The 10 highest pay increases in the engineering sector for the year ahead

7 min read | Paul Gibbens | Article | Job searching Market trends Recruiting Salary and pay

10 highest pay increases in the engineering

More than nine in ten engineering organisations have raised their salaries in the last 12 months, our research indicates, and more than half have increased them by 5% or more. With engineering specialists in high demand and employers desperate to retain staff amid skills shortages, it’s not surprising that substantial pay increases and counteroffers have been commonplace in the engineering and manufacturing sector this year. 

We recently surveyed nearly 15,000 employers and employees across the UK, including over a thousand engineering professionals, as part of our Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends guide. The results from the survey provide a detailed picture of the hiring challenges, salary changes and industry trends influencing the world of work.

We’ll focus on three important questions in the engineering and manufacturing sector that our in-depth, industry-specific research answers:

  • What’s causing salary inflation for engineering jobs?
  • Which engineering roles have seen the highest pay increases?
  • What does the hiring landscape in engineering look like for the year ahead?

 

The impact of rising living costs on engineering salaries

"A sizeable number of engineering professionals (43%) say that the current cost of living is making them more inclined to look for another role with better pay."

 

Engineering salaries have increased by an average of 3.6% over the last 12 months, which is comparable to the national average. The cost-of-living situation has been a driving factor for pay rises: seven out of every ten employers we surveyed said that they’ve raised salaries as a direct result of rising living costs. A sizeable number of engineering professionals (43%) say that the current cost of living is making them more inclined to look for another role with better pay.

 

Skills shortages persist in the engineering sector

"A considerable number of organisations (86%) are planning on recruiting staff in the next 12 months to combat persistent skills shortages and find the right talent."

 

Almost every engineering organisation (97%) has been subject to skills shortages in the last 12 months – and this skills gap, alongside talent retention, is predicted to pose the greatest challenge for employers internally in the coming year. A considerable number of organisations (86%) are planning on recruiting staff in the next 12 months to combat persistent skills shortages and find the right talent.

In the face of the negative impacts of skills shortages, including increased workloads for engineers, heightened stress levels, poor mental health, low employee morale and high turnover, employers are willing to pay higher salaries for engineering professionals with specialist skills. But are these pay rises sustainable in the long term?

 

Specialist engineering areas see significant salary increases

"Society’s growing reliance on electrical devices and technology has boosted salaries for electronics engineers."

 

Salaries for technical and specialist roles have seen above-average increases this year, especially in areas like mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) trades, design engineering and defence. 

The recent surge in construction and infrastructure activity has created an inflated demand for electrical design engineers and welders, specifically coded welders who meet specific industry standards. Meanwhile, the rapid expansion of renewable energy capabilities in the UK has created an urgent need for more bolting technicians, and society’s growing reliance on electrical devices and technology has boosted salaries for electronics engineers. Professionals working on defence projects have seen their salaries rise by an average of 6.2% this year.

 

 

Salaries aren’t the only consideration for engineering professionals

Remuneration is undoubtedly important to professionals in the engineering sector, in fact issues with salary and benefits packages is the top reason employees want to leave their current job.

It’s essential for employers to stay up to date with salary and recruiting trends in the engineering sector to make sure they’re paying their staff what they’re worth and to help attract new talent. Professionals should also check their current salary before they start job searching, to make sure their salary expectations are in line with the industry average.

Beyond pay, engineering employees are looking for: 

  • Job security
  • A positive company culture
  • Tailored flexible working policies

Organisations should draw attention to these elements during their recruitment and onboarding processes, to ensure they’re not losing out on the top engineering talent.

 

Employee experience at the heart of the recruitment process

Over half of engineering employees, 52%, are expecting to change jobs in the next 12 months, according to our research. What are they looking for in their next role, and how can your organisation stand out from the competition?

Shockingly, around two-thirds of engineering professionals have been put off from continuing with job applications for certain employers, with a lack of communication during the application process being the main contributing factor to this decision. Furthermore, six in ten employees have left a job in the engineering sector because they didn’t feel that the reality of working at the organisation matched the impression they gained during the interview process. 

It’s clear that organisations need to provide an efficient, authentic and positive recruitment experience for jobseekers in order to attract top engineering professionals in a skills-short market.

Check out the UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2024 guide for a more detailed look at the industry insights and salary trends that will define the engineering and manufacturing sector in the year ahead.

 

About this author

Paul Gibbens, National Specialism Director, Engineering, Hays

Paul began his recruitment career in 2005 before joining Hays in November 2019. Paul is an experienced customer-focused director with extensive knowledge of the nuclear, MOD & defence, oil & gas, rail, power generation, petrochemical, chemical, renewable energy, and manufacturing industries.

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