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Last week, the leaders of our newly established Workforce Committee held a visioning session to further lay the groundwork for our workforce summit scheduled for late April here in Washington. The Summit, organized by ACEC, ASCE, and APWA is an extension of our Engineering & Public Works Roadshow and is intended to organize and unify what have up to now been myriad disconnected efforts to tackle the workforce issue by our various colleague organizations representing the interests of the engineering industry in Washington. Across our industry, firms struggle to attract and retain well-qualified employees and are implementing policies and practices designed to mitigate those struggles. There are many valuable voices on this issue, and we will all be better served by coordinating our efforts under a united front.

For ACEC’s part, in addition to the Engineering & Public Works Roadshow and the Summit, we are investing significant resources – both human and financial – toward ensuring our industry’s future workforce:

  • Our job board is continuously updated with hundreds of opportunities for professionals entering the workforce or looking for new roles. There are opportunities for employees at our member firms to engage at every level.
  • We recently launched the pilot for ACEConnects, a mentoring program sponsored by the ACEC College of Fellows and the Committee of Past Chairs.
  • We will graduate 24 mid-career professionals from Class 8 of Pathways to Executive Leadership during our Annual Convention and Legislative Summit in May.
  • In April, 29 firm leaders will graduate from the 28th class of the Senior Executives Institute, joining over 600 other alumni from our capstone leadership program.
  • We also have more than $800,000 in scholarships available to engineering students. When a talented high school junior or senior tells their guidance counselor that they want to go to college but can’t afford it, or that they are afraid of being saddled with crushing student debt, we want that counselor to have an answer.

That said, the workforce challenge is a long game. That’s why we need to capture imaginations early, and spotlight how rewarding engineering can be. A kindergartener who loves Numberblocks, a seventh grader getting her first exposure to prealgebra and seeing magic in a new language of numbers and letters – THAT is when we have to begin making the case for engineering. Sunday kicked off Engineers Week, which for many young people serves as their first exposure to engineering. This year’s theme of “Welcome to the Future” is about celebrating today’s achievements and showcasing the opportunities available to students who pursue engineering as a career. If we wait until these kids are applying to college – or worse, applying for jobs – we’ve waited too long. This week is not just about welcoming the future. It’s about our seizing the opportunity to shape it.

Speaking of shaping the future: judging took place over the weekend for the Engineering Excellence Awards, which will be held in May during our Annual Convention and Legislative Summit. The projects submitted are steel and concrete proof points of the essentiality of engineering. There were some truly amazing entries this year, all of which could easily be pointed to as examples of how our industry is not only welcoming the future but driving it through cutting-edge innovations in design and delivery. From bringing remote areas access to clean water to literally bridging distances between communities, for our members, feats of technical brilliance that serve humanity are just another day at the office.

The onus to secure our future workforce lies with our industry. We need to create incentives that transcend public policy and regulation. At ACEC, we’re working to take advantage of every avenue open to us to create a bright future for our industry.

Have a great week,

Linda Bauer Darr


February 21, 2024


ACEC NEWS, Workforce Development

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