With competition growing, engineering recruitment isn’t as straightforward as you might imagine, but solutions are at hand for forward thinking employers…
There is a problem for industry that has been growing over the past few decades and is now on the verge of developing into a crisis if it remains unchecked. The problem is a lack of talent being attracted into engineering in its many forms which is leading to a skills shortage on a dramatic scale: it is reckoned that there will be a shortfall of 1 million skilled engineers in the UK by 2020. For a sector that is so vital to the economy, this is frightening news.
The problem lies with the employers themselves. They seem intent on competing for a dwindling number of experienced engineers and, in this global economy, which means competing not just with their peers here but from all over the world. The brain-drain is real and it’s happening now!
Adding to the difficulties is the lack of new talent coming through. There are around 15,000 engineering graduates leaving university each year; not only is this not enough but almost half of those don’t continue into a career in engineering. It seems like the grass is much greener in other sectors. Way too many talented people don’t take engineering degrees in the first place because there are much easier, more creative degrees out there to take and, after all, it’s often just the piece of paper that they are looking for.
Even if they stay in engineering, the lack of supply compared to demand means competition is fierce which gives the larger corporations and foreign powerhouses the edge over small yet innovative firms.
There are answers to the difficult questions being posed by the skills shortage, but it is going to take some fresh thinking and a bit of vision from employers. It’s time to look for new talent among a younger demographic rather keep turning to the same old campaigners. Instead of competing for the same group of experienced engineers consider the untapped pool of young minds with fresh ideas. Being unspoilt by experience you can mould them into the sort of employee that you want and one that will more easily adapt to your company’s culture.
How do you do this? How do you attract the people you need away from lucrative offers from other sectors? To start with, engineering firms must make themselves more visible around campus, they must become more visible on social media; you have to be where they are and talking to them. You need to make yourself an attractive proposition and we’re not just talking about money here. What can you offer them? Have you considered flexible working patterns and other benefits? What about the company culture itself? Sell yourself to them: show them how innovative and forward thinking you are, the journey you are on and just how far you can reach together with them on the team. Be exciting!
It is also important to place emphasis on apprenticeships; if you can’t find one, make one. Build your own engineering professional from scratch and mould them in your company’s image.
Engineering is vital to the UK economy, it always has been. The Engineering Council, among others, needs to be pushing for the education system to concentrate on more technical subjects in secondary education to introduce the young student to career prospects within the industry and help them decide whether to pursue it through higher education or via an apprenticeship.
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Tuesday May 1, 2018