Engineering Recruitment – Market Commentary – April 2019

2019 has started rather sluggishly in our core engineering recruitment market as compared to the previous two quarters. However, opportunities remain plentiful. Uncertainty in the economy linked to the forthcoming federal election seems to have made employers hesitant to take final investment decisions. As we start our 40th year of matching high-level engineers with premium clients across Australia, we have seen this phenomenon many times before. Politics does influence the recruitment market and can create hesitancy, especially in the lead up to federal elections, however we remain positive about the underlying indicators which we believe will result in much stronger subsequent periods. We do hope that you will enjoy reading this quarter’s commentary on our specific engineering areas of expertise.

Building & Mechanical Services

We have a big demand for a number of roles: HVAC service technicians (both mechanical and electrical), sprinkler fitters, alarm panel technicians across Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

We have been saying this for a while, but it is still true – the data centre sector is booming! We are seeking candidates for permanent roles. You don’t need to be HVAC qualified – you could be an A grade electrician or suitably experienced process operator who has operated a range of critical machinery. Most of the roles are shift based, but the shift rosters are a ripper!! At the more senior levels, we are continually on the lookout for mechanical services contract/client/account managers, project managers, site managers and project engineers, fire services specialists, building advisory consultants and building efficiency and tuning experts, especially for Sydney and Melbourne.

Construction & Consulting Engineering

Engineering construction continues to remain a key driver of growth across the eastern seaboard during the first quarter of 2019, with continued high levels of focus on major road and rail projects. We are seeing a high demand for talent as a result of new and current projects, particularly for civil engineers and civil drafters, in response to the number of infrastructure projects already underway. An increase in civil infrastructure across irrigation, utilities, water, wastewater, roads and bridges has created demand for civil project managers. Structural engineers are in great demand, particularly senior candidates who can hit the ground running and lead a team. Chartered senior engineers who can bring business to an organisation are highly sought after, as are structural drafters with Revit Structures experience. Façade engineers and drafters are in high demand too, as existing building facades are upgraded. Fire and hydraulic engineering candidates are in particularly short supply. Demand will increase further as large metro and station projects move into design and construct phases in both the Sydney and Melbourne markets.

Engineering & Manufacturing Operations

The end of 2018 brought with it a steady stream of engineering and manufacturing operations positions. Based on this and the growth over previous quarters, it was anticipated that 2019 would follow suit, however, what has transpired instead appears to be a decrease in engineering and operational staff requirements due to slowing economic conditions. Although no particular industry appears to stand out from a jobs perspective, there does appear to be a bigger requirement than usual for sales staff in the engineering and broader manufacturing industries. Rather than a knee jerk reaction to soft conditions, it would appear as though companies are intending to use these conditions to consolidate their positions within their given industries. The positions we have filled in recent months include general managers, operations managers, maintenance managers and production managers, whilst there has also been a big need for mechanical, electrical, civil and chemical engineers. The sales roles comprised of sales managers, sales representatives and sales engineers. Once the federal election has come and gone, there should be a clearer picture as to whether these soft conditions are due to a slowing economy, or whether companies have refrained from spending due to the election. For the time being, consolidation appears to be the modus operandi.

Technology

Jobs are becoming a little scarcer than pre-Christmas and employer expectations are, as usual, increasing. The term “fullstack” seems to apply everywhere as a cover for “we want you to do a lot of things!”.  This is now the norm it would appear. Demand for developers is still high, with the employer mantra of “we want the very best in the market”, generally the top 20% in any field. My basic maths tells me that 80% of employers cannot all hire the top 20% in embedded systems or web services or C++. Something has to give! It generally results in employer frustration or spiralling salaries. Pressure to find the best continues unabated and I firmly believe that most candidates can aspire to being in the upper quartile of “desirable candidates” by focussing more effectively on describing what they have done and emphasising their achievements, without appearing to be “bigheaded”. We are still seeing opportunities for software, firmware and web developers and even the occasional hardware developer, but the days of just turning up to interview and if you look alright, you’ll get a go are well and truly over. What added value can you bring to the business? Why should they hire you? To succeed, think fullstack and when they ask “what have you done in the past?”, your eyes should light up as you proceed to explain exactly what you have done. The resume is your shop window (not the project’s shop window you have been part of) and the interview is your legitimate spruiking (not exaggeration) of your capabilities.