Degree or No Degree? Recruitment in Engineering

Degree or No Degree? Recruitment in Engineering

11 April 2017

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The Engineering industry in Scotland is facing a problematic skills shortage. For about a decade, as a nation, we fell out of love with Apprenticeship schemes and encouraged potential industry workers to pursue an academic route instead. This now means that the labour market is filled with graduates with no real hands-on experience or skilled workers who are getting ready to retire.

So how should the industry attempt to ameliorate this 15 – 20 year gap where there is going to be a real lack of candidates who are able to take up technical and skilled positions?

The answer is simple: Hiring managers within Engineering need to take a look at their existing workforce. There are plenty of candidates looking to further their careers and take on more responsibility. So why aren’t they being snapped up?

Because the market is proving rather fickle. Companies fall in to two distinct camps. They either insist upon candidates having degrees or time-served experience. There is no happy medium.

This is a regressive attitude to take when approaching employment which will seriously damage an industry already lacking in available talent.

Many suitable candidates have come through Apprenticeships and simply worked their way up through hard work, dedication and attention to detail. They will have enhanced their skills through college courses and additional training. They have proven their passion for the industry by continuing to improve their skills set and keep up to date with technical developments.

These candidates are entirely qualified to perform Project Manager roles in any discipline (from Piping to Civil; from Mechanical to Structural) – a lack of degree should not be a barrier to career progression.

There are many benefits to hiring candidates who are qualified through experience. They have already built up a portfolio of expertise and proved their dedication to the industry. Because of their hands-on experience, they won’t necessarily need extra training when they start a new job and they are far less likely to slow down your productivity. They are used to keeping up with demand and performing tasks on time. Learning can be so much more than writing essays and memorising theory.

Other sectors of Scottish business, such as Technology and Finance Practice have already cottoned on to the fact that utilising the skills set of existing employees (who don’t have degrees) is the perfect solution to plug the gaps in a candidate short market.

If other professional industries – who also rely on technical and skilled workers – can take this route, Engineering should absolutely be willing follow suit.

It’s important that candidates who have proven to be reliable and willing to improve their skills set are given an equal opportunity when it comes to promotion within the industry.

If the Scottish Engineering sector is to overcome any staffing shortages and continue to thrive in future years, it’s crucial that the existing pool of capable workers is utilised to its greatest capacity.

If you have recruiting needs within the Engineering industry, I’d love to be able to help. I have a talent pool of highly skilled candidates who are ready for their next opportunity. Click here to get in touch with me.




Written By Martine O'Kane


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