Engineering Recruitment: Trends, insights and opportunities

By E3 Recruitment
schedule4th Sep 23

In the world of hiring engineers, it's important to understand and keep up with new trends if you want your company to grow. Being able to attract and keep the best engineers depends on how well you can adjust to these changes.

We take a look into the engineering recruitment landscape, discussing new trends and what to look out for in 2023.

Employment in the engineering industry

With 25% of all job postings being for engineering roles in the UK, the UK's need for skilled and adaptable engineers is now more urgent than ever. A recent study from Engineering UK amplifies the need for more engineers, sooner rather than later, especially across green engineering jobs. Growing by 55% in the last 5 years, 'green skills' are needed in 48% of all advertised engineering roles.

Employers are now strategically recruiting, rather than panic recruiting which has been seen in recent years. We've seen a huge increase in the demand for project workers, and the request for more industry specialised employees hasn't relented over this last year.

What sectors and regions have fared best in terms of engineering salaries?

According to a survey by The Engineer, the fossil fuel sector has once again risen to the top of the earnings table with an average salary of £66k. In terms of regions, engineers employed in the Midlands & East Anglia region accounted for the largest share of respondents at 24%, while engineers employed in the North of England saw an increase in average salaries from £55k to £58k. However, most regions saw modest increases in average salaries, and 71% of respondents across all sectors reported a salary increase in the past 12 months.

What are the broader challenges facing the UK engineering industry in 2023?

The UK engineering industry is facing several challenges in 2023. One of the critical challenges is the push for net-zero, which requires significant investment in new technologies and infrastructure. Another challenge is the ageing demographic of the engineering workforce, which is a major area of concern for the industry. The industry also faces the twin challenge of developing and nurturing a fresh pipeline of talent, whilst finding ways of retaining and capturing the skills and expertise of those leaving the sector. Finally, the events of the past year, including a war in Europe, months of political chaos, a self-inflicted economic meltdown, and a recession, have created a challenging economic backdrop for the industry.

"As the industry undergoes significant changes and opportunities emerge, our insights become our clients strategic advantage. We understand that attracting and retaining the best engineering talent requires an intimate knowledge of the latest trends and a proactive approach to evolving skill requirements. At E3R, we're committed to helping your organisation stay ahead of the curve, whether it's adapting to the rise of automation and green skills, recognising the growing importance of soft skills, bolstering your online presence, or enhancing your employer branding.

As the industry faces challenges like the push for net-zero, the skills gap, retention issues, an aging workforce, and a lack of diversity, our expertise ensures you have the right talent in place. With over 300 years of combined experience in engineering recruitment, we are your partner in navigating these challenges and shaping a future marked by innovation, collaboration, and sustained excellence in the dynamic world of engineering." - Matt Booth, Associate Director.

Trends to look out for

Adapting to automation

With automation on the rise, it's changing the skills that engineers should have. Engineering companies should understand how important it is to have engineers who are good at automation and have a range of digital skills. They should spend time and effort to train their current employees and also look for these skills when hiring new people. This way, the company can stay competitive in this era where automation is a big deal.

The focus on soft skills

In the world of engineering, soft skills are becoming more important. Being able to communicate effectively, solve problems and work in a team is essential to bringing innovative ideas to technology. So when companies hire engineers, they need to think about their soft skills as much as their overall technical skills.

Engineering companies boosting their online presence

As more people search for jobs online, businesses need to have a strong online presence. This goes beyond just having a good website. It means being active on social media, joining industry discussions online, and being on job websites. It's also about making sure there are positive reviews and testimonials online because these can shape how someone thinks about a company when they're considering a job.

Companies enhancing their employer branding

In a world where finding the right people for a job can be tough, having a good reputation as an employer is important. Not only a good salary; Companies need to define what they stand for, what it’s like to work there, and how they train their employees, with additional opportunities for growth in their operations. This way they can reach out to people who believe in the same things and contribute to the long-term success of the company.

Challenges in engineering recruitment

Net Zero: One of the critical challenges facing the industry is the push for net-zero. The UK government has set a target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which requires significant investment in new technologies and infrastructure.

Skills gap: A big problem for UK engineering is that there aren't enough qualified people to fill the high-level jobs that are available. It therefore takes longer to find the right people for highly - skilled roles, costing more money to hire them.

Retention: Another challenge is keeping talented engineers around. Other countries offer better pay and opportunities, meaning many engineers are leaving the UK for better jobs abroad. Companies have to hire and train new people, which can be expensive.

Ageing workforce: The prevalent issue is that a lot of experienced engineers are getting older and retiring in the UK. But there aren't enough young engineers to take their place. This means the industry is losing valuable knowledge and skills, which is becoming a big problem.

Lack of diversity: UK engineering has a problem with not having a diverse workforce. Typically, the majority of engineers are male, resulting in an underrepresentation of women and various ethnic backgrounds. This can make the UK engineering industry less innovative and competitive worldwide.

Engineering industry facts
  • 18% of the UK working population work in engineering.
  • 15% of the working population of every region are in engineering jobs.
  • More than 40% of people working in engineering worked in manufacturing industries
  • 25% of all job listings in the UK were for engineering positions
Engineering apprenticeships

Bringing in apprentices sends a clear message to employees in engineering businesses: You are creating a course for a brighter future for the company. As apprentices are trained to step into specific roles or to help shoulder the workload, it's a way of showing your current engineering team that you are actively listening to their concerns and investing in honing skills that directly address those needs.

Apprenticeships in engineering have a track record of effectively tackling skills gaps across industries, engineering included. Through hands-on training and educational experiences, these apprenticeships empower you to cultivate emerging talent and establish a skilled workforce.

Outlook for the next year

In the fast-paced landscape of engineering recruitment, staying ahead of the curve is important for any organisation's growth.

The introduction of technological advancements, evolving skill requirements, and changing workplace dynamics demand a proactive approach to attract and retain top engineering talent. By embracing the insights gained from the trends, challenges, and opportunities discussed, companies can position themselves for a future of innovation, collaboration, and sustained excellence in the evolving world of engineering.

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