Senior engineers are most in demand- International skills shortage is enticing UK engineers abroad

Career-changers could ease the shortfall of senior engineers, according to Roevin Engineering Recruitment. In a new initiative, the specialist recruitment firm is encouraging candidates from all levels and sectors to assess their aptitude for a career in engineering.

As another Fresher’s Week sparks the perennial debate on graduate engineering shortages, recruitment data suggests it is senior engineers who are in highest demand. 12% of advertised engineering jobs are for senior engineers, with this role topping the list of the most sought-after positions for both permanent and contract roles, according to data from Roevin.

Mark Tully, head of Roevin Engineering Recruitment, says: “Engineers are being enticed into careers in other sectors – with bigger paycheques and more glamorous reputations. Their skills are welcomed to the ranks of accountants, law firms and consultants, but there is little flow in the opposite direction. Many professionals with experience in other sectors have transferable skills that would be an asset in an engineering role – yet few people are aware of this opportunity. If you are fascinated by how things work but decided at age 18 not to take an engineering degree, it does not – and should not – preclude you from making a valuable contribution in that profession.”

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Could you be an engineer? Key criteria: • Do you have a proven aptitude to adapt to and embrace new technology? • Are you structured in your planning and methodical in your approach to problem solving? • Do you have a keen interest in discovering the mechanisms of products or machinery?

To encourage greater numbers into engineering, Roevin Engineering Recruitment has created an online tool asking ‘Could you be an engineer?’ By answering questions about education, professional background, key interests and approach to problem solving, respondents generate a score indicating their aptitude for an engineering career. Appropriate candidates then embark on a process of technical up-skilling and training, before beginning an apprenticeship scheme.

The tool forms part of a wider Roevin campaign encouraging new entrants into engineering. Roevin is set to deliver workshops in schools to promote the career to young people – up to 12 years before they will enter the workforce. The programme targets students before they choose their A-level options, as most university courses require maths and at least one other science subject.

Sam Wormald-Smith, director at Roevin, added: “At home and abroad, there is real and rising demand for people with engineering skills. Government investment into STEM subjects and apprenticeships has begun to increase numbers at junior levels but there are not enough senior engineers to manage new intakes. Businesses, government and universities must work together to attract people from a range of backgrounds into engineering careers. Both candidates and employers must be encouraged to recognise the significant value of transferable skills.”

An international shortfall of engineers is exacerbating the UK’s shortage, and creating a brain-drain as senior UK engineers accept jobs abroad. From Australia to the Middle East, companies are willing to pay relocation costs and provide significant benefits packages to entice UK engineers to emigrate.

In the next few years, the UK is expected to face greater demand for engineering requirements, as infrastructure projects expand and the drive towards a low carbon economy creates green jobs for skilled engineers.

Across the UK the number of permanent engineering vacancies increased last month to 24,560, while the number of contractor vacancies rose to 1,881.

The shortage is putting upward pressure on pay within the engineering and construction industry. Last month permanent salaries rose by 0.59% to £37,400 on average with contractor pay also rising.