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Engineering skills shortages and how to overcome them

Engineering skills shortages and how to overcome them

about 4 years ago Empty Jason Thornhill


Engineers remain on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL) with jobs like design engineer, mechanical engineer, quality control and production engineer featuring in the top 10 most sought after roles.

So, how do leading companies in the building services and HVAC sectors find the people they need to help them survive and thrive?

Proactive recruitment

In a recent article we talked in detail about passive recruitment and how it is helping HVAC manufacturers in particular to grow. The fact that we specialise in engineering recruitment at Thornhvac, and have done for the past 20 years, means we have a strong network of talented individuals whose careers we have helped to build. This knowledge goes well beyond the information contained in a CV and allows us to work with clients and potential candidates to match skills and experience to both a job opportunity and a business plan for growth.


At first glance, a candidate may have just the right skills for a role. The company they are applying to work for may appear to be ideally suited to their experience and expectations. However, as we have alluded to above, things are not always as they appear on paper. This is why we always take time to pre-vet candidates. A conversation on the phone or in person gives a much broader perspective on the candidate’s career goals and other aspects of their suitability such as communication skills and work ethic. Equally, it gives us a chance to talk in more depth about the hiring company so that they can take a view on whether the move is a good one for them at this stage in their professional development. This is a vital step and surprisingly there are a lot of recruitment companies that don’t take the time to pre-vet candidates before putting forward a CV. Our pre-vetting process is based on 20  years of experience in consultancy and recruitment including some major pieces of research into performance at work. We know that work history is one of the best predictors of performance. So, after we have uncovered the performance record of HVAC candidates at interview we check it with two previous employers. That way our clients receive fewer CVs to look through and we achieve more successful placements.

Thinking outside the box

So far we have talked about finding skills that are already in the marketplace. The real key to tackling the engineering skills gap, however, is through engagement at school, college and university. A huge amount of work is now being done to inform the engineers of the future about the job prospects that lie ahead so that they can follow relevant training paths and consider the possibilities that exist now and in the years ahead. One of these initiatives is Cool Science, which sets out to inspire young people in the UK to study science, technology, engineering and maths. To find out more about the role of education in addressing the skills gap, read our article on inspiring the engineers of the future.