The engineering skills shortage in the UK is a concern for the government and the engineering sector as a whole. Although there is available labour in the marketplace, the skill set of this labour pool is not sufficient to close the gap, creating a serious disparity between the key skills employers are looking for in engineers and those being offered by potential employees.

Despite a number of public sector and private enterprise initiatives being put into place to try and reverse the declining numbers entering the engineering job market, companies need to tackle the problem in the here and now. While some global enterprises are investing serious time and expense into attracting a young audience into their ranks by subsidising and sponsoring STEM education and apprenticeships, smaller businesses don’t have the cash flow to devote to this long-term approach.

We’ve put together a 3-point plan for you to address this growing skills gap and cultivate an engineering team that will grow and develop with you.

Master the interview process

Reviewing your interview objectives may open up your selection criteria to a whole raft of candidates who might previously have slipped through the net. While their qualifications are obviously important, of equal value is their mindset, their ambition, and their overall attitude.

During the hiring process, you can get too caught up in box-ticking. If a candidate shows initiative, ambition, and a passion for learning, then any gaps in their skills and knowledge can be filled over time through in-job training and additional home studying. The more you encourage and support your workforce in improving their skills and giving them the opportunity to shine in a role, the more likely they are to stay and progress with you.

Assessing your candidates’ technical skills is a small part of the overall interviewing process. Don’t put them off with a tech test in the first round of interviews, and don’t be put off if their skills don’t come back as perfect. Skills don’t fall within the ‘all or nothing’ remit – skills can be honed. Attitude is key.

Review your offering

Attracting candidates in today’s market is about far more than pay. A good salary is obviously important, but since covid, flexibility in the workplace is the number one criterion for employee benefits.

Potential employees are more sensitive to maintaining a good work-life balance. Although many engineering jobs require sticking to specific shift patterns, creating those shift patterns needs to take into account individual circumstances.

On top of that, there is a raft of product offerings designed to help organisations streamline their employee benefits packages. For example, while occupational therapy is a crucial part of health and safety, an Employee Assistance Programme will often include so much more – private doctor and dentist appointments, wellbeing initiatives, access to therapists and counsellors, and even shopping discounts and entertainment vouchers.

Train to retain

Studies have highlighted that the employees who truly thrive are those who feel as though they are progressing in their career, who are learning, and who feel valued. Engineers are no different. Their key skills may have attracted you to them in the first place, but those skills need to be developed and nurtured and used to greater advantage further up the ladder.

When interviewing, your candidate will want to know that there is a future for them, and part of that future may involve them learning more, getting more qualifications, and bringing more skills and knowledge into the business. The more you can do this in partnership with them, the better you will be able to retain their skills for the longer term.

Are you recruiting your next Engineer? BMS Performance can help, upload your vacancy today!