5 Ways to Tackle the Engineering Talent Shortage as an Employer

Since 2019, Engineers of all classifications have featured heavily on the Government’s Shortage Occupations List (SOL). Essentially, there just aren’t enough skilled Engineers in the UK to meet demand right now.

And while this is good news for candidates – who now have a lot of leverage in this candidate-short market – it presents a recruitment nightmare for employers.

Engineers themselves are feeling the pinch too: A recent survey shows 37% of UK Engineering professionals believe the current skills shortage will have the biggest impact on their sector in the next five years.

With so many different factors contributing to the talent shortage, it can be hard to know how and where it’s possible to make any impact. While the Government continues to look for new ways to tackle the engineering skills shortage, what can you do as an employer? Here are a few ideas to consider…

1. Review your offering

If you’re struggling to attract the people you need, look to your employee compensation: are you offering what the candidate really wants, or what the business feels is fair?

Naturally, the first option employers turn to when they’re struggling to find talent is salary inflation, and this has clearly been the case for the Engineering industry in recent years. There’s been an average 10% salary increase for UK engineers in 2021 alone.

But money isn’t everything – employees want more than this. What employee benefits can you offer to attract great engineers? 9 in 10 workers say they want flexibility in their next role. While it’s true that flexible working isn’t the easiest option to offer in an industry like engineering, it’s not impossible.

Have a think about how you could make flexibility work at your organisation. The option of working just one day a week from home could make your roles much more attractive to candidates than what your competitors are currently offering.

2. Train candidates to retain them

A combination of Brexit and Covid-19 have lead to the Great Resignation shaking up hiring in almost every industry; 69% of employees say they’re ready to move jobs. What are you doing to change their minds?

Offering a clear career path and internal development opportunities will not only make your roles more appealing to new candidates, but reduce attrition amongst your existing employees substantially. As much as 82% of employees say they’d quit their job because of a lack of career progression available to them.

So what can you do to ensure your engineers experience a sense of progression inside your organisation? Remember that development doesn’t always need to involve promotion if your internal structure can’t accommodate this. Development can also mean training in new skills that satisfy your employees’ need for learning and self-development, even if there’s no promotion at the end of it.

3. Consider how you appeal to young graduates

Research has shown that although the number of undergraduates entering STEM programs is increasing, only 24% of recent STEM graduates are moving into engineering roles six months after graduating. Instead, these candidates are taking up employment in areas like management or teaching.

What is your organisation doing to appeal to younger candidates and to recruit graduates for entry-level roles?

Engineering is perceived by many younger workers as old fashioned and lacking diversity. Men still outnumber women 8 to 1 in engineering roles, while BAME men are 28% less likely to work in STEM. Research has also shown that 29% of LGBTQ candidates also say they’d avoid a career in STEM for fear of discrimination.

Failing to appeal to young graduates presents a problem: A large number of skilled engineers are predicted to retire from the industry in the next few years (for example, 70% of the current nuclear engineering workforce will be retired by 2025). Therefore, bridging the skills gap at graduate level is key to overcoming the talent shortage now and in the coming years.

4. Move quickly

When you’re competing with many other businesses for skilled engineers in a talent shortage, every minute counts. How can you streamline your hiring process so you’re able to make faster job offers before your competitors do?

For example, could you streamline the interview process so it involves two stages instead of three? Or could you give your recruitment partner more responsibility in managing the initial interview stages so your time is only required when choosing candidates from a final shortlist?

Work closely with your recruitment partner to establish ways you can make the recruitment process tighter and more efficient. This might involve prioritising hiring over certain areas of the business at times, but this will work to your advantage in the long run. If you’re not able to react quickly, you’ll leave yourself vulnerable to counter offers from competitors and current employers too. 

5. Only work with reputable recruitment agencies

For engineering candidates, the only downside of being in such short supply is that they will be getting bombarded daily with comms from desperate recruiters. This happens because employers will leave roles open for any recruiter to fill on a first-come-first-serve contingency basis. This kind of recruitment is counter-productive and is what gives the industry a bad name.

Working exclusively with a reputable recruitment partner will ensure your organisation is represented by professional recruiters you can trust. Reputation is everything, and any candidate who is bothered daily by unprofessional recruiters will likely turn the role down even if it’s the perfect opportunity for them.

Lusona is a recruitment brand that is well known and respected in the UK engineering sector. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you address talent shortages at your organisations, please get in touch.

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