According to this year’s report from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the engineering skills gap is a risk to businesses, though confidence in recruitment is showing steady growth year-on-year. Following the release of the ‘Skills & Demand in Industry 2015’ survey, we wanted to take a look at the key messages:
Recruiting confidence is rising.
More than half (53%) of UK employers are currently seeking engineering and technology staff, up 2% from last year. Though this increase may not seem a lot, it’s been a consistent upwards trend since 2011 (47%). Whilst only 51% of businesses currently have plans to recruit in the next 12 months (down from 63% last year), 68% of the businesses are ‘confident’ of recruiting the staff they need (up from 64% in 2014).
The report highlights a steady growth in businesses actively recruiting new employees over the past four years, which is a reflection of the industry as a whole. Whilst plans to recruit in the next 12 months have reduced slightly, there’s still a strong sense that this scaling back is in favour of bringing in and training the right people for the job, focusing on quality hires over quantity.
Mind the skills gap.
There’s no escaping the skills shortage. With 64% of employers expressing concern that a UK engineer shortage could pose a threat to their business, hiring managers in the engineering and technology industries need to plan accordingly. The IET’s report highlights concerns around business acumen, leadership and management skills and practical experience from candidates coming through into the workplace.
The shortage of engineers in the UK is already hindering growth, with businesses having the greatest difficulty recruiting senior engineers with 5-10 years’ experience. That said, there were more skills gaps reported across all types of recruits than in previous years, with particular challenges in finding graduates with suitable qualifications and skills.
Driving the right kinds of candidates into the industry at education level is extremely important. In order for the UK engineering and technology sectors to continue their growth, better training and education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects will be vital.
Engineering the right education for the future.
With 53% of employers claiming that a typical new recruit falls short of ‘reasonable expectations’, it’s understandable that education of future engineers is a hot topic in this years IET survey. More than a quarter (28%) of organisations felt that university degrees don’t meet their needs, with suggestions being made that technical degrees don’t do enough to develop practical skills or keep up-to-date.
10% of organisations believed that more should be done to promote career opportunities for IT and engineering pupils, with 94% businesses recognising they have a responsibility to support the transition from education and training to the workplace in order to give them access to more ‘eligible staff’.
Training budgets are on the increase too, representing the culture shift that is currently taking place. More and more organisations are realising that compromises sometimes need to be made in order to find the right people — If an individual has the right attributes and characteristics but lacks in skills, businesses are more open to training investment than they have been historically when building their teams.
Making engineering female friendly.
With females accounting for just 9% of engineering and technology employees, gender diversity is a huge topic within the sector. More candidates, whether male or female, creates more opportunity for businesses to grow and develop. The more businesses grow and develop, the greater the opportunity for more candidates within the industry. With such a small proportion of the engineering and technology sector made up of women, and the impact of attracting more into the sector could have could be huge.
It’s an extremely exciting time to be in the engineering and technology sectors right now. We love the industry and are lucky enough to be closely involved with the clients and candidates every day.
If you’re looking for some advice or support with your hiring strategy, give us a call; we’d love to help!