Features
August 29, 2017

Mind the gap...the skills deficit in engineering

Mind the gap...the skills deficit in engineering ‘The war for talent’, ‘Skills crisis’ are phrases that are widely used normally by overpaid consultants who are trying to peddle myths and sell services that go no way to solving the problem. However, the ‘gap’ between the demand for highly skilled engineers and the supply, or the number of engineers working in the discipline is huge and has negative consequences for UK PLC just as major engineering projects begin (HS2, Crossrail 2, Heathrow).

The problem is well documented, 80% of those studying engineering post grad degrees in the UK are overseas nationals, a high proportion of engineering graduates end up working outside of the profession, and increasingly employers are finding fewer children are engaged with STEM subjects for a variety of reasons.

In addition, the industry has Diversity challenge, and less young women seem to be keen to choose this path, again reasons are varied but the underlying result is a risk for the UK economy in the medium and long term, and the weakening of our heritage as a nation which has a proud engineering tradition.

As Heads of Resourcing, we see the consequences daily. Experienced professionals moving between employers, bidding wars for skills and unfilled vacancies that damage delivery and productivity. For organisations and the industries this is damaging and makes us all weaker.

This is why a number of Heads of Resourcing (from across a number of sectors) have joined together in an attempt to tackle this issue from an industry perspective. Rather than competing with each other, the time is ripe for collaboration and sharing what works and think of what is in the best interests of the sector(s) as a whole.

We passionately believe that if we improve the overall supply, we all benefit, a rising tide floats all boats. At its heart, we recognise that currently acting independently, we are actually making the problem worse, if in the short term we alleviate our own individual problems. The group exists in order to help future proof the talent supply for the medium and long term.

We aim to tell a joined up story of our industry/professions that makes sense to a wider audience and to engage with all relevant bodies (Government, Institutes, and NGOs). As Heads of Resourcing we have solid data, we are in a position where our role requires to understand and deliver key messages to these audiences and we are the recipients of great qualitative data about the experience of hiring communities and candidates and prospective candidates. The current environment demands that something is done but not in isolation.

Creating and maintaining the conditions for the next Brunel or Caroline Haslett is critical for our economy and society’s well being.

We have kicked this off in the hope we can create real momentum and sustainable action. Doing the same things we have done for the last 30 years is not the answer…
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Jon Hull is an HR and Talent Management leader with 20 years experience. He is currently the Head of Resourcing at Carillion.
POSTED BY Jon Hull, Carillion
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