The State of ‘the War for Talent’ – A Talent Market Trend Analysis

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With the growth of the additive manufacturing industry, there is an inevitable progression in demand for talented professionals to help businesses expand their AM divisions and overgo competitors. The AM industry is suffering from a severe gap between talent demand from employers and talent supply, i.e., the number of available professionals. For the past many years, this gap, coined ‘The War for Talent,’ has put a significant strain on the talent market, as the pool of experienced Additive Manufacturing professionals is limited and is growing at a slower rate than the market demands.

Over the years, Alexander Daniels Global has proposed a quantification of the talent shortage in the AM industry, by way of extensive quantitative research. Through surveying the industry on their experiences, AD Global has been successful in producing an annual report on the state of the talent market in Additive Manufacturing. What you will see in this article, is a selection of data taken from that report. The ratio below indicates how many available Additive Manufacturing professionals there were, at the time of writing the report, for each advertised job posting.

This means that throughout 2020, for every 1 available job, there were 22 AM professionals able to fill that job – globally. The talent scarcity that can be seen in 2018 and 2019, has been a pain for many hiring organizations in Additive Manufacturing. However, the professionals per job ratio looks significantly different in 2020. Let’s start to analyze why:

Growth of Total Number of Professionals in Additive Manufacturing has Skyrocketed.

In the past 12 months, the size of the talent pool in Additive Manufacturing has increased significantly. The graph below shows the development of the total number of Additive Manufacturing professionals for the past two years, both in North America and in Europe.

There has been a 36% growth in the number of AM professionals in North America from 2019 to 2020. Similarly, there has been 26% rise in the total number of AM professionals in Europe.  This significant growth happened from 2019 through to 2020, the majority of which was pre-COVID-19, where the industry was growing with continuous investments into new technology and material development. As such, the talent pool for the industry continued to grow.

Equally, looking at the number of people who declared themselves ‘open to new opportunities’ on LinkedIn, there was even bigger growth to be found. While you would expect the amount of people ‘open to new opportunities’ to roughly follow the same growth trend as the number of professionals in AM, this is not the case. In fact, the number of people who are open to new opportunities on LinkedIn has increased from 21,000 in 2019, to 38,000 in 2020 in North America (+81%) and from 15,000 to 32,000 in Europe (+113%). The bigger growth in available professionals versus the growth in total number of professionals is an indication of the uncertainty in the industry, more AM professionals without a job, and ultimately an increased availability of talent on the market.

Few available jobs – Professionals to job ratio: a shrinking talent gap?

The effect of the Coronavirus crisis on jobs, hiring freezes, and layoffs can also be seen in the results of our 2021 Additive Manufacturing Salary Survey. Compared to the same time last year, there were 60% fewer available jobs within Additive Manufacturing posted on LinkedIn, in North America. Similarly, Europe experienced a drop in available jobs by 62% compared to the previous year.

North America

Of the +150,000 Additive Manufacturing professionals in North America, 25% (i.e., 38,000) consider themselves open to new opportunities. This percentage is 6% points higher than in 2019, where 19% of all professionals considered themselves open to changing jobs. This big increase, paired with a decrease in jobs to just around 1850 open positions, resulted in a 20:1 candidate to job ratio. That means, that for every job posting, there are 20 job candidates in the entire North America, that could potentially fill that job. That is a significantly higher ratio than the 5:1 ratio of 2019.


In Europe, of the +110,000 AM professionals in the industry at the time of writing the report, 32,000 declared themselves open to new possibilities. This, paired with just 1300 available jobs, leaves a candidate to job ratio of 24:1 – significantly higher than the 4:1 ratio of 2019.

However, these ratios are likely to be lower, considering that the candidate must have specific experience in a field related to the job and must be either in the same location as the job or be willing to relocate.

Talent Scarcity Remains

While a shrinking talent gap and an increased amount of available talent sounds like good news for the hiring organizations, there is still scarcity in the market around certain disciplines and positions. While there may be more candidates actively looking, some roles remain very challenging to fill, with few qualified suitable candidates available. Additionally, while talent may be more actively looking for new roles, they are certainly more selective of their next career move, due to the uncertain global situation. They want to be sure they are joining a stable business, and for many candidates, relocation has become much less attractive and even impossible for some.

A second challenge for hiring organizations is that with so many people generally looking for work, whether they have experience in Additive Manufacturing or not, the organizations may likely receive a lot of applications. The problem is that 95% of those applications will be unsuitable, but they will still have to screen them all to perhaps find the one diamond in the rough.

Impact on Employers and Employees

The response and reaction to the economic crisis following the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, has been significantly different between high growth start-ups and scaleups, and the larger more established businesses. The former appeared less impacted by the situation and continued to hire at pace, as these types of businesses are generally far less dependent on revenue and much more focused on growth to hit their next investment round. Alternatively, the larger, more established businesses were in many cases forced to resize teams that were probably larger than they needed to be, bringing their costs back in line.

Moreover, in a talent market that currently favors the employer, it will not be uncommon to see organizations likely try to reduce salaries that they are offering; however, this presents a challenge that if the market shifts back to the employee, the short-term benefit of cutting costs may result in disgruntled employees who may end up leaving their jobs in search of more suitable opportunities.

Alexander Daniels Global is pleased to be able to provide you with a short overview on the state of ‘The War on Talent’ within the Additive Manufacturing industry. A deeper analysis can be found in our 2021 Salary Survey Report which details the statistical conclusions drawn following our surveyance of the industry in Q4 of 2020.

You can still download your free copy of the report by visiting https://www.alexanderdanielsglobal.com/salary-survey-2021/ .

It is important to note that as of 2021, we are expecting to see a significant growth in the industry as global economies start to recover, and 4.0 industries, such as Additive Manufacturing, that flourished through the pandemic, start to pick up pace. Companies looking to bulk up their teams once again to drive forward the growth of their business, will likely start recruiting this year.

At Alexander Daniels Global, we look forward to helping and guiding your business in making those strategic hiring decisions.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch through our website to discuss your business and hiring needs today.

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