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ACEC Calls for Action on Engineering Shortage

April 25, 2023
ACEC asks Biden Administration to prioritize engineers designing America’s infrastructure with changes to employment-based visa programs.
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WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, American Council of Engineering Companies President and CEO Linda Bauer Darr sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging action on workforce issues impacting the engineering and design services industry.

In the letter, ACEC raised the alarm that America doesn't have enough engineers to do the important work called for in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS Act.

ACEC expressed support for targeted reforms to the H1-B visa program, such as modifying the material change amendment requirement, recommending that USCIS supports guidance that considers engineering a specialty occupation, and prohibiting multiple entries in the visa lottery system, among other initiatives to ease the labor shortage of engineers.

The organization also supports expanded STEM education as a long-term solution to the workforce needs of America’s engineering industry.

Concerns About Capacity

“The ACEC Research Institute highlighted concerns about capacity in its most recent quarterly engineering business sentiment study when it reported that 49 percent of firms have turned down work specifically due to workforce shortages,” wrote Darr.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the engineering workforce was at full employment before the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (also called the IIJA), IRA, and the CHIPS and Science Act.

The ACEC Research Institute further estimates that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will create an additional 82,000 full- and part-time jobs in engineering and design services.

Noting their work with Congress to make improvements to workforce legislation, ACEC wrote that it would additionally “appreciate any steps the Administration can take to prioritize engineers designing the infrastructure funded by IIJA, IRA, and the CHIPS and Science Act within existing employment-based visa program. We are also asking the Administration to improve the OPT, H-1B and green card programs.”

Recent data from the ACEC Research Institute found that America’s engineering and design services industry is responsible for 1.5 million direct full- and part-time jobs with an average of $97,300 in yearly wages. The industry contributes $198 billion directly to the economy and $105 billion in total federal, state & local taxes.

Read the full letter here.