Engineering & manufacturing: the challenges in attracting top talent

The candidate-led market has created challenges across many sectors when it comes to attracting top talent. Before you are able to host an interview, you have to appeal to the types of candidates’ that you are looking for, and it is becoming more and more crucial for businesses to improve their brand reputation.
This article discusses the challenges that the engineering and manufacturing sector faces when attempting to hire top talent in a candidate-short market.

Developments in recruitment

The requirements for new hires has adapted over recent years in the sector, with businesses shifting to focus towards succession planning and developing ‘future leaders’ from their new hires. With the baby boomer generation now approaching retirement age, finding and attracting suitable talent to replace them has become difficult. In order to tackle these issues, businesses are placing greater importance on cultural fit and how they can develop potential employees, rather than focusing largely on technical fit. This can be further demonstrated by the increased use of personality testing as part of the interview process.
Therefore, the expectations that come from the ‘ideal candidate’ have also changed. By focusing more on the growth potential of a candidate, businesses feel that they can mould professionals’ into their ideal candidate.

The challenges

Due to the continuously changing landscape in the engineering and manufacturing sectors, it is easy to understand why there may be some challenges when recruiting for top talent. Some positions are more difficult to hire for than others, and businesses should take this into consideration before recruiting for these roles. 
Technical engineering roles, such as design and maintenance have become increasingly difficult to hire for. Over the last couple of decades, the lack of apprenticeships and training schemes have caused a decrease in the candidate pool. Because of this, businesses are over paying for skill sets or are focusing on cultural fit in order to develop candidates in the future.
There are many changes happening in the UK at the moment, with movements in gender equality being high on the agenda and the ever-looming Brexit causing severe uncertainty. The lack of clarity in the market is affecting both businesses and candidates’ alike. With manufacturers reluctant to hire and candidates’ reluctant to be a new member of a team.
Organisations are beginning to recognise the value in hiring a professional with the foundations of the role, who can develop the role, and themselves further within the business.

Closing the talent gap in engineering and manufacturing organisations

To begin to close the talent gap, organisations are starting to invest in their people. This means that businesses are investing further in apprenticeships and partnering with universities to appeal to top candidates whilst they are still developing their skills. Businesses are understanding the importance of balancing long and short-term goals, particularly in areas that have the greatest talent shortages.

Appealing to millennial talent

Due to the fact that organisations are looking to target the generations that are due to be graduating from university, they will need to adapt their business models if they are serious about attracting the best. Most millennial workers have differing requirements from the workplace than their predecessors. The remuneration needs to be right, the commute not too long, with a great working environment. Not to mention the increased importance of a good work-life balance, great facilities, and progression opportunities within the business. 
Be sure to consider your business model and how attractive you are to millennial workers. Millennial workers are the future leaders of our country, so it is crucial for businesses to adapt with the times as this will ensure that the gaps in their teams are minimal, and that retention rates don’t rise.
If you are looking to recruit for top talent in your sector please get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants today. Alternatively, we have put together a list of the ’10 Skills propelling engineering and manufacturing forward in 2019’ that can help you to identify the skills you should be looking for in new hires. 
Rob Burke
Managing Consultant, Michael Page Engineering & Manufacturing 
T: 0121 230 9472