Engineers with specialist automotive skills are becoming scarce, pushing up salaries, as UK car companies including Jaguar and Cosworth look to fill hundreds of new jobs.
Jaguar, which is looking for 100 engineers, said there are too few with powertrain, electrical and CAD skills.
The problem is partly due to a nationwide failure to train people in the early 1990s, said a spokesman. A quarter of the jobs will go to recent graduates, while some for example electrical engineers could come from other industries.
Jaguar believes the rest will be attracted by the company’s expansion plans, including the X400 model, which should be in full production by 2002.
Cosworth Technology is to take on 700 extra staff over the next three years, including 200 this year, following £47m of orders from parent company Audi.
Cosworth said it will need around 100 powertrain engineers at its Northampton development facility. The remaining 600 jobs, mainly for production workers, will be distributed between its other UK sites and the US. Cosworth makes engines in Wellingborough and cylinder heads in Worcester.
Meanwhile, the drive to bring out new models for the millennium has caused a shortage of advanced product quality planning (APQP) engineers, said recruitment consultant Roland Lee of Jonathan Lee Recruitment.
The move towards consolidation among component suppliers is creating job vacancies and putting pressure on salaries. ‘There is a battle among suppliers to get quality engineers so that they can become one-stop shops,’ said Lee.
But Rover engineers worried about the threat to the Longbridge plant are already contacting recruitment agencies. ‘A lot of people at Rover are getting itchy feet,’ one agency said.