While Brexit may have limited the hiring pool in the engineering sector, Covid has changed the way individuals assess roles.

The engineering sector has been dealt a double blow in the past few years. First, the impending Brexit deadline led to many skilled European engineers returning to their home country. However, this was followed closely by the Covid-19 lockdowns that led many organisations to put the brakes on projects and furlough their workers.

With the furlough scheme coming to an end, recovery is slow. We can see disruptions at every stage in the recruitment process. School leavers may have delayed their university start until in-person classes resume.

Engineering graduates experienced their final year of classes online and may not have the confidence to go out into the workforce yet. In addition, those in junior roles may have relocated during the pandemic. And many senior engineers from Europe have moved back to their home countries.

Finding top talent in the engineering sector is always a challenge for recruiters, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Nolan Recruitment is one organisation leading the way in engineering and green recruitment. Taking a specialist approach to recruitment paves the way for a better understanding of the demands of an entire sector.

Finding top talent after Brexit & Covid

While Brexit may have limited the hiring pool, Covid has changed the way individuals assess roles. A year out of work has given many individuals time to consider what matters. And free fruit in the office kitchen doesn’t always cut it.

For companies to succeed in a post-Brexit and post-Covid world, they need to put employee satisfaction front and centre. Hiring has always been a two-way conversation, but the scales always tipped slightly in favour of the employer. Now, we see the scales tipped the other way.

Throughout the recruitment process, employers need to recognise the power dynamic and ensure they are selling their company’s benefits. And not just the free gym membership or dental insurance. Employers need to highlight the career progression they can offer, including training and upward mobility in the organisation.

The best talent is already working

As is always the case, it’s easier to find work when you’re in work. Individuals are never more in demand than when they are happy in their current role. Tempting talented engineers to make the switch from a comfortable position and head into the unknown is certainly no easy task.

Recruiters need to think of their feet when advertising new roles. Not only considering the applicants looking for work but the potential applicants that could be tempted to make a switch given the right circumstances.

This is where specialist recruiters are invaluable. They know the industry, and they know the people making waves within it. So when a role becomes available with a company, they already know who might be ready to take that next career step.

Working with a generic, all-of-market recruiter might yield higher vanity metrics, but it won’t translate to better results. Good recruitment is about building relationships with companies and individuals and facilitating the best introductions for everyone.

Hiring from overseas post-Brexit

Looking further afield for engineering talent might be more complex, but it certainly hasn’t been ruled out just yet. Moreover, engineers can command the kind of salaries that will pass the requirements for immigration rules, so companies needn’t limit their search to just the UK.

The current salary limit for skilled workers is £25,600, but there is the added complication that the employer will have to be a Home Office licensed sponsor. A good recruitment agency will be able to guide you through the process of securing your UK visa sponsorship accreditation so that you can take your search overseas.

However, it’s worth pointing out that applicants on a skilled worker visa will have additional costs in relocating, and these will often have to be met by the employer.

Hiring engineers after Covid-19

As the furlough scheme has now come to an end, we anticipate that many workers will be available and looking for roles. Unfortunately, they might not have the skills required for engineering roles. However, some might be in a position to begin apprenticeship training.

While this won’t solve immediate job shortages in senior roles, increasing the number of apprentice engineers could help safeguard the industry in the future. Apprentices may come from many different backgrounds and have a wealth of skills and experiences from previous roles.

Hiring apprentices is another difficult task that not all employers can manage alone. Working with a recruitment agency to help refine the initial applications and determine which ones have the drive and passion for pursuing a career in engineering can help limit time wasted by an organisation.

Closing thoughts

While Brexit and Covid-19 may have presented unique challenges for the engineering sector, they are road bumps, not roadblocks. Moreover, every problem we face over the next decade is likely to be solved by an engineer, so the future is certainly bright for the sector.

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