Currently the demand for skilled engineers is far greater than the number entering the industry. It’s forecast that 186,000 people with engineering skills are needed annually.

Why is there a skills shortage?
A number of reasons. Too few trainees are coming through the education system for start. Uncertainty around Brexit has reduced the number of skilled engineers from the EU coming to work in the UK. Plus fast accelerating technology development combined with the length of time it takes to fully train qualified engineers means it’s impossible to fill the engineering skills gap and shortages in the short term.

Engineering UK suggests 5 ways in which we can address the shortfall of engineers:
1. Increase the supply pipeline of engineers from education
2. Increase diversity
3. Increase the supply of skills through the workforce
4. Maintaining the international dimension
5. Industrial Strategy

At Hemlow we’re addressing all of these areas , but key to our recent recruitment success has been looking at how we increase the skills of our workforce.

Developing existing talent is often the more effective way of solving recruitment problems. Increasing employees’ skills and offering career progression, along with a framework of good management, leadership, support and strong teams, allows us to grow and retain existing engineers.

Another important move for us has been looking at bringing in employees from other industry sectors and developing this ‘home-grown’ talent. Being a great Hemlow engineer is not just about having the right industry qualifications and experience. These may be essential in some cases but doesn’t necessarily mean getting a good fit for the company. We need solid, reliable career-minded people who are willing to learn. Punctuality, a good work ethic, putting effort in, good energy, a good attitude, being easily coachable, being prepared and being prepared to go the extra mile are the ‘vertical talents’ – core skills from across all industries that we look for when considering someone for our Career Start programme.

Career Start gives people the opportunity to change careers and retrain as an engineer. It focuses on the skills necessary for a specific job role – concentrating on internal task oriented knowledge and behaviour training, while offering the opportunity for external vocational training. An initial induction, an internal and external training programme, field based experience and mentorship are all part of a trainee engineer ‘passport’.

We currently have several people on our Career Start programme, all of whom heard about it by word of mouth – our existing employees are our greatest advocates for attracting new talent. Printer, offshore diver and restaurant manager – these are just some of the previous careers of our trainee engineers.  James, previously an offshore diver gives us his view on the Career Start programme in his blog – read it here.

People continue to be our most important asset at Hemlow – and finding and retaining the best talent remains our priority as a business. We’re in no rush though. “Never recruit in a hurry” says Ashleigh Brown, Consultant to the FM Sector and BIFM Non-Exec Board Deputy Chairman, and we agree. The skills shortage is an urgent problem facing our sector, but with patience and a focus on finding and investing in the very best people for the long haul, we’re confident we can solve it.