Employers must pay up to hold on to UK engineers

Wanted: 100 talented engineers to work for a leading industrial company with a well-known name and a glamorous set of products. Successful applicants will join a team of 650 engineers working at a world-class research and development centre. Competitive rates of pay and opportunities to work overseas. In theory, the undoubted highlights of these opportunities […]

Wanted: 100 talented engineers to work for a leading industrial company with a well-known name and a glamorous set of products. Successful applicants will join a team of 650 engineers working at a world-class research and development centre. Competitive rates of pay and opportunities to work overseas.

In theory, the undoubted highlights of these opportunities should bring in thousands of would-be recruits. But when Rover Group entered the jobs market with such an offer earlier this year, it managed to recruit just half the people it needed.

Its experience is part of a growing and increasingly critical position for British industry. Many of the brightest and the best engineers are looking overseas and can command high salaries.

Manufacturers in all sectors, from machine tools and control systems to aerospace and automotive, report problems with recruitment.

There is a clear growing skills shortage and industry has few quick fixes.

Industry chiefs are fond of rolling out statistics about the better than average pay rises given to engineers over the past few years. But this does little to convince engineers or the general public that engineering is a profession in which to get rich. The role models of well-paid city workers, lawyers and accountants are easier to spot.

Whatever the recent improvements, if the engineering community feels underpaid it means salary rates for the highly skilled have to go up.

Losing the UK’s best talent will cost more in the long-run than a higher salary bill.