Engineers urged to spark contracting careers

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Individuals working in the engineering sector can expect “strong demand and lucrative earnings” if they choose to embrace contracting.

Data from The Engineer’s 2015 salary survey reveals that a combination of an ageing workforce and a lack of investment in apprenticeships has created a serious talent shortage across all disciplines. This has made skilled professionals increasingly valued and sought after.

Contractors have long been regarded as offering business access to key skills, therefore the current talent drought affecting the engineering sector should provide a wealth of opportunities for those pursuing a freelancing career. In addition, competition between employers has created a “talent war” that is pushing up salaries.

According to the report, contractors working within the oil and gas sector can expect the greatest reward, with an average pay packet of £55,265. Energy, renewable and nuclear professionals came in second, followed by those in the defence, security and marine industries.

However, the research reported a significant regional variation when it comes to the most profitable discipline. Energy, renewable & nuclear were most prominent in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland, while chemicals & pharma prevailed in the Midlands, East Anglia and the South West.

In addition, the study highlighted a “worrying trend” that sees more engineers falling within the 50-54 age bracket than any other. This has raised concerns that the current skills crisis could continue once the current crop of talent retires.

David Leyshon, chairman of recruitment firm CBS Butler, said: “Despite many new initiatives to attract young people into the sector, there remain many challenges in meeting industry needs and in closing the skills gaps.

“One of the obvious talent pools that has yet to be harnessed is the female population, where traditionally there has been a very low uptake into the engineering industry. Indeed, we only need at countries such as Germany where engineering is at the pinnacle of professions to witness a far greater diversity.”

Have your say

Are you a contractor working within the engineering industry? Have you noticed an increase in assignment rates and demand? What advice would you give to those thinking about becoming a freelancer? Join in the discussion on Twitter, or leave a comment below.