As the UK’s engineering sector wrestles with an ageing workforce profile, it’s estimated that an additional 200,000 skilled workers are needed. This causes a big headache for recruiters at a time when there’s already a chronic skills shortage.

To put this in context, Bain & Co, reported recently that 73% of engineering and R&D-focused (ER&D) companies report significant talent gaps.

There’s no magic fix, but by adopting a more strategic approach to talent acquisition, engineering firms can begin to tackle this problem.

Assessing the landscape to uncover potential new pockets of labour

As a starting point, it makes sense to look at the current engineering landscape. The Engineering Council published some helpful data, revealing that 5.5 million people are currently employed in the engineering and manufacturing sectors. That’s 18% of the UK’s workforce!

This is a significant talent pool, but finding the right individual with the skill set required for a specific vacancy can sometimes feel like you’re searching for a needle in a haystack.

Skills shortage - female engineers

One of the big challenges is that these roles often require specific experience or qualifications. This might typically include project management, problem solving, and increasingly strong digital skills.

What’s instructive, when you stary to dig into the report, is that there are opportunities to broaden the scope of your search for talent. For instance, what jumps out is that there’s a real need to attract a younger, more diverse workforce.

Leveraging your DEI credentials

The retiring, baby boomer generation is inevitable. Business leaders need to find new ways to attract new pockets of labour to address the skills gap that is hampering future growth.

Progressive engineering firms really embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and, in doing so, attract candidates from minority backgrounds who tend to be underrepresented when you begin to analyse the demographics of the sector.

It’s still staggering that women account for just 16.5% of the total workforce across the entire industry. Despite 25% more females than males in engineering have a degree. It’s important that companies communicate to female candidates that engineering can be a highly rewarding career.

There’s still a very low percentage of engineers from minority ethnic backgrounds that could be another source of engineering talent with a more targeted approach.

Engineering skills shortage

Finally, the sector also needs to work out how to bring younger people into engineering. A good place to start is engaging with children as they begin to think about their future careers. The more they know about what engineers do, the more likely they are to perceive the profession positively.

It’s largely about pulling back the curtain to showcase what they might expect from a career in engineering. Developing your employer brand to convey what you stand for from a DEI perspective is a good place to begin.

At The Outsourced Recruitment Company, we understand this sector well. Working closely with our clients, we’re fully aligned when it comes to identifying the right candidates with the skill set for your business. It takes some work on both sides, but we believe our subscription model is best suited to generate recruitment breakthroughs.