Comment: Salaries are just one part of the engineering package

Engineering and manufacturing companies must re-think their approach to recruitment if they are to profit from the opportunities that lay ahead, says Kimberly Hunsdon, engineering and manufacturing recruitment expert at Reed.

There has never been a better time to be working in the engineering and manufacturing sector.

From analysis of 6.6 million jobs posted on over the last three years, it’s clear that engineering and manufacturing professionals are in high demand. With advancements in technology and in the increased focus on STEM industries as a whole, we are seeing more and more companies looking for engineers to keep up with the pace of innovation.

Our salary data demonstrates which jobs are in demand. Some specific engineering roles have seen a large increase in salary; for example, salaries of electronics engineers have increased by nearly 26 per cent. Process engineer roles rose 22.4 per cent and advertised salaries for quality managers jumped nearly 14 per cent.

These stats match the developments we are observing in the sector. Electronic engineering continues to be one of the most prevalent areas in the industry, with fast-paced innovation in driving the demand for professionals with these skills.

There’s also great demand for senior roles across the sector. Employers will need to look at innovative ways to attract these candidates, particularly with a widespread skills shortage  as a backdrop. The market is inundated with exciting roles and a low supply of candidates, and employers have a challenge on their hands to get the right talent through the door.

To tackle this, employers must design their roles and recruitment processes around the employee’s experience. Employers must ensure the role they are advertising meets professionals’ specific needs and details its ins and outs. General specifications will attract the wrong talent and can lead to time being wasted. Time is of the essence in the current engineering jobs market, with employers needing to move quickly when someone with the required skills is available.

Opportunities must also appeal to people’s motivators, above and beyond job title and compensation package. Much of the senior talent in engineering will prioritise a healthy work-life balance, employee wellbeing, inclusivity and company shares.

However, salaries do still play a big part in workers’ happiness in their current roles. A survey of more than 500 professionals conducted by Reed found that 44 per cent of respondents were unhappy with their current salary. 30 per cent of those who were unhappy with their pay cited that they did more than their role entailed, while 22 per cent highlighted that they believed they could get a higher salary elsewhere.

With the majority of teams coming under huge strain as organisations adapt to the skills shortage in the engineering sector, professionals are looking for their employers to reward them for their hard work. If businesses aren’t doing this, then employees will be looking to move.

The survey also examined the most popular benefits among professionals across all sectors. The top five were additional paid time off, health insurance, performance bonuses, annual salary increments and higher-than-normal pensions. While these are reasonably standard benefits, organisations that offer them will make themselves more attractive to prospective employees. Businesses should also consider supporting and investing in upskilling. This is a good way to retain staff, attract professionals with a focus on personal development and also ensure that the skills gap in the engineering sector closes.

The battle for talent is set to continue well into 2022. Companies must review their hiring strategies, benchmark salaries, and offer competitive benefits packages to attract professionals who will help them to transform their business.

Kimberly Hunsdon, engineering and manufacturing recruitment expert at Reed