The Ultimate Guide to Engineering Jobs
Engineering is crucial to the UK’s industry and an important part of the infastructure. Here at Heat, we want to give you the knowledge to succeed in the sector. We’ve curated some exclusive content for you to read to get ahead in the sector, all at the click of a button.
Chapter 1: Q2 Engineering Sector Roundup and FAQs
Chapter 2: The Skills Gap in Engineering
Chapter 3: Engineering: The Perfect CV
Chapter 4: Women in Engineering: Is enough being done to attract them?
Q2 Engineering Sector Roundup and FAQs
We are 6 months into 2017 now, so we thought we’d catch up with Steve Auburn from the Engineering team to find out about your most frequently asked questions, the state of the engineering job marketing and what’s set to change into 2018 and beyond.
What have opportunities been like in the engineering sector in the first half of 2017?
There have been lots of opportunities so far in the engineering sector but not many applications. We’re seeing the job market be very candidate driven. There are lots of people going through on the graduate schemes and lots of people becoming top engineers but we’re struggling to find anyone who is a mid-level engineer. There are lots of companies who have been going abroad to attract talent. Some have even given visas.
What do you think will happen in the second half of 2017 and into 2018?
We don’t believe that the job sector will bring bags of changes going into 2018. A lot of companies are taking their time to recruit, not least because they are struggling to find talent, but also struggling to find the right talent. The big engineering companies are leading the way with graduates, snapping them up very quickly, but the SMEs are struggling to keep up as their time and resources are stretched. There’s not enough time for these companies to train graduates up, but they are struggling to gain mid-level engineers too.
Do you foresee any major changes in your sector in the next couple of years that will affect training and recruitment in the engineering sector?
One word required. Brexit. There’s currently a lot of uncertainty regarding the engineering industry and Brexit – A lot of engineering companies will bring people to the UK for work on schemes and if we pursue a hard Brexit, it could be that these companies struggle. These big companies could, in turn, then move to Europe where freedom of movement will stay. However, for the moment, the industry is carrying on as normal, with a cautious eye on the developments on Brexit.
How much opportunity is there in the sector to keep training and CPD?
In terms of the qualifications, we’re not seeing much difference, but if you’re a graduate, you’ve got a lot of opportunities in the sector. Many big companies are hiring graduates while SMEs are struggling to find the resources and the time to train graduates up. Therefore, SMEs are struggling to find mid-level engineers in the sector. Companies still need to do more where training is concerned to build the future people of the industry.
What would you like to see more of in the applications you receive? Is there anything that jumps out at you that makes you put someone’s application straight in the shortlist pile?
We’re finding that less and less people are applying for engineering jobs, in a market that is highly saturated. 99% of the applications that we see are irrelevant or live outside of the EU, so we’d love to see more mid-level engineers applying for the jobs. People are finding and moving jobs, but they aren’t applying to many anymore.
What is the biggest skills gap in your sector in 2017?
Mid-Level Engineering. The SMEs are desperately crying out for Mid-Level Engineers and the job market is looking unlikely to change in the short term. Big companies are currently finding it easier to headhunt rather than put out a general job posting, hence why they come to recruitment agencies.
The Skills Gap in Engineering
Over the past twelve months I have picked up several mid-weight Design Engineering roles mainly in the UK SME market and I have noticed that finding good quality candidates has been getting harder.
A lot of my clients would love to have between three and five good quality applicants to interview for each role but in many cases, it has realistically been a race to secure the services of the one or two individuals that fit the role profile. A good number of these placements have been from Engineers who have come from outside of the UK which really got me thinking about the future of Engineering here in the UK post-Brexit.
I read an article recently that advised Britain’s skills shortage had worsened for the fifth consecutive year and that more than half of UK graduates were working in non-graduate roles. The skills gap has worsened by 8 percent over the past five years, it found. I am always coming across CV’s of Graduates from Mechanical Engineering Degrees who have spent the past couple of years working in a role away from engineering and they have really been struggling to secure a role to kick-start their career.
Of course, there are several reasons why this could be the case but as a nation are we investing enough time and money into Graduates and giving them the chance to succeed? Are Universities reaching out to SME’s and making sure Graduates leave University with the right skills set or are they just liaising with the larger companies and prepping these candidates for Grad Schemes? I would be interested to hear from any UK companies and their thoughts on this.
As I have seen first-hand many companies are addressing the skill gap by hiring Engineers from the EU but have they put plans in place to address this post-Brexit. Will this force an increase in wages for mid to senior level engineers leaving less financial resources to invest in those starting out their careers in Engineering?
Another article I read stated that 63% of Engineers believe the skills shortage will intensify unless major reforms are urgently instituted, an additional 1.8m engineers and technically qualified people are needed by 2025. Currently, there is around a 20,000-a-year shortfall in the number of these people being produced by Britain’s education system.
With the Elections looming I am sure every Engineering business will be anxious to find out the outcome and the potential impact the new government will have on the market.
Engineering: The Perfect CV
Writing or even just updating your CV can be a daunting challenge for some people when it comes to searching for the next career step, but then if you have the dream job in front of you, you need the make the most of every element of your CV for maximum effect.
Candidates should remember that most employers will only spend a 30 seconds looking through your CV to find something that catches their eye. Candidates should not forget that a CV is designed to sell yourself and should not be viewed as just a check list of your skills and a list of your work history.
We’ve put together our tips for writing a well-engineered CV:
1. Introduce yourself
The best CV’s will start with a good introduction about yourself, your career aspirations and a brief paragraph about your skill set.
You should also specify the main areas of your experience. Which aspect of your engineering profession are you most proficient or experienced in? You may have a specialist area you want to highlight, for example: management, product development, testing, manufacturing, quality improvement, consultancy, logistics, or research and development.
You should spend some time perfecting your CV, detailing your skills, accomplishments and your work history. However, you do not want to turn this into an essay that potential employers don’t have the time to read. Take some time to think about what really sells yourself and cut out the ‘waffle’. Are your most standout abilities and projects visible in the first 30 seconds?
3. Spelling and Grammar
Anyone reading your CV will pick up on spelling and grammar errors, put yourself in the employer’s shoes and imagine what they must think when they pick up a CV littered full of spelling mistakes. I have even seen candidates spell their own company name wrong. Get a friend or a family member to proof read it. Even better if you’re working with a good recruiter ask them for any advice, we have seen more CV’s than you can possibly imagine. Outside the usual advice, make sure industry specific terminology, buzzwords and abbreviations are up to date and accurate!
4. The layout
Spend some time thinking about how your CV is structured. Is it easy on the eye and does it read well, this attention to detail will help your CV stand out from the crowd. A CV should also be a professional document so think about the font you use. I would always put your job history in chronological order, most companies will be interested in what have been doing recently rather than the part time job in a supermarket at University. How would you present a project to a client and what does your design say about you as an applicant?
5. Know your dates
Employers will always pick up on inaccuracies in your work history and the dates on your CV. Make sure they add up and if there are any gaps then be honest. I have seen many candidates bend the truth on their CV regarding their dates of employment. This could come back to haunt you if your potential employer needs references from your previous roles.
6. Be honest
Exaggerating your skills and experience will ensure you get found out. I have seen candidates explain on their CV that they are an expert in Solidworks but when it came to the interview stage they were asked to complete a simple CAD test where they had to come clean and admit they had used it once or twice at University, you won’t be surprised to hear they didn’t get the job. Even if you do manage to get through the interview stage then you will definitely be found out when you start the job.
7. Tailor Your CV
If there is a specific role you are applying for then think about how you could tailor your CV to fit that company. Do your research on the business to ensure you are putting forward the best application possible. If you are working with a good recruiter they will have taken the time to get to know what the company are looking for, speak with them about your CV and how you can give yourself the best possible chance.
Think about what the employer is going to be looking for – take your inspiration from the job description or from other advertisements. Being a problem solver is always going to be high on the list, possibly a creative problem solver, resource planner and certainly an analytical thinker. Some roles may need you to be people-oriented, a good communicator or a strong team member.
8. Always keep your CV up to date.
Even if you are happy in your role and don’t plan on moving jobs for a while you never know what is around the corner. Also keep a track of every achievement, promotion or skills you learn in your job writing these down when they are fresh in your memory will save you time when you look for that next career move.
