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Engineers’ Survey 2020: The Results

  • by: Gary Taylor
  • On: 18, Feb 2020
3 min read

The results are in from VHR’s 2020 Engineers’ Survey!

VHR surveyed 5,000 engineers from around the world about their jobs and careers, their experiences finding work and and what they want from potential employers and recruitment agencies.

Top Results: What Engineers Want From a New Job

Difficulty Finding a Job – 28% of respondents found it difficult to find a new job last year, with only one third (34%) saying that they actively found it easy. This figure may be surprising when considering the skills shortages affecting industries around the world. Many companies and sectors are struggling to grow their workforces fast enough – Aviation businesses will need to recruit over 750,000 new engineers and technicians in the next 20 years, and the UK Automotive sector will need 1.8 million more technical workers by 2025.

Biggest Barriers to Finding a Job

In 2019, the top five obstacles to employment were:

  • Qualifications & Licenses – Many engineers and technicians, particularly those working in Aviation and industries where safety is critical, need to obtain and continually maintain specific type ratings in order to apply for new roles. Additional qualifications and certifications are often required to work in different places around the world, and proving recency on aircraft and projects can be challenging.


  • Connections – Opportunities to network and connect with industry leaders can depend on shift patterns, working hours, locations and available time between contracts. Respondents wanted more chances to meet peers and senior leaders in their industry, and more time to build relationships with recruiters.


  • Right to Work – Many candidates are prevented from accessing new opportunities due to their location, and the visa or work permit restrictions either in their home countries or in the countries to which they want to relocate.


  • Lack of roles available – Legislation is affecting the short-term hiring strategies of businesses large and small: the extension of IR35 in April 2020 is increasing responsibilities of employers, who may make changes to their workforce planning and the jobs that they offer to self-employed individuals and contractors. Brexit is causing further confusion and caution around industry investment in the UK and Europe, with knock-on effects to the workforce.


  • Salary/wages – Many contractors and permanent workers would like to see higher salaries across the board, and would welcome more opportunities to negotiate salaries and pay rates.


Most Important Factors When Looking for a New Job

Surprisingly, for the majority of respondents, money wasn’t the most pressing issue when it came to finding a new job.

Although salary was the second most important factor for jobseekers, ‘working for a good company’ was the number one attraction to a new role. Engineers stated that they prioritise joining a company with a positive and ethical brand, that looks after and truly cares about its staff and operates an inclusive and collaborative culture.

The third most important factor was the opportunity to learn new skills, with 35% of respondents rating this as ‘very important’ in a new role. Working hours came a close fourth, with the trend for flexible working and autonomous schedules increasing popular in the Engineering and technical sectors, with job location and opportunity to travel rated as the least important factors.

Best Methods of Finding a Job

Job boards are overwhelmingly popular with jobseekers, with over one in three (37%) having found work through job boards last year. Almost one in four (23%) used recruitment agencies, 21% found contracts through referrals and just 18% found work directly with employers.

The vast majority of technicians are looking at upskilling to future-proof their careers – 72% said that they are looking to improve their existing skills or add new abilities to their skillset in 2020.

How Recruitment Companies Can Best Help You

34% of survey respondents said that the most important factor for applicants is that your staffing agency has expertise in your role, responsibilities and market. Partnering with a recruitment company that specialises in your industry will give you an advantage over other jobseekers. Specialist recruiters spend every day talking to clients and candidates in your industry – they know what’s going on in your field, what businesses are looking for and what will separate you from other jobseekers. Specialist recruiters will have a deeper understanding of how the candidate’s industry works and can provide insight into new trends.

The second most important factor in the survey was communication with their recruitment consultant: 23% of candidates most value help with interview preparation and communication throughout their place in the recruitment process. VHR prioritises communication with our candidates, and will look to continue providing support, feedback, and coaching through the interview process and beyond.


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