Engineering Recruitment – Market Commentary – January 2019

The engineering recruitment market hasn’t looked back since our last quarterly market commentary. The 2017-18 financial year was lacklustre in both permanent and contract recruitment. What a turn around!

We have virtually seen a reversal with record numbers of roles being placed in the December quarter and we don’t see it turning down any time soon. We continue to be optimistic about the demand for trades, engineering, manufacturing professionals, software and hardware engineers and industrial tradespeople, and we’re continuing to build our own internal team strongly as a result.

We hope that you enjoy reading our market commentary and the more specific observations of some of the key engineering & technical markets in which we operate.

Engineering, Operations and Trades

There is a continued and steady requirement for employees across many different industries and manufacturing sectors. We are fielding enquiries to recruit roles ranging from engineers and operations managers to general managers. The balance appears to be split equally between permanent and contract employment.

The current market for trades recruitment is strong with large numbers of employers looking for candidates, particularly within the food and pharmaceutical industries, manufacturing and services. Electricians, maintenance fitters, fitters & turners, heavy vehicle mechanics are all being sought for permanent & contract roles. Whilst there are a number of reasons behind this, the overriding factors appear to be a combination of a shortage of available qualified quality candidates and high demand.

Mechanical Services

The biggest demand for us is in the areas of HVAC technicians, both mechanical and electrical, and especially for data centre operator roles, followed by fire sprinkler fitters. This is across Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

The data centre sector is booming and we are seeking candidates for permanent roles over the next 3 months. You don’t need to be HVAC qualified – you could be an A grade electrician or suitably experienced critical 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 contracts managers, project managers and project engineers, fire services specialists, building advisory consultants and building efficiency and tuning experts, especially for Sydney.

Software and Hardware Technology

We anticipate a hectic first quarter for 2019. Demand for developers of hardware, firmware and software is consistent, as it was last year. Confidence to recruit is reasonably high, as far as we can see – and remember, we do not have a panoramic view of the recruitment economy, but from the mid level vantage point we have, it all looks positive. Candidate supply varies depending on the role. One online advertisement for an engineer has attracted 150 candidates while another has resulted in 10. Why the difference? The first is for an all round electronics engineer whilst the second is for a fullstack web developer, which is possibly the highest demand candidate type today. So, as always, the overall picture has subtle variations when looked at closely.

Employers still expect candidates to know their core subject matter intimately, and sadly, a significant proportion, maybe 50%, of candidates do not satisfy the employer that they have mastered their field – for example, digital electronics, or object oriented design or multi-threaded applications or whatever it might be. There is no substitute for knowing your core subject and its application to real world needs. Hardware, firmware, software and cloud developers and testers, be ready to explain what you have done and how you did it. My best analogy these days is that of a specimen under a microscope – you are the specimen and I (then the client) am the eye gazing down at you. I can increase the magnification on you only so far, the client will increase it even more, so that you have to be able to provide really specific details of your capabilities.

Frustratingly, a fair number of applicants turn the microscope interview procedure into a telescope examination. In other words, rather than give really good specific examples of what they have done in as much detail as the employer requires, they offer a wide horizon of generalised experiences, but offering nothing that the interviewer can get his/her teeth into. The “telescope” approach is fine for the introductory stage of the interview (10 minutes describing the generalised outline of your experience) but after that, put your telescope away and climb on to the glass slide under the microscope!