Contracting Jobs in Engineering

Recently, we looked at the intricacies of fixed term contracts – what they are and how they differ from permanent positions, the pros and the cons. Now we’re delving deeper into the world of contracting – specifically, engineering contracting – to look at some of the different positions available and determine your best options. 

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Skills shortages

First and foremost, areas within engineering that suffer from a shortage of skilled professionals usually see demand for both permanent roles and contractors.

And demand is rising. According to the most recent report from The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), which examines skills and demand within the industry, more than half of employers are experiencing difficulties in recruiting the staff they need for their businesses to expand.

Getting practical experience

According to Rebecca Gillick, a spokesperson for The IET, part of the problem stems from graduates not having enough practical experience when they leave university: “In line with previous years, graduates’ main shortfalls are their lack of practical experience, leadership skills and technical experience,” she says.

So getting that all-important first experience on your CV is more important than ever – and contracting can be a useful route to early employment. 

Metalwork and welding 

Three areas experiencing significant growth are metalwork, welding and furniture manufacturing, says Beatrice Bartlay of specialist staffing firm 2B Interface.

“Overall, demand for engineers has been rising at a steady rate,” explains Beatrice. “However, we also receive regular requests for estimators, CNC programmers, bench joiners, TIG welders – especially those welding aluminium – powder and wet sprayers and HGV drivers.”

Civil engineering roles

Civil engineer Mike Rogers FICE CEng has been watching the civil engineering jobs market for some time.

“There are many areas where skills shortages are predicted,” says Mike. “Contract engineers can plug these skills gaps through short-term placements. Additionally there are some areas where companies will seek to employ contract engineers in terms of the individual projects they have on the books – it can be beneficial to retain some roles on temporary positions because they can be released or relocated more easily.”

Mike cites CAD engineers and managers along with geotechnical managers as examples of this – as well as structural designers. “Tasks that can be easily learned are probably most suited to contract engineers,” he says. 

Working in defence

Another major growth area for contract engineers is in defence. According to The IET, more than 90% of defence employers are currently recruiting for more engineers and IT staff.

“The IET surveyed 400 cross-sector companies and the results showed that the mean number of engineering staff employed by defence companies is 689. Second place goes to the electrical engineering industry, which employs around 425 engineering staff per company on average,” explains Rebecca.

Think your next role could be contract? View current contract engineering jobs on Jobsite