Engineering and manufacturing has long been seen as a ‘traditional’ sector in terms of recruitment. With business leaders believing that a professional’s career history should align with the industry that they are applying to work within in the future.  

Due to the candidate-led market of today, the sector has seen a dramatic change in the demand for skills. The introduction of automation, coupled with an ageing workforce has meant that engineers need to be upskilled in order to gain the knowledge to work on advanced machinery. Not only that, the sector has seen the number of apprenticeships decrease, which has caused a skills gap in the market. 
As engineers that have worked in the industry for years are now reaching retirement age, businesses are needing to rethink their strategy for attracting new talent. As the talent pool shrinks, it is crucial for businesses to be able to attract top candidates, and know where to look for them. 
It is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to hire talent that have the desired employment history, due to the fact that there are fewer candidates on the market. Businesses are keen for their new starters to ‘hit the ground running’, but if they wait too long for the perfect candidate then they face putting added strain on other areas of the business. 
This, partnered with the fact that businesses aren’t willing to invest in their employees in terms of training and development, means that there is a higher turnover of staff, and a generation of engineers with only two to three years’ experience in each of their previous roles. Businesses should aim to look at candidates with differing experience, whilst considering their transferable skills and the alternative views that they could bring to the business. 

Candidates moving across roles and sectors within engineering and manufacturing

Due to the talent shortage in the market, businesses should begin to utilise talent from other areas of the industry, and target candidates who can bring more to the business and develop themselves within a role. This is because these candidates will already have an understanding of the pace of manufacturing, they are aware of how to communicate between different areas of the business, and they will have experience with different departments already. Companies like Reckitt Benckiser, Nestle, and Morrisons recommend moves internally in order for their employees to gain a broader knowledge of the business and appreciate operational issues that arise in other areas. This has been adopted by many of the blue-chip organisations who are aiming to retain their top talent who are looking to progress their career further.
However, if you are a smaller organisation and you are unable to recruit from other areas of the business, it is important that you do not maintain the mentality that candidates should have worked solely within a specific area in order to be suitable for the role. Transferable skills and experience can give the role a new dimension that it didn’t have before. 

How CVs have evolved

It is important for businesses to know what to look for throughout the entire recruitment process. If your candidate has examples of the following on their CV it is worth considering them for a role that has similar, or the same, responsibilities regardless of the sector they are applying for. 
  • Examples and figures of savings, percentages of growth, and waste management.
  • How they have improved a process, or implemented positive change to how their old business was run.
  • Examples of when they have reduced costs.
If the candidate has solid examples of previous experiences then you should discuss these in more detail during the interview. All of the above experiences can be transferred to different sectors and promote positive business growth. 
Due to the fact that the millennial workforce has shown they don’t tend to remain in one job for a prolonged period of time, it is clear that the CV that hosts a long history of employment within the same sector or business will be harder to come by in the future. Employers should expect to see an array of CVs with an employment history that jumps between industries. 
Businesses should look to adjust their outlook on recruitment now so they can attract, hire, and retain top talent as it comes into the market. There should be a focus on the candidate’s willingness to learn, adapt, and be versatile.
If you are looking to hire top talent in the engineering and manufacturing sector, please get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants today. Alternatively, why not read through our article ’10 Skills propelling engineering and manufacturing’. Where we have identified the top 10 skills organisations should be looking for.
Lauren Allanson
Managing Consultant, Michael Page Engineering & Manufacturing 
T: 0113 388 9047