Three-quarters of manufacturers struggle to find people with up to five years’ experience to fill skilled positions.
According to research by MAKE, the manufacturers' industry association (formerly the Engineering Employers Federation) in early 2020, almost two-thirds of companies said that one of their key recruitment difficulties is that applicants lack the right technical skills.
So in this type of challenging environment, how do companies find new skilled talent - particularly in Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire, where employment rates are at an all-time high?
The answer is that you need to find innovative ways to attract the best people in the first instance, and then retain them for the future.
Here are some ideas to help you encourage engineering candidates to consider working for your business.
1) Stand out from the crowd
With so many businesses vying for the attention of people with desirable technical skills, such as CNC Operators, your organisation really has to stand out. Engineering candidates are savvy about building their CVs, so are attracted to companies with a strong reputation and positive brand.
For engineering and manufacturing in particular, the larger well-known brands tend to get a higher influx of applications than smaller, unknown organisations. Here’s how you can make sure your business can stand out and attract the best engineering candidates - whatever the size of your company:
Check out the competition – looking at what your successful competitors are doing to understand how you should approach making your brand attractive to top engineering candidates. Is there a way you can go one better than them? Are they attending lots of events? Do they have a strong marketing plan in place? Do they have a good recruitment partner helping them with sourcing?
Highlight your unique selling points (USPs) – make sure you highlight what makes you different from other manufacturing / engineering companies. Is yours a family organisation with a close-knit community feeling where staff can have a strong influence? Or is it a large, global organisation with lots of opportunities to progress? Communicating your USPs to prospective engineering staff is key if you want to attract the best people.
If you clearly set out what makes you different, you can use this to attract the right candidates - those who fit in with the culture of your organisation as well as having the technical skills you need. After all, if someone is interested in working on global projects, they probably won’t fit into a small business, and vice versa.
Live by your values – by demonstrating that your organisation has strong, positive company values and that you stick to them through your policies, procedures and culture, you’ll find good people are easier to attract and retain.
2) Provide growth opportunities
If you want to be right up there with the big players in the manufacturing and engineering sectors, you will need to be prepared to offer growth opportunities to prospective employees. Contrary to popular belief, most candidates are not just looking for a good salary (although that is important!), they are also looking for companies where they can progress.
Candidates with desirable skills want opportunities to develop their career and learn new skills to add to their CVs. Although this can be challenging if you are running a small organisation, it is still important to have a clear career path for prospective candidates.
If you are restricted in what you can offer in terms of salaries, you will need to be prepared to offset this with other benefits, such as flexible working and training.
As an example, a Design Engineer may want to add electrical engineering capabilities to his or her skill set, or a senior Production Welder may want to develop management skills so they can head up a department. It is essential to offer good opportunities for new employees to encourage them to join you.
3) Consider being more flexible
Men as well as women are looking for flexible ways of working and if you can incorporate this into your employment strategy, you will have more chances of successfully filling your vacancies. For example, could you take on two part-time workers to cover a full-time role?
Engineering is still a male dominated industry. According to the Women’s Engineering Society, women make up just 12.3% of all engineers in the UK, with part of the problem being the lack of flexibility in many traditional engineering roles.
Actively encouraging more women to join your organisation is a great way to find new, quality candidates. In order to do this, you may want to look at recruiting for part-time engineering roles, as well as offering flexible working which could appeal to people wanting to continue their studies, or who have a family.
The more open you are to different ways of working, the better your prospects of hiring the best people for your organisation.
Top quality candidates with technical skills can be difficult to find, but by following these steps and ensuring you have a positive, friendly and encouraging environment, you will be able to attract the best people to join your business.
We have candidates with a range of experience in the engineering and manufacturing sectors on our books who could be ideal for your business. Please get in touch to find out if we can help you source the specific skills and attitude you need.