A large increase in infrastructure investment has ensured the demand for engineering skills remains strong, according to research by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).
The research shows that demand for engineering candidates has risen throughout the Eurozone crisis, as demand for highly skilled candidates in other sectors falls. Vacancies for engineers were up one per cent year on year in January for permanent candidates, and up seven per cent year on year for temporary staff and contractors.
Recently released data shows that investment in infrastructure rose 23.5 per cent year on year to £3.6bn in Q4 2011, from £2.9bn in Q4 2010. Furthermore, infrastructure investment in 2011 was at its highest level since 1980.
APSCo said in a statement that demand for engineering contractors is particularly strong in the energy sector, including oil and gas, renewable energy, and power transmission. However, in other sectors, such as aerospace, skills shortages are still an issue.
The research is from the APSCo Monthly Trends Report, which analyses job vacancies and placements across the UK professional staffing sector. The report compares data from thousands of vacancies and placements supplied by APSCo members who place professional candidates within the UK.
Ann Swain, chief executive for APSCo, said: ‘Engineering remains the bright spot among the professional jobs market at the moment. Crossrail is Europe’s largest construction project and has created huge demand for engineering and project management specialists. With the government focused on boosting investment in UK infrastructure projects, demand for engineering skills should remain buoyant.
‘The UK has a long-term shortage of engineering skills. With demand so strong, the government needs to ensure that the UK’s historical underproduction of engineering skills does not impede growth in vital sectors such as oil and gas, and power generation.
‘Given the supply-side constraints, and with hirers facing growing competition for skills, pressure on pay in the engineering sector is likely to intensify this year.’
Vacancies for permanent professionals (such as bankers, lawyers and media executives) were down by 17 per cent year on year in January as businesses continued to put hiring plans to one side. Vacancies were eight per cent up on December, however, as the market staged its usual recovery from the quiet holiday season.