Engineering Recruitment Trends​

As we are mid way into 2024 I thought it timely to discuss some engineering recruitment trends that our team are noticing with our clients & candidates.

One of the biggest things we are noticing is how salaries are continuing to rise, this is something we saw in 2023 not just for the engineering sector but across the board.

The engineering market is highly changeable and so business’s need to move fast when hiring. Salaries still aren’t competitive enough within the engineering industry. With the skills gap only getting bigger, top talent within the industry is hunting for much more than the average salaries we uncovered throughout the year. It’s baffling to see that for some shifts, only a small percentage of companies are actually meeting the minimum salaries that engineers would even entertain.

Below we have listed some of the biggest trends we are seeing in 2024. ​

Competitive Salaries

We are working in a highly competitive marketplace, so salaries are being pushed higher than ever to reflect the demand for skilled talent.

Obviously, some companies may not be able to increase their salaries as much as others. But they can elevate the package by putting in place some popular benefits (and making sure to shout about these in their job adverts). Increased pensions, enhanced holiday packages, competitive overtime rates, and private healthcare are only a few suggestions of what companies can do to make their package more competitive. And we predict to see a lot more of this in 2024.

When you think of competitive packages and salaries, it’s easy to assume that the bigger companies always win. But you’d be wrong. We’ve seen a good few SMEs keeping up with the larger companies because their packages have remained competitive. Reviewing what you can offer to engineers is the key to staying relevant and getting that top talent in. Its important to remember that its not just about salary, other benefits such as a good work life balance are just as important to some as an increase in their base salary. ​

Automotive is on the Rise

This time last year, we were experiencing engineers transitioning away from the Automotive sector. Which was a result of job insecurity in the industry that stemmed from fluctuating order books and difficulties sourcing materials. Towards the end of last year, our engineering recruitment team saw many engineers transition from the automotive to manufacturing/stem environments.

However, automotive has made a resurgence. For instance, Jaguar Land Rover massively increased their maintenance team, hiring over 100 maintenance technicians for the Solihull plant. So, we’re seeing first hand that automotive is on the rise again and may continue in 2024.

The Recruitment Process is Speeding Up

The recruitment process is speeding up… And it needs to. As recruiters, we know first hand that engineers are getting snatched up left, right, and centre. But some companies do not feel this sense of urgency. But to put it into perspective…

Engineers will have multiple opportunities now, instead of around 2 in previous years. So, if your hiring process takes longer than a week, changes need to be made. That is just too long. Recruiters may harp on about this, but top engineers are getting snapped up within a few days of their CVs being online.

Candidates really have a lot of options right now (It’s thanks to the skills shortage). It’s amazing for the engineers because they have so much choice. But when you’re trying to get an engineer on board, you really are battling against other companies. Our advice is to get things moving a lot quicker. Don’t procrastinate when you see an engineer that ticks all the boxes! Urgency really has increased, so we expect to see a realisation of this amongst the engineering industry. And companies levelling up their recruitment game as a result.​

Apprenticeships are on the Rise

Last year we predicted that we’d see engineering apprenticeships on the rise and we were right. Apprentices allow companies to utilise the succession planning process to retain knowledge within the business, despite the retirement of some of the workforce. Planning for every role within the business and implementing appropriate training will only benefit the company and its green engineers. Apprentices can shadow the time-served engineers from the very start of their careers and absorb all their knowledge to continue within the business and (hopefully) stitch up part of the ever-growing skills gap.

Companies are also making a greater effort to keep hold of apprentices once trained, one of our clients gives apprentices the opportunity to interview the Directors and choose which division they want to work in! So the roles have reversed in order to keep hold of the best staff and keep them engaged and motivated. We often see engineers come to the end of their time and not be put on proper wages afterward, which leads them to look elsewhere. Just think, you now have an engineer who knows your processes inside and out. To lose all that great potential and training would be a real shame. Essentially a waste of your time and money, having trained them up. In the current situation, companies need to be doing all they can to keep their apprentices with them once they’re qualified. You never know, your next apprentice could be the next Team Leader in a few years’ time!

​Focus on Soft Skills

Now this is a good one. And we are really expecting to see this in some parts of the engineering sector. Soft skills are getting up there on the list of hiring requirements. It’ll be interesting to see if this continues to be the case and catches on more within this industry and beyond in the year to come. ​

Adapting to Automation

Automation was something generally only seen in bigger companies, but now smaller manufacturing businesses are looking to reduce the need for operators and shift to automation to improve efficiency. This is controversial though, because it costs operators their jobs.

We predict to be seeing more and more automation coming through (as we can already see it implemented in a lot of businesses and sites). Unfortunately, with this, we should also expect to see companies wanting to scale down on the engineers on site. Which means redundancies. So, not necessarily a positive engineering recruitment trend in that sense. Thankfully though there are still more jobs than engineers at the moment (again due to the skills shortage) but in this instance we can use it as a saving grace. ​

Thinking Outside the Box

We are seeing a big shift in our clients being more open-minded with their new hires. Hiring people with Forces experience or with alternate qualifications than what has been needed previously. This sort of leads on from our last point. Because, with automated warehouses pushing the boundary on salaries, manufacturing sites will find it harder to pull through good talent without thinking outside the box. And utilising alternative routes to build their teams. With that, we predict to see more in-house upskilling. Whether that be PLC training or offering HNC/HND qualifications. As sites attempt to hold onto the talent that they’ve got, as well as provide these new hires with the appropriate skills for their team.

​In Summary…

Recruiting in 2024 will see some changes in the manufacturing and engineering sector. Businesses will need to continue to adapt and go above and beyond normal hiring standards to find and attract engineers.

Something that we are keen to push in 2024 is the recruitment marketing side of hiring. Which is part of our retained /major account hiring model. As mentioned, it’s important to highlight to engineers the benefits of working at your organisation (to stand out in hand with the salary package). We’re going to be working with organisations to help increase their presence within the current and upcoming generation of engineers.​

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