Why reskilled engineering candidates could be an untapped mine of recruitment gold

Recruitment Strategies
1_Recruiting for Engineering Roles_960x720_B2C blog 767x130

At least 182,000 people with engineering skills will be needed each year, until 2022, says EngineeringUK.

But supply isn’t meeting demand. In fact, there’s a significant UK engineering skills shortage, which is partly due to issues with getting enough young people interested in STEM subjects.

Our recent engineering skills whitepaper  showed that seven in 10 recruiters found it difficult to source candidates with the right work experience, while three in four believed it was difficult to find candidates with the right skill level.

However, we also found that talent could be found if recruiters knew where to look. More than half of the engineers we polled were looking for a new job, while four in 10 wanted to explore roles that came up.

Our research indicates that there is talent out there, although the pool will narrow until we get more young people interested in STEM subjects.

Why reskilling could be the answer

Although engineering jobs tend to require certain skills and experience, the whitepaper suggests employers might need to be more flexible in terms of the type of people they hire.

Our research suggests that they should look at reskilled jobseekers in particular – a fifth of the candidates we polled said that they had reskilled from other careers into their current engineering role.

Reskilling could also make a difference when it comes to the effect of automation, which we explored in a seperate whitepaper. Many respondents believed that up-skilling would future-proof their careers.

“Employers need to embrace the idea of a reskilled workforce,” said Stephanie Fernandes, Skills and Development Lead at the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

“Technology will continue to transform jobs and the skills needed in our modern global world. It’s important that we all keep up-to-date with these changes so that we’re not left behind.”


Reskilled jobseekers from different engineering disciplines

There are many different engineering disciplines, which means engineers at the start of their career have a lot of choice in terms of their specialism – civil, mechanical and aeronautical are just three examples. Yet these disciplines can be very different in terms of what they learn and practice, so it becomes more challenging to switch the further they go in their careers.

At an early stage, it’s comparatively easy to switch fields, especially if some of the core concepts of the disciplines they’re switching to and from are similar – civil to aerospace or mechanical engineering for example. But candidates won’t find it so easy once they’ve built industry knowledge in one field and have started working in senior positions because of that experience, as they might need to start in more junior, less well-paid positions.

Yet there are commonalities between engineering disciplines and the common experience in understanding systems and figuring out how they work. If an employer is working with jobseekers who have switched engineering disciplines, they must make sure that they have knowledge and experience of the new discipline as well as, if necessary, the desire to learn!

Reskilled jobseekers from outside engineering

It’s never too late to move into any industry, and employers may receive CVs that are from candidates who haven’t gone down the traditional university path.  Employers are aware that engineering is a career with more demand than supply, so they should make allowances in terms of job specifications. They should also consider soft skills, and the fact candidates may be more reliable and dedicated if they’ve made the decision to go into engineering later in life.

Here are ways to approach the recruitment of reskilled candidates.

  • A pre-requisite of becoming an engineer is a knowledge and interest in maths and science, so ensure this as a minimum!
  • They might not have an engineering-specific degree – it’s becoming more common for people to choose the apprenticeship route, earning while they work.
  • They should have done research! With the number of available engineering disciplines, they must make sure they read up and at least found out what it involves to become the type they’ve chosen.
  • The jobseekers should have spoken to engineers – if possible, people doing the disciplines they’re interested in or applying for. This will truly provide a picture of what life will be like.
  • They should have some practical experience. This may have been difficult if they’re already employed, but there’s nothing like being an engineer in practice that learning the theory can’t replicate.

Careers don’t stay still in the modern world, and it’s not unheard of for an individual to make multiple vocation changes throughout a career. In engineering this can be more challenging than other careers due to the type of knowledge needed, but it isn’t impossible.

Consider that even engineers comfortable in long-term roles are looking to upskill, and recruiters should understand how reskilled candidates who may not have walked the traditional engineering career path could be very attractive new hires.

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