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Engineering faces talent mismatch as engineers look for career development overseas

18 June 2014

Four in ten employers who have recruited mechanical engineers from overseas have done so as a result of a shortage of relevant skills in the UK, according to new research by Hays Engineering and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Over 3,500 IMechE members from around the world were surveyed for their views on international career mobility and recruitment for the Hays/IMechE Global Labour Mobility report.

Of those who were responsible for hiring UK staff, 88% said their organisation had employed engineers from abroad. Half of these employers had recruited from overseas to find specific-sector experience and 42% had done so due to the shortages of relevant skills within the country. Employers also recruited from overseas due to the quality of education (28%) and work ethic of candidates (17%).

As UK employers are looking overseas for skills, mechanical engineers within the UK are very aware of the opportunities they have and the high regard in which their training and qualifications are held around the world. The majority (83%) said they would consider a career move to another country and over half (53%) of UK respondents would consider a move to another country even if pay and remuneration were not greater than in the UK.

The UK remains a popular destination for engineers and 84% of international survey respondents said they would consider working in the UK. Worryingly, however, although 69% of UK respondents believe there are enough opportunities for them in the UK, only 17% think enough is being done to recognise the work of professional engineers, causing many to consider their job prospects elsewhere.

Greg Lettington, Director, Hays Engineering said: “The report illustrates the talent mismatch the industry faces. On the one hand employers are struggling to find the skilled individuals they need, and looking further afield to find them, while engineers believe their recognition in the UK is limited when compared to other countries and are looking to pursue their career development overseas. It is positive news that UK engineers are so valued internationally, but this poses a threat to the success of domestic projects where mechanical engineers are difficult to find. Employers in the UK need to look at how they can retain talent, whilst also attracting the best talent from overseas.”

Dr Colin Brown, Director of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said: ““The UK needs to realise that it is competing in a world market for engineering talent.  We are historically very proficient at teaching and researching engineering in this country, but we must be wary as this survey shows that only 15% of those who responded definitely see their future in the UK.  There is already a shortage of new engineers coming through which will only get worse if we fail to excite those who have trained here.”

In the report Hays makes four recommendations to ensure that engineering in the UK is seen as a desirable career and attracts the best talent to the industry from both home and overseas;

• The industry must promote the profession as a fulfilling and rewarding career, with excellent remuneration available and recognition for projects that deliver value to society
• The Government should offer greater flexibility over immigration of professional, qualified engineers required to deliver projects critical to the country’s economic success
• The Government should be encouraged to offer subsidies to study engineering, and employers should ensure they offer sufficient support to aspiring engineers currently in education
• Industry should ensure greater promotion of the work of mechanical engineers to raise public awareness and visibility

To request a copy of the Hays/IMechE Global Labour Mobility report visit  


For further press information please contact:

Kathryn Jones
T. 020 7200 3760

About Hays
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2013 the Group employed 7,979 staff operating from 240 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2013:
- the Group reported net fees of £719 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £125.5 million;
- the Group placed around 53,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 182,000 people into temporary assignments;
- 29% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 40% in Continental Europe & RoW (CERoW) and 31% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;
- the temporary placement business represented 59% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 41% of net fees;
- Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA