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1st Dec, 2021

Kimberly Hunsdon
Kimberly Hunsdon
Job Title
Senior Area Manager

Increased demand for talent

Over the past year, both the engineering and manufacturing job markets have seen a substantial rise in vacancies.

This is a result of an ageing workforce leaving the sector and many workers from overseas leaving the UK and not returning due to the pandemic and changing visa rules. While this has disrupted the workforce, it has also created significant demand for talent in senior positions, as employers look to consolidate their leadership teams.

Although the need for new talent provides career progression opportunities for new entrants to the sector, the marketplace is unprecedently sparse – with professionals generally choosing the certainty of their current role over the uncertainty of a changing market.

Consequently, businesses are focusing their attention on finding innovative ways to ensure their employer brand and compensation packages are attractive to the few prospective candidates available, including increases in salaries for some roles. For instance, production engineers’ salaries have increased across nine regions in the UK and remained stable in the other three, with these roles in Wales seeing the largest average growth (11.4%) in the past year.

New opportunities in the sector

Last year, the engineering and manufacturing industries were faced with a lot of new challenges. Not only did the pandemic led to companies pivoting to produce PPE, Covid-19 vaccine equipment, and manufacturing ventilators to help battle the coronavirus, but the government also announced its plans for the UK to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The demand shift is evident in changes to average salaries for environmental health and safety (EHS) engineers, with salaries for this role increasing in 11 out of 12 regions as companies look to implement net-zero plans. The East Midlands saw salaries for this position grow by 11.4%, they were up 12.5% in the North West, and they increased by 14.8% in Wales.

The rising use of technology in both sectors and the lack of professionals available due to the pre-existing skills shortage, combined with the shift in experience and knowledge needed to now progress in these new verticals, has exacerbated the lack of available professionals within the industry.

However, both industries have worked particularly hard over the past year to introduce new initiatives, such as investing in apprenticeship schemes and employee development and training, to help ease this issue in the future, while spreading awareness of opportunities available in the sector to encourage new talent.

For professionals who are looking for a new role in these sectors, now is the perfect time to look, as the market is saturated with opportunities. Employers are becoming more flexible on the experience and skills needed by applicants as more vacancies are becoming available.

Additional benefits are vital

This year, the biggest challenge for engineering and manufacturing businesses will be attracting and retaining talent. With a dearth of qualified professionals available on the job market, businesses must find a new way to entice candidates and fill vacancies.

We conducted a snap survey of over 500 professionals at the end of 2021 to discover their preferred benefits. It revealed that annual leave was unsurprisingly the most desired benefit by employees, with two-thirds of respondents stating that they find it an attractive perk - suggesting that offering increased annual leave allowances is a good incentive to entice talent.

Likewise, the survey found health insurance was also highly ranked, with just over half of respondents listing it in their top-five desirable benefits, along with a performance bonus, annual salary increments and a higher-than-normal pension.

Companies will need to assess their benefit offerings in the coming year if they want to attract the best workforce from the limited talent pool. Adding additional perks to a candidate’s package is becoming an increasingly popular way to do so and will be paramount in ensuring a business’ growth in a post-pandemic market.

For more information on the engineering and manufacturing sectors recruitment market, download our free 2024 engineering and manufacturing salary guide today.