DETROIT -- Detroit needs more people like Victoria Schein. Less than a year out of Smith College, the 23-year-old software engineer has filed for 14 patents and received nine as part of Ford Motor Co.'s autonomous-vehicle research team.
A self-described "California girl" with a thing for cars, Schein, a former Ford summer intern in the company's Silicon Valley research center, passed up a couple of enviable local offers to move to Dearborn, Mich., and work for the automaker full time.
"It's not that I don't want to be in Palo Alto, I love California," she says. "But when I came out here, it opened my eyes to different possibilities."
Schein is the exception. As U.S. automakers race companies such as Apple Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo to automate driving, most of the top talent continues to cluster out west, where there's better pay and weather, among other things. The Detroit 3 and other car companies have about 5,000 U.S. job openings in software and electronics product development, representing about a third of their unfilled positions, estimates consultant AlixPartners.
"This is a massive challenge," said Ben Dollar, a principal at Deloitte Consulting who counsels automakers on recruiting. "The scarcity of talent in this area is so acute, it's become a CEO issue, not just an HR issue."