DETROIT -- General Motors Co. is wrestling with an old problem. Literally.
Engineers in their 20s and 30s are largely absent from GM's North American and European operations. So the automaker is hiring, says Karl-Friedrich Stracke, vice president of global vehicle engineering.
GM misses the perspectives of younger engineers on how people in their 20s and 30s use computers, both in vehicles and on the job, says Rick Spina, 50, vehicle line executive for GM's full-sized trucks. GM also needs to train younger engineers to take over when Spina and his peers retire, he says.
As part of GM's restructuring, the engineering department limited hiring for several years. Since 2004, GM has cut more than 12,000 salaried jobs in the United States. And GM's European Opel unit is restructuring after the company in November canceled plans to sell Opel.
"We've still got a lot of talent, but we don't have young people," Spina says. "You've got a chunk of the U.S. population, the world population, that we're not well-represented in. Is that going to hurt us long term? Absolutely."
So in mid-January, GM started hiring both college graduates and experienced engineers to fill key North American holes left by departing staffers and to bulk up its green technologies and hybrid and electric teams, Stracke says. He declines to give a target number of hires, saying GM is still forecasting its needs.
The North American hiring includes some contract employees. GM is also adding contractors in Europe.
Paul McVeigh contributed to this report