Sponsored content: The verdict is in on the future of engineering recruitment

The world of work is ever-changing, and the engineering sector is no exception.


Hays, leading specialist in workforce solutions and recruitment, recently published the Future of Engineering survey 2023 in partnership with The Engineer, which reveals all about how things currently stand in the industry and what to expect going forward.

The research, which received over 300 responses from engineering professionals and employers, demonstrates the challenges employers are facing today when it comes to hiring talent, the importance of career progression, the issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion within the sector and much more.

Skill shortages are here to stay

As the survey confirms, the skills gap continues to impact engineering employers; majority (95 per cent) of those hiring new staff say they are experiencing skills shortages and one in five (21 per cent) describe the shortages as extreme.

One way to combat the skills crisis is to reach out to talent across the globe and 40 per cent of employers say they already recruit engineers from overseas, whilst almost a third (32 per cent) say they don’t currently but would be open to doing so. Some of the top reasons employers don’t recruit engineers from overseas are the cost of visas and sponsorship (36 per cent), the additional admin and paperwork it entails (31 per cent) and a lack of resource to market jobs for overseas workers (14 per cent).

Concerns over a lack of career progression

Organisations that provide valuable training and development opportunities and outline clear career progression pathways stand in good stead for attracting and retaining talent today. However, more than a quarter (28 per cent) of engineers say there isn’t scope for career progression at their organisation.

Engineers cited several different ways their employer supports their career progression and professional development which illustrates a step in the right direction when it comes to making career progression a priority. Majority of professionals are granted access to online learning (64 per cent), over half (55 per cent) are allowed time to attend webinars and conferences, 43 per cent of engineers are given access to training funds for off-site training and over a third (36 per cent) are offered mentor schemes.


It’s also important for professionals to have specified responsibilities, to contribute to their sense of purpose both personally and within the company as a whole. Much of the responsibility to ensure these responsibilities are clear lies with managers; as it stands, over half (58 per cent) of engineers say their manager has clearly defined their responsibilities and how they contribute to the success of the organisation. Less optimistically, a quarter (25 per cent) say they haven’t had this clarified by their manager.

Looking at the industry more broadly, a quarter (25 per cent) of professionals don’t believe the industry has options for sufficient career progression whereas, more promisingly, 75 per cent of engineers say they believe the engineering sector offers sufficient career progression for the next generation of talent.

Building a diverse and authentic workforce  

Having a diverse workforce, where professionals of different genders, ages and sexualities feel comfortable to be their authentic self, is crucial for success across all industries, including engineering. However, as the responses to the survey demonstrate, there is a lack of women in the engineering sector. 86 per cent of respondents were male, whilst 12 per cent were female, which is a slight improvement from last year, when 92 per cent were male and 7 per cent were female. Some employers are seeking to rectify this, as over half (55 per cent) say their organisation is taking action to address the lack of women entering, and progressing their careers in, engineering.

Almost two thirds (62 per cent) of employers say they agree that their organisation is proactively taking action to attract and hire more diverse talent. Organisations cite many different methods they are utilising to attract diverse candidates from a variety of backgrounds; 60 per cent offer flexible working arrangements, almost a third (31 per cent) offer remote working roles so they can access more diverse talent in other geographical locations and nearly a quarter (24 per cent) analyse job application data to understand which advertising channels produce a diverse mix of applicants.  

Whilst nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of employers agree that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed within their organisation, employers acknowledge that there are a number of groups who they don’t have equal opportunity, including those with differing ethnic backgrounds (44 per cent), those over the age of 50 (40 per cent), women (38 per cent) and those who have a disability (24 per cent). Although there is much progress still to be made, the research found that some employers are moving in the right direction, as they work with different organisations to support the recruitment of diverse talent, from government backed skills programmes (23 per cent) to ex-service personnel programs (16 per cent).

On a positive note, most (83 per cent) employers say their organisation has a diverse range of ages and over a third (37 per cent) of employers say their organisation is proactively hiring professionals over the age of 50. For engineers, the most important factors for them when considering a role over the age of 50 would be flexible working opportunities (61 per cent), health insurance (27 per cent) and retirement planning (27 per cent).

Ultimately, the engineering sector will benefit from more diverse talent pools who are encouraged to tap into their potential through learning and development, as creativity, collaboration, innovation and success are made possible by a wide range of engineers from all different backgrounds, who are given equal opportunities to progress their careers and thrive.