Recruitment Trends in Engineering & Manufacturing for 2024

In a world of constant change, engineering and manufacturing firms are at the forefront of technological innovation. It’s an exciting position to be in! But also one that requires an exceptional team if you want to keep up.

To help you build a strong recruitment plan, we’ve identified some key trends affecting talent acquisition that you need to be aware of.

Key Trends: Addressing the Labour Shortage, Upskilling, Employer Branding, Younger Workforce, Faster REcruitment, Diversity & Inclusion, Sustainability, Cyber Security.

1.    Addressing the Skills & Labour Shortage

It isn’t news that Engineering & Manufacturing is facing a talent issue. The Manufacturing Institute predicts 2.1 million manufacturing jobs will remain unfilled by 2030. There are a number of factors behind this shortage including an aging workforce coupled with a lack of interest from younger generations, and poor numbers of qualified, skilled candidates.

The situation has gotten to the point where almost 75% of manufacturing executives name talent attraction and retention as their primary business challenge.

So, how can engineering and manufacturing firms address this crisis?

1a. Upskilling, Reskilling, & Internal Mobility

The primary method for combatting a skills shortage has to be upskilling and reskilling. If qualified candidates fail to emerge, companies must look at investing in their existing team to create qualified members of staff.

This approach has multiple benefits. Not only will it address the much-needed skills gap, improving quality and productivity, but it also allows employers to hire outside the box! Job seekers looking to transition into engineering and manufacturing can now be considered if companies commit to training them in the necessary skills in-house.

Moreover, a dedicated training and development program, with clear opportunities for internal mobility also improves retention rates. Employees working at companies with high internal mobility are likely to stay 60% longer.

1b. Employer Branding & Crafting an Attractive Offer

Of course, creating a competitive offering should be part of any recruitment strategy. We are continuing to see salaries increase as employers hope to attract the best talent. The median pay for engineers across all sectors doubled between 2021 and 2022, and the Engineer’s 2023 Salary Survey reports that 75% of engineers received a pay rise in the last 12 months.

However, creating an attractive offering is about more than just salary. We expect to see companies working to improve and promote their ‘employer brand’. Employers need to define what they stand for, what it’s like to work with them, and what they can offer their employees.

Employers who develop a reputation for protecting staff wellbeing, offering a range of desirable benefits, and investing in their team’s professional development will be best positioned to attract the top talent.

The words Employee Value Proposition appear in the centre of circling arrows. The arrows are labelled Compensation, Benefits, Work Environment, Career Development, and Culture

1c. Attracting a Younger Audience

Part of the problem leading to a labour shortage is that young people are increasingly uninterested in engineering and manufacturing careers. A study from Soter Analytics reveals that only 14% of Gen Z job seekers would consider industrial work as a career.

Reasons for why younger people aren’t interested include a perception that industrial work pays poorly, is unsafe, and doesn’t offer flexible hours.

This is despite the fact that many engineering and manufacturing positions actually pay above the national average! Plus, technical advancements are constantly improving worker safety and wellbeing.

Employers need to combat these negative perceptions if they are to attract younger candidates. Companies could consider establishing a relationship with local schools and colleges to create a pipeline of younger workers.

1d. Faster Recruitment

The final trend we are seeing to combat the labour shortage is that many companies are keen to speed up the recruitment process. It’s a candidate’s market right now and the best candidates can be approached within hours of uploading their CV online.

Our advice to employers is not to waste any time with long, drawn-out application processes. When you find a quality candidate, act fast to make sure your competitors don’t get them first!

2.    Diversity & Inclusion

The conversation around diverse hiring practices is only growing, as it should. The National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute have co-created a Pledge of Action “to take 50,000 tangible actions to increase equity and parity for underrepresented communities.” Additionally, the Tomorrow’s Engineers Code now has over 250 members pledge to “increase the diversity and number of young people entering engineering and technology careers.”

We’re pleased to hear that 64% of manufacturers say that diversity and inclusion efforts are a key focus for their company. Employers who do follow through on these plans are sure to see enhanced innovation and profitability in their organisation, as well as an improved reputation as a welcoming place to work.

To encourage a diverse range of applicants, make sure to highlight your commitment to ED&I in all employer branding and job advertisements. Create a diverse interviewing panel, to help candidates feel more comfortable. You could also ensure that your recruitment team, or any agency that you engage with, has undergone unconscious bias training.

The words Benefits of Diversity appear in the middle of a spidergram. Around the outside are the labels Increased Creativity, Faster Problem Solving, Increased Profits, Wider Talent Pool, Improved Reputation, Increased Employee Engagement, and Lower Employee Turnover.

3.    Sustainability

Another trend that has been growing for some time, and is only going to get more pressing, is the issue of climate concern. Cutting down on carbon emissions and prioritising eco-friendly methods/resources is a trend that affects all sectors of engineering and manufacturing. Consumers want it and Government initiatives are demanding it.

Specialists in sustainable processes will be in high demand. Some companies are even separating the E from QHSE roles to create a dedicated position for Environmental strategy.

Employers should look for candidates who can keep up with fast-evolving solutions and the growing body of regulations.

4.    Cyber Security

Finally, there is a sly but growing threat to engineering and manufacturing firms that employers need to be aware of – the threat of cyber-attacks. In 2021, manufacturers suffered the most cyber-attacks of any industry, and PwC reported that 49% of manufacturers list cyber security risks as one of the biggest challenges their companies will face in the next two years.

Cyber criminals took advantage of existing supply-chain issues in the wake of Covid-19 and, as we enter the digital era of automation and smart factories, manufacturers are increasingly vulnerable to attack.

Employers would be wise to build a strong cyber security team to protect their assets.

The words Industry 4.0 appear in the centre with icons circling it. The Icons are labelled Autonomous Robots, Simulation, System Integration, Internet of Things, Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing, Additive Manufacturing, Augmented Reality, and Big Data.

In conclusion

Engineering and manufacturing firms face a number of challenges that require a strategic recruitment plan. Employers who invest in upskilling and employer branding efforts, and who are able to engage younger candidates will be best positioned to combat the ongoing labour shortage. Moreover, your hiring strategy needs to address ED&I concerns and prioritise sustainability and cyber security professionals.

As the largest Engineering & Manufacturing recruitment team in the Yorkshire region, we at Elevation are dedicated to helping local businesses find the best local talent. With experts in all areas of engineering and manufacturing, we are ideally placed to help you build a successful recruitment plan.

Call us on 01709 723 248, or email John Bohan, our Senior Director of E&M, on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss your recruitment needs.

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