New SBA Report: 11 Barriers Hammering R&D

Recently, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy published a report identifying 11 barriers hampering small business R&D and innovation. Among them was a shortage of high quality R&D, scientific, engineering, technical, IT and manufacturing talent. All areas my technical recruiting firm focuses on.

The report cited a general consensus among technology firms that there is a shortage of engineering and production job talent, which can slow company growth. The challenge is not only finding individuals with the requisite science and engineering (S&E) education and experience, but also individuals with skills to work in production jobs (e.g. technicians). The mix of S&E and production job talent within any small company will vary depending on the particular technology industry and stage of company development. For small companies in the Additive Manufacturing (AM) industry, the focus was more around the need for highly skilled production job workers than S&E workers.

Additive ManufacturingAdditive manufacturing (AM) is increasingly being adopted in manufacturing and garnering significant attention in the media. It is defined as the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D models, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive methods. While the technology has been around for almost 30 years, improvements in AM technologies are heading towards an inflection point. AM is currently used across diverse industries including those producing consumer, industrial, medical, automotive and aerospace products.

Though the report focused on Additive Manufacturing in general and 3-D printing in specific, its findings can be extrapolated to a wide range of R&D, scientific, engineering, IT, technical and manufacturing fields. For example, while the lack of individuals to fill these highly skilled positions will continue to be a problem, two important issues for small businesses in particular are:

1) How do they recruit and retain these skilled workers?

2) How do they get their employees access to the necessary training needed?

Please click here to to view the entire report.

3D PrintingMany of this report’s findings are consistent with my past article on 3-D printing where I shared about its growing importance.

Additionally, I shared anecdotal findings by both my firm’s internal executive recruiters and other executive recruitment agencies that in recent months there is an increasing scarcity of technical talent. Please go to for more information. In that article, I shared about a general lack of recruiting and retention skills by many companies, which impedes their ability to attract and retain that key technical talent. As a result, several training steps were suggested to improve recruiting efforts.

What are your current technical recruiting experiences and findings?