When it comes to CPD, employers will want to see applicants who are constantly improving and investing in themselves, so even if it was a 1 day course, make sure it’s included.
What could you of missed?
- Your high level of skills and knowledge of your discipline
- Your ability to evaluate and assess project elements within jobs or contracts.
- Your ability to work independently when required.
- Your experience in working with different kinds of bodies, including agencies, companies, public bodies, etc.
- The ability to prioritise large and complex workloads.
- Flexibility and adaptability, with the ability to respond to unexpected challenges and changes in schedules or workloads.
- On a general level, the technologies involved.
- The size of the projects you’ve managed.
- Nature of your management role.
- The size of the teams you’ve supervised.
- The scope of the project operations you were responsible for.
- Budgets, challenges and projected (and actual, if different) outcomes.
- Various agencies involved in projects.
Women in Engineering: Is enough being done to attract them?
In the engineering industry, there is a problem – only 9% of the workforce is female. Traditionally engineering isn’t perceived as a feminine role, but why not? In Bulgaria, Latvia and Cyprus women make up 30% of all engineers, which is significantly higher than the UK’s – the lowest in Europe.
So in this article we will look to answer three of the most pertinent questions when it comes to female representation within the engineering sector: Why should we care, why is the problem there, and how can this be fixed?
Why should we care?
The engineering sector is huge, it makes up 26% of the UK’s GDP and currently we rely highly on engineering talent from outside of the UK to plug the skills gap that currently exists.
But, once the Brexit negotiations are complete, there are concerns over the UK’s ability to secure the talent it needs, and will need in the future. According to latest estimates, the UK will need an additional 1.8 million engineers by 2025.
That means we will need to look closer to home for the skilled engineers we need and tap into that one source of available talent that so far has been relatively ignored – women. Failure to do so will result in an unbridgeable gap between demand and supply.
Why is there a problem?
Research has shown that from an early age women are saying no to a career in engineering, yet the path to becoming an engineer itself begins at a young age. Most industry analysts agree that more needs to be done to promote careers in engineering and all of STEM at an earlier age.
Indeed, in 2014, the Institute of Public Policy and Research published a report highlighting that “at the age of 16, a significant number of girls stop taking the science subjects necessary for an engineering career.” This, argues Ann Watson, chief executive of Semta, is why we need to start the promotional process much earlier.
She recently told The Telegraph: “We need children of primary-school age to be given the opportunity to see what a modern cutting-edge engineering workplace looks like. So many young people who have an engineering skill and aptitude are lost to the sector because they’re not given that encouragement earlier.” And she is absolutely right.
According to a study conducted by Kiwana et al, the gender imbalance in engineering is associated with the high proportion of girls stopping taking science subjects at ‘A’ level despite outperforming boys in Physics and Maths at GCSE level and – you’ve guessed – Engineering. In fact, just 21% of students studying Physics at ‘A’ level in 2015 were female.
But it isn’t just the education system that has a role to play – business does too. Take the toy industry as a case in point.
Toys and games like Lego and the increasingly popular sandbox games such as Minecraft, are products predominantly marketed at boys despite playing a key role in inspiring children to pursue a career in the industry.
How can this be fixed?
Exposing boys and girls to the possibility of engineering as highlighted above will obviously go some way to addressing the issue, but so too will the way in which we communicate the various routes of entry.
One of the strengths of engineering is that many people within the industry have learnt their craft through more vocational routes, such as an apprenticeship or BTEC. So just because a student chooses not to continue their education at ‘A’ level or beyond does not mean they should be cut off from certain careers. This leads us on to public perception.
For some, the notion of an apprenticeship is often undervalued and under appreciated by the parents of those young people who would make great future engineers. Yet recent figures show that 98% of current apprentices are happy they took this route to start their careers, with engineering employers equally enthusiastic.
Employers have a responsibility too. While work experience is encouraged within many schools, engineering companies are often reluctant to take on pupils due to health and safety concerns. But this is a missed opportunity.
The evidence clearly suggests that females seem to be rejecting a career in engineering at a young age, which by default is contributing the shortfall in suitably skilled engineers today. So we should encourage girls from an early age that engineering is not a subject to disregard, the key is to change current perceptions of the industry and show people that women can not only be a part of the engineering industry, they can (and do) thrive in it.