Engineers are in demand.
According to Engineering UK, engineering companies need around 265,000 new employees every year until 2024 to meet the requirements of largescale projects including EDF’s Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset.
On the face of it, this is great news for a sector that has experienced its ups and downs. I have witnessed many of these first hand during over 15 years working in the engineering recruitment space.
However, the difficulty for many companies is identifying, recruiting and retaining the engineering talent.
Thanks to notable campaigns to encourage more men and women to consider so called STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects as A-Level and Degree options, there is a healthy increase in the number of younger people opting for engineering careers. However, the increase in the number of graduates emerging from our universities is still far short of the number needed to meet the demand of projects like Hinkley and other major capital projects like HS2.
At the other end of the spectrum, the majority of senior roles are held by people – predominantly men - in the more advanced stages of their careers.
Where there is the shortfall of talent is at senior and principal levels, individuals who should now be ready to take on some of the more senior roles in engineering organisations.
There are exceptions, of course, such as Gill Marsden, who was last year appointed Managing Director of leading nuclear engineering business NIS, Michelle Cushion, MD at BMT Fluid Mechanics and Jane Toogood, Sector Chief Executive at Johnson Matthey.
Analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research a couple of years ago showed that the gross value added (GVA) for the UK by the engineering sector was £433billion. This was more than the retail, wholesale, financial and insurance sectors combined, yet less than 20% of total UK employment works in the industry.
The sector also has considerable work to do when it comes to gender diversity. In 2017, data revealed that women made up only 1 in 8 of those in engineering occupations and less than 1 in 10 in an engineering role within an engineering company.
Promoting gender diversity in STEM uptake will be particularly important if the sector is to build a sustainable pipeline of future talent.
Armstrong Craven is working with a number of organisations in the engineering sector helping them to combat the recruitment challenges they face. We have projects in industries including nuclear, aerospace and defence.
They turn to us to help them identify the best talent for senior and scarce roles. We partner with our clients to enable them to take a strategic approach to talent acquisition through the delivery of our insight, mapping and pipelining services. We help businesses put in place the right strategy to differentiate themselves and position their brand in a compelling way for an external audience. We can do this both locally and on a global scale.
- Catherine Neville is a Client Partner in Armstrong Craven’s Consumer and Industrial team.