HR experts share their experience in hiring photonics talent in North America

April 11, 2024 - Elisenda Lara
The session focused on insights from HR experts and a company regarding their hiring journey in North America

During the EPIC HR Workgroup meeting focused on “Hiring in North America,” our HR experts shared several key insights regarding the current state of the labor market and salary expectations in the region.

During the EPIC HR Workgroup meeting focused on “Hiring in North America”, our HR experts shared several key insights regarding the current state of the labor market and salary expectations in the region.

Ronald Mueller, CEO of Vision Markets started with an Economic Outlook comparing the EU and US labor market landscapes, while EU is in a really deep struggle in manufacturing, the US there has a clearer growth path since the last period of 2023.

US shows stronger long-term growth than the EU driven by more liberal policies and domestic consumption

Mueller also explained that the state of the labor market in the US is tight because there are more open positions than people looking for work. And he highlighted the potential for smaller companies to capitalize on layoffs from larger corporations by hiring experienced individuals who can contribute immediately.

Screenshot of a moment of the meeting showing Ronald Mueller, Carlos Lee and Gloria

Salary Expectations in Photonics when hiring in the US

Several factors affecting job mobility and salary growth were discussed. High housing prices and mortgage interest rates were identified as barriers to mobility for job seekers. While wage growth has been substantial, it has not kept pace with housing costs in many regions. Additionally, the aging workforce in the US, with a projected 25% over 55 by 2025, necessitates a shift in talent strategy for companies. Carlos Lee, Director General at EPIC, provided comparative data, highlighting the increasing proportion of older workers in the EU job market. This trend underscores the importance of adapting recruitment and retention strategies to accommodate an aging workforce.

Salary expectations vary depending on industry, region, and experience level. Technical industries generally command higher average salaries, with slight variations between R&D and Applications roles. Various components, such as base salary, bonuses, and benefits, contribute to overall compensation packages. He also mentioned that US managers have more freedom when it comes to bonus schemes than in the EU.

Location also plays a crucial role. When asked whether it’s better to hire a salesman in a cheaper area or in hotspots like Rochester or the West Coast, the answer was clear: If you opt for a cheaper area, ensure it has good airport connections. Otherwise, you might end up spending the salary savings on travel expenses.

The experience of a photonics company recruiting in North America

Ed Yousse, Chief Business Development Officer & General Manager of Altechna, an European Photonics Company that has recently acquired a US company from Colorado: Alpine Research Optics (ARO), shared his experience of hiring new talent there. Yousse highlighted the importance of locating businesses in photonics clusters such as the Rochester Area, West Coast, Colorado Region, and Florida, while also considering emerging areas like North East Arizona and Texas.

Another crucial aspect of the hiring strategy, according to Yousse, is gaining support from local authorities and educational institutions. Engaging with community colleges and internship programs can facilitate future recruitment efforts, providing access to a stable pool of talent. Among the attendees there was Patricia Panchack, editor at Laser Focus World, who also commented on the importance of increasing the awareness of photonics and having more support of public policies and general business leaders. “Having no government statistical data, including standard job titles, creates additional challenges to obtaining the grants on which the efforts to recruit students to enter photonics educational programs depend”. Said Patricia, who considers that it’s not as immediate as many other actions, but it’s a necessary, actionable, long-term strategy.”

Ed Yousse ,Chief Business Development Officer of Altechna, and Patricia Panchack editor at Laswer Focus World Magazine discuss during the meeting.

In closing, Yousse emphasized that while many aspire to work for large tech companies, known as GAFAMs, small or medium-sized companies offer greater stability, as evidenced by recent significant layoffs.

Ed Yousse and Frank Wolfs from Profound Corporate Recruitment are discussing about the how long takes to get a green card. Ed says no less than 1 year.

The meeting was also a good ocassion to ask practical questions about recruiting in North America. For example, Frank Wolfs, talent acquisition director at Imec and Founder of Profound Corporate Recruitment, asked about the timeline for a Green Card application. “One year”, replied Yousse.

The next HR Workgroup is scheduled for 7 June and will focus on attracting young talent to the photonics industry.