The Unique Technical and Engineering Recruitment Challenges

The technical and engineering industry has faced several recruitment challenges in recent years. With events like Brexit and Covid19 only adding to the stresses that many employers feel. However, by identifying these challenges we can effectively plan to ensure that employers still find talent.

Recruitment Challenges That Hiring Managers Face In The Technical and Engineering Industry.

The technical and engineering sector is continually evolving, it also has an abundance of vacancies with a shortage of new and experienced talent. According to a 2019 EngineeringUK Report, the forecast for job openings from 2014 – 2024 will be 13 million as a result of those that leave the market and 1.8million from newly created jobs. As a result, employers need to implement a diverse Recruitment Process that proactively tackles the recruitment challenges within the industry.

Here are the main areas this blog covers, click the links below to jump to the section that you would like to learn more about:

  1. Internal Technical and Engineering Recruitment Challenges
  2. External Technical and Engineering Recruitment Challenges
  3. What Employer Can Do To Overcome These Challenges

Internal Technical and Engineering Recruitment Challenges

Shortage Of Skilled Or Trained Talent

Over time, we have seen that there has been a shortage of skills candidates within this sector, in particular candidates with 5-6 years of experience. One reason is that there has been a reduction in the uptake of apprenticeships and training schemes. According to research, “engineering-related apprenticeships made up 26% of all apprenticeships”. However, the additional factors that are also causing the talent pool to dwindle:

  1. Strong competition for skilled or trained candidates;
  2. Shortage of applications across the variety of roles available;
  3. The lack of knowledge around the educations routes into technical and engineering roles; and
  4. Many young people being unaware of what they can achieve by working in the sector.

As a result, many employers now choose to hire based on the ‘cultural fit’ of candidates. Then train them to have the relevant business skills. However, training employees to operate a range of sophisticated equipment takes time, resources and a thorough process. So, it is imperative to implement techniques to retain talent.

This change in the mentality towards hiring has been reflected in the recruitment process, with many employers finding that their ‘ideal candidate’ has evolved. As there is now an emphasis on the future potential of candidates. So, employers are also changing their recruitment process to include additional personality testing on top of the other pre-employment tests available. This works as an excellent contingency plan with employers hiring their ‘future leaders’.

Attracting the Right Talent To Roles

Many employers find that they have challenges when it comes to attracting the right talent to their roles. Making this stage of the recruitment process very difficult when coupled with a narrow candidate pool and with many candidates being attracted to other industries.

Here are some techniques that you can use in your advert to attract qualified technical and engineering talent;

  1. When writing your job advert, make it clear and accurate. Include information such as any specialist equipment they will be using, unique tasks that they will be responsible for and what KPIs they can expect. Find out more about how to write a job advert in our blog.
  2. List the key skills that the candidate will need and place this section above the responsibilities. This way candidates will be able to quickly identify if your requirements match their skills.
  3. Talk about your company within your job advert but don’t sell your services. Sell your culture, environment and other information you think a candidate should know about your business.
  4. In fact, you should really scream about the unique benefits that you have to offer candidates.

A Gender Imbalance Within The Industry

Workforce diversity is important within any business. As it means that the business can draw on a range of perspectives or ideas, which improves productivity and adaptability within teams. There has been a gender imbalance within the technical and engineering industries for years, one that is slowly starting to improve.

However, to tackle this employers need to start engaging with candidates earlier. Be active in the education community and consider working with schools to host open days that provide insight into your business. This will help show young women that technical and engineering can be a potential career for them.

Retaining Talent Within Business

Retaining staff is becoming increasingly difficult. With significant competition for talent, you must take the time to plan and develop the business so that it’s always attractive to candidates. A few ideas of how you can achieve this:

  1. Offer the right benefits package. Undertake internal surveys (with anonymous responses if needs be) to gain an insight into what your staff want.
  2. Be transparent and open with your communication. Especially if you are looking to make changes to your staff benefits package or elements of the business. This will also help you to tackle the constant changes within the industry, as your staff will provide insight that you can use.
  3. Conduct exit interviews. This is criminally underused by so many employers. However, they provide an opportunity to learn about why staff are leaving. Which can be used to reduce employee turnover in the future.

External Technical and Engineering Recruitment Challenges

Brexit

Brexit is an interesting topic within the recruitment challenges faced in the technical and engineering sector.

After the UK leaving the EU (European Union) in January 2020 with no clear plan for things like universities, trade and export. There are concerns within the Technical and Engineering Industry that the pool of available talent might decrease further.

This is due to UK higher education options becoming less appealing and with the end of Free Moment, which has permitted Europeans to plug the skills deficits across the Technical and Engineering Industry.

