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Negotiate to secure top Engineering and R&D Talent

15/03/18 Kristian Barnard Consultant, R&D and Engineering

With ongoing skills shortages in the industry, it’s vital that engineering organisations are able to attract the top talent. It comes as no surprise that engineering candidates can get away with being a little choosy when it comes to prospective job offers. Data from CV-Library has revealed that 75.9% of engineers have high job expectations and a further 73.4% have negotiated on a job offer with a potential employer.

In the UK, the engineering sector generated 25% of the total UK GDP in 2015 (£420.5 Billion). To keep pace with demand, 203,000 people with Level 3+ engineering skills will be required per year through to 2024. It has been estimated that 79,000 ‘engineering related’ job roles will be required with mixed applications of engineering and technical knowledge and expertise alongside other skill sets to be filled every year to 2024.

In the UK, the number of engineering companies grew by 6% between 2015 to 2016, with 25% of registered enterprises in the UK’s engineering and R&D sector. The most positive projection of graduates entering into engineering is still 20,000 fewer than needed increasing the shortfall of up to 56,000 engineering candidates to meeting the annual demand for 124,000 core engineering roles requiring Level 3+ skills.

A recent report revealed salaries across the engineering sector vary by £14,407, with electronics engineers topping the scale at £47,394 and environment professionals earning the least at £32,987. Engineering UK’s annual report, ‘State of Engineering 2018’, shows that all engineering salaries are comfortably higher than the national median wage of £28,213.

Electrical Engineers saw their salaries jump 3.5% to reach £44,696 and Electronic Engineers’ salaries soared 14.4% to hit £47,394.

The reason for the general uplift in engineering salaries appears to be a lack of qualified candidates, according to the research. However real wages across the UK are falling as a result of poor productivity and the knock-on effects of leaving the EU.

 “Across the years, the report’s key message has remained largely the same: the engineering sector is of vital importance to the UK, yet demand for people with engineering skills is not being met by supply through the UK education pipeline” wrote Royal Academy of Engineering president Ann Dowling in a foreword to the report.

We asked Kristian Barnard, Redline Engineering and R&D Recruitment Consultant, his thoughts on recruiting the best-skilled engineering talent and how our clients are using our knowledge-led approach.  “46% of engineering employers surveyed reported recruitment difficulties with 61% of businesses surveyed in the IET report expressed uncertainty in finding enough people available with the necessary skills to fill high-skilled engineering jobs and design vacancies.” says Kristian.

“At Redline, our clients understand engineers are increasingly difficult to secure, and when we identify the right one, we often find several employers competing to secure the candidate.”

There are some important areas we encourage our clients to consider and potential highlight when negotiating with highly sought after engineering candidates during the hiring process:

Flexible paths to career growth

Career growth in engineering doesn't necessarily have to follow a linear progression across the company hierarchy.

Access to modern design tools


How many master chefs are willing to work with dull knives? How many drivers in last year's Le Mans competed in a 1985 Fiat 500? You can't expect exceptional results out of an engineer if they're given rudimentary or broken tools. You might get lucky, but one day that luck will run out the door (probably along with the team).

"Every software developer I've interviewed loves playing with flashy new technologies. It was Perl and HTML in the mid-90s, ASP, PHP and Java in the late-90s, ASP.NET and XML a few years ago, and today it’s AJAX and Ruby (and in some circles ASP.NET 2.0). Giving someone a chance to use these toys will fulfill that piece inside of them that needs to learn."

If you're able, allow the experts to choose which tools they'd like to use to get the job done as effectively as possible.

Salary

Salary is the number one negotiation point for engineering professionals, with 86.1% surveyed expressing this was the most important factor. Be sure to outline the salary bracket in your job description as this can help to avoid you getting caught in an awkward negotiation later on. It is also helpful to check out what your competitors are offering.

Benefits

Benefits are a great way to reward employees’ hard work and encourage loyalty. They are also an important negotiation factor. Make sure you include the benefits you offer and highlight them during interviews. Best of all, these do not have to be expensive – a half day now and again or a few local discounts can have a surprising impact.

Working hours

Everyone wants a good work-life balance. CV Library reported that 44.3% would negotiate on this, making it a priority for you as an employer. Employers should ensure that they are not running their employees into the ground.  We encourage promoting company culture in a positive light during the recruitment process and offer flexible working.

Holiday allowance

Make sure you have a fair holiday allowance as this is something that 39.2% of engineering candidates would negotiate on. Most companies will have a standard package but more holiday can be added as an extra perk or reward.

Flexible working

Flexible working has been a hot topic for conversation in the last 5 years with the rising Gig economy. It can be great for enabling employees to fit their lives around work. It’s also great for increasing staff retention and productivity. Nowadays more workers are expecting flexible working arrangements and 32.9% of engineers said they would negotiate on this area.

A meaningful mission

Most great engineers are interested in working on solving big problems, and seeing the results of their hard work. When I’ve interviewed engineers and they’ve shared their thoughts, during the engineering recruitment process, nearly everyone always says “It's satisfying to see the work I've created out in the world used by many people." Even the most menial tasks often have a great impact.

"In summary, if your competitors are offering better career options and overall packages, it is likely that they will secure top talent” says Kristian. “Offering your staff a great and fair career package is crucial and will have a knock-on effect in boosting staff retention, create more loyalty and encourage dedication. Inevitably, this will make your business more productive and profitable in the long term.”

For further information on Engineering Recruitment and R&D jobs in high technology and electronics environments, please contact Kristian Barnard on 01582 878839 or send an email to KBarnard@RedlineGroup.com