Engineering companies are facing mounting difficulties in recruiting suitably skilled staff, according to the latest research published by the Engineering and Marine Training Authority earlier this month.
According to EMTA’s 1998 Labour Market Survey of the Engineering Industry in Britain, 49% of employers seeking to take on new staff reported recruitment difficulties a phenomenon which seems to have affected all sizes of business.
Vehicle makers, aerospace firms and general engineering companies have had the most trouble finding suitable personnel.
Professional engineering staff who proved most difficult to recruit included design and development engineers, technical engineers, software engineers and sales engineers.
On the shop floor, engineering companies were also suffering from shortages of skilled welders, machine setters, sheet metal workers, machine tool operators and electricians.
The survey also revealed what action employers had taken in response to the recruitment problem. The most common action was to increase recruitment efforts (40% of respondents), but the second most common response (22%) was to take no further action. ‘This implies that some employers have given up trying to recruit staff,’ the report comments.
Other ways of attacking recruitment problems include taking on less qualified or lower-skilled staff (13%), retraining existing staff (9%) or employing temporary agency staff (6.5%).
More than one firm in 10 said problems with recruitment were restricting business growth and leading to lost orders, while 14% blamed labour shortages for increased production times and costs.
EMTA surveyed 4,200 engineering manufacturing sites throughout Britain between January and March this year, publishing the initial information in the form of an interim report. Detailed analysis is under way, and a full report will be published in early autumn.
As the national training organisation for the engineering industry, EMTA will carry out a full labour market survey every three years, with annual updates based on smaller-scale research.