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How Businesses Can Attract Engineering Talent, Lower Turnover, And Create Opportunities For Professional Development

  • by: James Boyce
  • On: 24, Apr 2023
4 min read

The Engineer has released its yearly survey into the salaries and job prospects of engineers across the UK, and it has revealed fascinating insights into the state of the engineering industry, the direction it’s going, and how businesses can hire the right talent, while retaining the talent they already have.

The survey has found that the average salary of an engineer in the UK is £57,366. Good pay is one of the main motivators for people looking to join the engineering industry, and the survey records that salaries can go as high as £150,000 at director level.

However, the survey also found that only 55% of engineers say they’re happy in their current role, so it’s clear the industry needs to make drastic improvements to retain talent.

 But before you can retain talent, you have to find it in the first place. With competition for new engineers getting more fierce each year, engineering firms have to make sure to stand out from the crowd when it comes to recruitment.

How to attract engineering talent

Increase salaries wherever possible

The survey found that the average mean salary has actually decreased since last year, and with the cost of living crisis only having worsened, talented engineers will be looking at all available options for jobs that offer more pay.

As previously mentioned, a strong salary is expected in the industry, so wherever possible companies need to be offering the most competitive salaries they can to attract new talent.

It’s clear that not everyone is, as 47% of engineers are actively looking for another job. This is an increase compared to the previous year, so engineering companies need to start focusing on staff retention if they don’t want to risk losing their top talent to rival firms.

Offer remote working

Since the pandemic, remote working has become the norm across almost every industry. Many engineering firms have embraced this, as more and more candidates are looking for it, even prioritising flexible working over salary.

To attract new talent, engineering companies will need to change with the time and offer remote working as standard, or else will see competitors absorb all new engineers entering the field.

Develop a strong brand

A strong brand is more important than ever. With new engineering companies starting up, and others diversifying into new industries, a strong brand is vital for standing out from the crowd.

Branding is what separates one business from another, makes them easily identifiable, and can make a huge difference in whether or not people decide to apply to work for them.

Shockingly, the survey revealed that 10% of engineers surveyed are considering leaving the engineering industry altogether. This is devastating news for the industry as a whole, as there is already a skills shortage hampering growth. But it is also bad for individual businesses, as it can cost around £30,000 in lost productivity to hire and train someone new.

To avoid this, engineering businesses should make staff retention a priority.

How to increase staff retention

Invest in company culture

Culture can be make or break for any business. It can help keep morale up when working on difficult projects, and for some it’s more important than salary. When considering a job move, as many engineers are, culture may well be the thing that stops them from moving on.

Because of that, engineering businesses are looking to improve their culture, building relationships between team members through social events, or running workshops to upskill other team members. This initiatives can make a place far nicer to work, and really do improve perceptions of a business.

How to increase opportunities for professional development

Increase training, mentoring, and upskilling among your engineering talent

While there are many engineering students studying STEM subjects, many of them drop out of university, or abandon an engineering career before it can even start, due to competition for roles.

Some companies are opting to invest heavily in learning and development programs to help their staff develop and grow throughout their careers, upskilling as the industry changes. This not only increases the ability of your team to work across different projects, but also increases company loyalty.

Engineers want to learn. According to an earlier survey, 86% of workers say that job training is important to them, 59% say that training would improve their job performance, and 51% believe it would improve their self-confidence.

Being given the opportunity to learn on the job is incredibly valuable in an industry like engineering, where things are changing all the time. Engineers value flexibility, progression, and job security. If you can help them become more resilient to shifts in the industry, they’ll want to stay, and will recommend you to others.

Invest in and improve opportunities for women in engineering

Women account for just 16% of junior engineers, and this number shrinks at every senior level, with just 5% of directors being female.

Getting more women into engineering would introduce a huge injection of talent into the hiring pool, so it should be a priority for more businesses to sponsor universities, offer internships, and hire women across all levels of the business.

These survey results illuminate a lot about the current state of the industry, and show areas where businesses should focus their efforts when it comes to recruitment, retention, and overall development for their engineering staff.

Read about new technologies in civil engineering, or learn why we need more women in STEM roles.

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