Over the last couple of years, recruitment companies in the UK engineering industry have experienced a sharp increase in demand for highly skilled professionals from our clients across the majority of the technical and engineering industries in which we operate. This is not normally an issue; increases in demand from clients tend to lead to longer lead times for recruitment, as we need to source more candidates, as well as generating more opportunities for us to offer contractors. Clients are frequently in need of contractors to start quickly and this can also lead to an increase in hourly rates.
Usually an increase in demand is not an issue for a recruitment company. Although 587,000 skilled workers need to be recruited into the UK engineering industry by 2017 there is one hitch. We are currently in the middle of a skills shortage. An ageing workforce, a lack of young people considering engineering degrees and laws making it tougher on non EU residents entering the UK to work, have all contributed to a lack of skilled engineering professionals in the UK at the moment.
With a skills shortage comes increased competition for the same pool of candidates from other agencies and the internal recruitment teams of clients. Coupled with the fact the majority of the UK Engineering workforce is ageing, it is becoming increasingly hard for recruitment companies operating within the engineering sector to plan for the future.
At Fircroft this skills shortage has forced us to rethink the way we operate. By putting a concerted effort into improving the service we provide our contractors, we are working hard to improve our retention rates. By keeping in regular contact with them we are able to build up good working relationships, helping to resolve any issues they may have and ensuring the move from one role to another is a seamless one.
At Fircroft we have a wealth of overseas talent that we are currently unable to place with clients due to various pieces of legislation. With such a bank of potentially suitable personnel, we are currently looking into viable ways of bringing some of the great overseas talent we have into the UK.
We have also recognised that with an ageing workforce within the engineering sector there is a definite need to bring in new, fresh faces into the industry. That is why we have started to build relationships with universities by visiting careers fairs and giving presentations at employability days. Through these activities we hope to target graduates at an early stage and encourage them to enter the engineering industry after their studies, whilst introducing them to our brand and the services that we provide.
Whilst it is safe to say that the combination of high demand from UK clients for highly skilled engineering professionals and the current skills shortage the UK is experiencing in this sector, has created a challenging climate to operate in, Fircroft has been able to turn this on its head as it tries to find new ways of finding the right candidates for our clients.