Professional engineers are commanding increasingly high salaries as skills shortages across the sector continue to undermine companies’ recruitment activities, according to a report released this week.
The going rate for qualified engineers is rising as companies struggle to keep up with salaries offered by other manufacturers in their area.
of companies questioned in the report published by Incomes Data Services, 60% said they were having recruitment and retention problems. A third of these respondents were finding it particularly hard to recruit professional engineers.
More than a third of companies said they had made changes to their salary levels or structures to attract and retain employees.
The report identifies consumer electronics business Tatung UK as one example of a company struggling to find research and development engineers to fill its vacancies. A spokesman for Tatung said margins in the consumer electronics sector were tight, making it more difficult to compete for recruits with computing and information technology companies.
Tatung may have to change its salary structure to attract graduates of the right calibre, he added.
Almost 60% of companies said a general lack of qualified engineers was putting pressure on pay. They blamed the low numbers of graduates and young people entering the profession.
Firms are having particular difficulties recruiting heat treatment engineers, manufacturing information systems engineers, programmable logic controller engineers, industrial engineers and software engineers.
Mike Coulson, a recruitment and development manager at BAE Systems, which has 800 vacancies this year for experienced and graduate engineers, said the company has to look at increasing salaries constantly, particularly when recruiting software engineers, to keep up with the rest of the market.
Some companies have said that recent job losses such as those at Rover have relieved some of their engineering recruitment problems. But Coulson said these redundancies have been of no help to BAE Systems.
`Generally those employees becoming available at Rover are operators and assembly line workers, rather than design engineers, which are much rarer beasts,’ he said.
Loyalty bonuses and benefits are not necessarily the best way to keep staff happy, he added: `The thing that most engineers want is interesting, challenging work.’
But Coulson said that the company does offer `golden hellos’ to some graduate engineers. These are payouts of £1,500-£2,000 to cover the cost of student loans.
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