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Does the engineering candidate ‘have to’ have all the skills?

31/07/19 David Collins Business/Customer Development Manager

Recruitment intentions across the UK have strengthened in the second quarter when compared to the first quarter, according to the latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with Totaljobs.

The report found that 60% of UK businesses attempted to recruit new hires in the previous three months, an increase from 53% in Q1.


  • 64% of businesses struggled to find the right candidates when recruiting in Q2 – a drop from 73% in Q1.
  • 30% of employers expect to increase their workforce in the next three months, showing intentions to hire remain strong.

At the same time, the report cautioned that recruitment difficulties cannot be ignored. The percentage of firms reporting difficulties in hiring the right staff fell from 73% to 64%, although the figure remains high by historical standards.

Based on the responses of over 6,500 businesses of all sizes and sectors, the report indicates that demand for labour remained strong in the second quarter, despite a subdued economy. The proportion of UK firms attempting to recruit in the second quarter of the year rose from 53% to 60%.

The UK labour market continues to weather economic uncertainty, with the vast majority of businesses showing a continued commitment to maintaining or increasing staff headcount. Just 7% of employers expect their workforce to decrease as we head into Q3.

David Collins, Redline’s Business and Customer Development Manager comments: “In the face of sluggish growth and political uncertainty, the jobs market has been a positive for the UK economy. The quarter saw a pick-up in attempts to recruit and an easing of recruitment difficulties, although levels are high by historic standards and remain a cause for concern,” says David.

The Engineering, Technology and Manufacturing sectors continue to experience persistent and pervasive skills gaps. Technology companies need to ensure that this does not damage their productivity and global competitiveness.

Tech companies should be mindful of their employer value proposition, and ensure that while salaries remain competitive, they should consider more than just the salary as the solution to overcome skills shortages.

Engineering plays a vital role in the UK’s economic and societal wellbeing, providing quality employment on a large scale and some of the key solutions to major global challenges. In the face of technological advancements and a changing political and economic landscape, developing the candidate pipeline to address the skills needs of the engineering sector remains a key challenge.

In some cases, employers make assumptions about engineering and technical jobs and that people have to have a whole lot of engineering skills. If we look at prioritising the skills mix, rather than just looking at ‘Have you got all those engineering skills?’, it is probably much broader than you need for your role. Instead, we would ask ‘Have you got the skills for the role itself?'. Non-engineering skills can always be added to an employee's skill mix when new recruits do not have them at the point of hiring. Employers could fill some job opportunities by filling the skills gaps later.

With the impact of the fourth industrial revolution, there are clear implications for the engineering sector and the skills required. Here at Redline, we are seeing an increase in businesses approaching us as they require more of a specialist approach to achieve their hiring goals. One of the many factors which have helped us to become a leading provider of recruitment services to niche markets and specialist technology sectors is our knowledge-led approach. You wouldn’t hire a person unless they understood the job, the business and the sector. A recruiter cannot find the right candidates for a vacancy unless they understand the same aspects of technology, industry and sector.

Using Redline’s experience and expertise – together with measurement tools and competency-based interview techniques where appropriate – we find the right people for your vacancies. Even a highly capable candidate will become highly ineffective if the fit is not right. Our role is to optimise the fit and minimise the risk.

Our clients are amongst UK's and Europe's most successful and exciting engineering, technology and scientific businesses. In such demanding and fast-moving environments, our knowledge-led approach and 35 years’ experience enables us to create uniquely tailored, highly effective recruitment solutions.”

To find out more about how we can help your business, please contact our dedicated Business & Customer Development Manager David Collins on 01582 878804 or email