How to survive the skills shortage amidst the uncertainty of our times
It is common knowledge that there is skills shortage within the UK, with some reports having the industry short of 20,000 annually according Engineering UK’s 2017 State of Engineering Report. Although there are some positives to the report, particularly in the increase in engineering related apprenticeships, degrees in engineering and technology and the popularity of STEM subjects for 11-16 year olds is increasing. As an industry, there are great strides being made with many organisations including Mattinson Partnership, to popularise these subjects at school and college level.
One of the main issues within the construction and related industries is the lack of experienced professionals at the mid to senior level due to the industry crash in 2008. The demand for skills were at an all-time low and people moved sectors, retired, or emigrated to the booming markets in the Middle East, Australia. These people were often not at risk, but worried by the tumultuous nature of the sector. The biggest issue however, was the lack of apprentice and graduate opportunities available as companies reduced their intakes or students didn’t take construction related courses, meaning that only today are we now feeling a pinch for candidates with that level of experience. It is now estimated that the UK will lose 700,000 construction professionals in the next 10 years and there will be competition for those remaining amongst employers.
This skills shortage, if further exacerbated by the uncertainties over immigration, would predominantly impact the current Tier 2 scheme where it was revealed 6,000 visas where refused between December 2017 and March 2018. This cap encompassed 3,500 engineering, IT, technology, STEM teaching and medical roles. This included workers who are on the Shortage Occupation List as well as those that have gone through the lengthy process and fulfilled all criteria. Secondly there is also the current uncertainty over future visas for EU citizens, which in some sectors is creating either a flight risk or preventing people from joining.
What can companies do to assuage these factors?
- Have a strong retention plan and engagement at all levels. With churn rates across the sector at around 15%, this outweighs most businesses growth plans for 2018
- Make sure your brand and opportunity stands out in a competitive marketplace
- Ensure salaries, packages and terms are competitive to their specific market and location
- Align your current vacancies with future opportunities so applicants have the chance to demonstrate capability early on
- Be open to encompassing transferable skills and industries for all roles, particularly in niche areas or geographies
- Have a prompt recruitment process for when talent becomes available
With several decades of recruitment experience from industry, in-house and agency backgrounds, Mattinson Partnership are keen to discuss with business how they are looking to assuage the skills shortage over the next few years.
I joined Mattinson Partnership from Atkins where I looked after recruitment across several disciplines for a multi-billion pound Nuclear project and then several Civil Engineering Practices across the Water, Maritime, Geotechnical and Tunnelling Sectors primarily. Prior to that, I have over ten years' experience working across engineering recruitment for executive search firms in a variety of niche disciplines in the UK and Internationally across Civil Engineering, Building Services and Energy. I now look after operations in the Midlands and North West overseeing all disciplines. I have a BA (Hons) in Classical Studies from The University of Manchester and spend most of my holidays taking my wife around historical sites, as long as there is good weather and restaurants nearby.