Finding trained employees continues to be a challenge, especially for STEM-focused industries. But it can also be an opportunity for college students who will soon be looking to launch their careers. The director of career services at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology says, “recruiting is definitely robust this year,” as the school prepares to host a career fair today with a record number of companies.
“There’s a lot of things happening to drive that. STEM is booming,” said Rose-Hulman Director of Career Services Scott Tieken in an interview with Inside INdiana Business. “We have a lot of emerging technology that’s happening in the marketplace. We’re also filling the supply chain demands that have come about because of COVID-19.”
LISTEN: Tieken further explains what recruiters are looking for…and how Rose-Hulman is doing what it can to prepare students for those careers.
The school says the fair has attracted 283 companies from across the country, including 70 companies that are recruiting at Rose-Hulman for the first time.
RHIT says this exceeds the previous record 249 companies that attended Rose-Hulman fall event in 2019, before the pandemic impacted the economy and company hiring demands.
“We’re back to seeing the levels of interest from employers that we had experienced before the pandemic,” said Tieken.
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s most recent annual employer survey found that 85% of employers say that meeting their talent needs is a challenge. The lack of qualified applicants for open positions was noted by 72% of respondents. Meanwhile, 60% of employers elected to leave jobs open in the prior year given the shortage of qualified workers. All those were the highest numbers seen in recent years.
“Companies large and small are seeking our graduates to fill current and expected positions due to improved economic conditions, ongoing workforce job movements, and retirements,” said Tieken.
Tieken says as different sectors examine bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., such as semiconductor manufacturing, it brings the potential for more tech jobs that need to be filled.
“And then we also have a lot of technologies being onshored again here in the U.S. So those are exciting opportunities for our students with a great employer turnout,” said Tieken.
The fair includes the biggest names in Indiana’s vast manufacturing and life sciences sectors, including Eli Lilly, Cook Medical, Cummins, and Subaru of Indiana Automotive. However, it also attracts a ‘who’s who’ of other national companies that are looking for talent, including Collins Aerospace, General Motors, Honeywell and Northrup Grumman.
With so many career choices, and aggressive recruiting, Tieken says there is still a need to keep Indiana-trained talent in the Hoosier State.
“There’s also a big push here to how do we partner with our employers in Indiana, retain that talent and make sure that they’re staying here, and they are representing our state,” said Tieken. “We have great partnerships in the state that help us do that. And so just making sure students are aware of all the amenities.”
Tieken says starting salaries for Rose-Hulman graduates have surged. He says the average starting salary for new graduates climbed from $76,000 in 2021 to $81,000 in 2022.
“Significant growth in the salary market…and we had us multiple students in six-digit territory, some of them $150,000+, and some of those opportunities are right here in the Midwest,” said Tieken.
But it is not only about salaries. Tieken says there has been a generational shift towards finding an employer where the graduate can make a difference.
“The focus is on what type of culture does the company have? What type of environment am I going to be walking into? Are they involved in local community? Do they have sustainability efforts,” said Tieken.
Tieken says with such high demand, not only are employers interviewing potential workers, but the soon-to-be graduates are interviewing the employer and seeking the right fit.
The school’s Fall Career Fair takes place Wednesday at Rose-Hulman’s Sports and Recreation Center. But it is not open to the general public, only students and alumni.