SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – On a day when University of Michigan economists projected the state will add more than 125,000 jobs this year and next, Lawrence Tech students attending a networking reception for employers found that many Michigan companies have shifted hiring into high gear.
More than 20 companies signed up for the career week mixer hosted by the Office of Career Services (OCS) as part of Face Your Future Week at Lawrence Tech. Many companies were looking for new employees with engineering and IT skills.
Of the 261 active postings at OCS this week, 185 are in engineering, according to OCS Director Peg Pierce.
“In the past year we’ve seen a steady increase in employment opportunities, but the big difference with this career fair was that everyone here was actively recruiting for positions that need to be filled,” Pierce said.
Joseph Miller, an engineering manager at the Bosch facility in Plymouth, said he came to Lawrence Tech looking for new hires with strong engineering qualifications, not just candidates for internships and co-op programs. To emphasize that point, he brought along two employees in his department who are Lawrence Tech alumni.
Tony Farrell, who earned his degree in mechanical engineering in 2001, and Jim Darkangelo, who earned an electrical engineering degree in 2005 and a master’s degree in mechatronics in 2008, both work on electronic stability control systems for ABS brakes.
Miller said he and his team identified three or four good candidates at Lawrence Tech’s career mixer. He pointed out that Bosch currently has 56 positions posted on at www.boschjobs.com and urged job seekers to look for positions that fit their skill sets. “There are constant new opportunities, and not just in automotive,” he said.
Keith Huck of Proper Tooling, an injection molding company in Warren that supplies tooling for the automotive industry, said he has hired between 50 and 60 new employees in the past year. He was at Lawrence Tech looking for engineers to help deal with growing demand for his company’s products in the automotive sector.
It’s a dramatic rebound from two years ago. “We experienced a huge drop in sales and had to lay off 30 percent of our workforce. Now we are overwhelmed with work,” Huck said.
Tara Umlah, a talent acquisition associate for Tata Technologies in Novi, had a similar story. She was laid off during the depths of the recession that hit the automotive industry particularly hard. Tata Technologies has been hiring new employees for more than a year, and it has become harder to find qualified candidates because the automotive companies are also hiring.
“The pool of candidates isn’t as deep as it was [a year ago],” Umlah said.
Demand for new graduates is growing in other sectors as well. Quicken Loans, which is making the rounds at college job fairs in the Detroit area, plans to fill about 110 openings, mostly at its offices in downtown Detroit. In addition to needing more mortgage bankers, Quicken Loans has openings in IT, marketing, public relations, and human resources.
U-M economists now project that Michigan will show net payroll employment growth of 64,600 this year and 61,500 next year. That’s a big improvement over the most recent state government revenue forecast made in January, which predicted 8,000 net jobs this year and 46,000 jobs in 2012.
The good news for Michigan isn’t just in future forecasts. The state has added 71,000 jobs since February 2010 and job creation here has exceeded the national average since the economy bottomed out in 2009. The unemployment rate has dropped from 14.1 percent to 10.4 percent in February.
That remains significantly above the national unemployment rate of 8.8 percent, but if the career mixer at Lawrence Tech is any indication, the light at the end of Michigan’s employment tunnel is getting brighter.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, offers more than 100 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in the Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus is in Southfield, and programs are also offered in Detroit, Lansing, Petoskey, Traverse City and Toronto. Lawrence Tech also partners with universities in Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.