin: Why the engineering skills gap should worry you.
Advanced Technology Services, Inc., a business that works to assist manufacturing companies in improving their processes, lined up interviews with manufacturing industry senior executives to identify concerns in the field. One of the primary issues cited was a lack of sufficient numbers of skilled workers rising into the workforce.