Additionally, Brexit brings new challenges to the industry including:

  1. Many businesses employ overseas workers, whose right to work may be affected.
  2. International Agreements may be difficult to negotiate due new restrictions. Which may prove too costly and time-consuming to be seen as worthwhile.
  3. Supply Chain may also be negatively impacted. With moving out of the EU causing difficulties when quality checking imported parts and goods.

Covid-19

There is no question that the coronavirus pandemic has brought immense change for all industries.

However, we saw the technical and engineering industry stand up to the challenge! By developing and manufacturing ventilators, PPE and other equipment needed, some helped create pop-up hospitals and others helped speed up the COVID track and trace system

Initial studies on the effects that COVID will have on the industry are suggesting that there is increasing concern amongst young people regarding the future of education and job opportunities. In a more recent study conducted by EngineeringUK about the Job Certainty for 11 – 19-year-olds in the future, found that over 44% of young people surveyed now think that ‘having a job that you can be certain you can keep’ is very important when they are considering their career. With 41% saying that they’re thinking about the ‘availability of jobs’ as part of their career plan as well.

Whilst this can bode well for future recruitment in the industry. It’s now more important than ever to be active in the education community.

The Uk’s Second Lockdown

As we finish the first complete week in the UK’s second lockdown, businesses in the technical and engineering sector have been able to have a slight sigh of relief as they have been able to remain open during the next lockdown (starting the 5th November).

We asked one of our senior technical and engineering consultants their thoughts on the new lockdown, and how this would impact recruitment:

In Engineering and Manufacturing it is definitely business as usual. In fact, campaigns took less time to bring to completion in the first lockdown, as face to face meetings couldn’t be conducted (so all organisations pivoted to video interviews). Interestingly, the number of interviews conducted per hire reduced to 3 during Lockdown, rather than the trend of 5 in normal processes. All of which bodes well for the recruiting process during the next lockdown.

The manufacturing world will never stop producing. As we live in a world where we consume more than we actually need, so as any business director would agree if there’s a demand there is money to be made.

Treat this Christmas as you would do any Christmas, production hasn’t slowed down in any FMCG environment. However, it is important to take extra precautions to ensure staff safety.

With news that the NHS is ready for the vaccine that could be rolled out from December 1st (if it gets approved), many of us are hoping that we can regain some sense of ‘normal’ in the new year. Now is the time to continue building and developing a strong workforce that will enable the company to quickly regain strength.

What Employers Can Do To Combat These Recruitment Challenges

Appeal To A Younger Demographic

Recruiting for talent that is already skilled and experience will be an integral part of your recruitment strategies. However, employers can support business growth and future-proof the organisation by targeting the younger demographic. There are many benefits to including this demographic within your strategy, the main one is that you can train and develop these hires into what the business needs.

However, appealing to this target market will require businesses to adapt. As each talent pool has different work expectations and this segment is no different. As an employer, you will need to take the time to understand what their expectations are and how you can integrate them within your business. 4 key areas that you should consider:

  1. Can you offer an improved work-life balance?
  2. Are the facilities available good and pleasing to use?
  3. Is there progression opportunities within the business?
  4. Is there training opportunities available to develop a candidate’s skill-set?

Create Connections With Candidates

With many firms eager to attract top talent to their organisations, it is becoming important that business not only identify this talent but connect with them as well.

Employers can use various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, to proactively engage with talent. Additionally, you can utilise sites such as Glassdoor or Google Reviews to improve your employer reputation within the industry. Doing both of these will provide an opportunity for organisations to develop and nurture their employer brand. Which will support future recruitment campaigns by attracting talent that is already aligned with the business culture and goals.

How Does Regional Recruitment Services Tackle The Recruitment Challenges In The Technical and Engineering Sector?

Despite these challenges within the Technical and Engineering Sector, our specialist division are uniquely positioned to source experienced talent. Our consultants have solely recruited in the division, for over 15 years’, and have tackled these challenges head-on.

With our database of vetted candidates, we can quickly support your requirements. With regular engagement and the unique opportunities that we offer, many of these candidates work with us on an exclusive basis. However, we also proactively headhunt for suitable talent in the market to expand our ever-growing database of talent.

But, for us, it is important to find the right talent and not just fill roles. So we take the time to assess our candidates, with thorough telephone interviews, tests and reference checks. Collecting references is an integral part of our assessment, as it provides us with insight into a candidates cultural fit and competencies. Including attendance, their ability to handle workloads and the quality of work that they achieve. 

Contact our team today if you are looking for dedicated support that will tackle the challenges of technical and engineering recruitment.

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