Engineering Recruitment – Market Commentary – July 2018

The big news for us is that after many years we have changed our name from Australia Wide Personnel to Australia Wide Engineering Recruitment to truly reflect the activity which has been the cornerstone of the company since we began in 1979. The areas in which we focus now form the basis of our regular market commentaries.

The end of the 2017 – 2018 financial year capped off a challenging year for us in both permanent and contract recruitment. Whilst we had a huge order book in the last quarter we found it quite frustrating as hiring decisions from all sides were deferred.  However we remain very optimistic about the demand for engineering, manufacturing & construction professionals and we’re continuing to build our own internal team strongly as a result. We believe this will continue into at least the medium term future. The main contributors are solid business confidence and the pipeline of infrastructure projects. In the software and hardware space we have never been busier with enquiries flooding in.

Following are more specific observations of some of the key engineering & technical markets in which we operate.

Consulting Engineering and Construction

The engineering & construction industry is very active across multiple states in Australia. The most buoyant sectors are major road & freeway upgrades and new developments, rail crossing removals and associated road & rail tunnelling projects and commercial development. Whilst the industrial property markets seem to have steadied, there are plenty of other new projects, particularly in QLD, VIC, SA & NSW that have absorbed much of our skilled resources. The trickle-down effect means that developers, architects, engineering consultancies and main contractors are engaged in frequent tendering and working on awarded projects.  Specialist contractors, FM and PM firms are some of the other organisations who are flourishing in the current construction market.

With greenfield & brownfield developments on the rise, there is a need for candidates who have experience in design & construct, construct only, lump sum contracts and who are familiar with the Australian form of contracts. FIDIC contracts experience is valuable but more so for candidates that have local construction experience. The tier two contractors are actively hiring and are able to engage with a wide group of candidates across the industry. Whilst the tier ones naturally carry out major projects, many candidates are drawn to the tier twos due to differences in culture, closer team environments, access to sizeable projects whilst being less likely to be mobilised to different project teams.

Engineering, Operations and Trades

In terms of engineering and manufacturing, the third quarter of 2018 appears to show no sign of slowing down, where we continue to field enquiries and fill roles in the engineering and manufacturing sectors. This is reflected in the NAB Business Confidence Index, where all of our sectors remain firmly in positive territory with the unemployment rate continuing to remain at a constant.

The types of roles that we are filling successfully are wide and varied, ranging from general managers, operations managers, technicians, fitters & turners, CNC operators, sales engineers, business development managers, electrical & mechanical engineers. The majority of the roles are permanent,  although there has been a reasonable requirement for both casual and contract staff also.

Whilst the majority of the enquiries are derived from Victoria and New South Wales, more recently there has been large growth in Queensland based enquiries, particularly for mechanical and electrical engineers. All of these factors read very well for a healthy third quarter in 2018.

From a candidate perspective, there is no shortage of degree qualified mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers, however, there would appear to be a shortage of qualified tradespeople such as diesel mechanics and fitters. If you’re looking for your first role or a new role, please be sure to register your interest with Australia Wide Engineering Recruitment via our website.

Software & Hardware

The planets now seem to be in alignment, at least as far as client demand for developers and testers is concerned.  For some unaccountable (?) reason, employers are hiring and there is no sign of it abating. The surge in demand for embedded (firmware) developers has been especially noticeable, and this has resulted in a seachange from being a buyer’s market late last year to a seller’s market now.  We have seen enquiries from all sectors for experienced embedded systems engineers, but that has not resulted in employers being prepared to lower their expectations, nor should it.

At the same time, support roles such as “development test” have also emerged as key to growth in design and development circles. Similarly, a sprinkling of interest in hiring hardware engineers and software and web developers has really kept us on our toes this past few months. No one industry sector has dominated the sudden increase in demand for developers, though the medical device business does seem to be experiencing a sustained boost.

Confidence must be high for this to be occurring all over, it is almost like the heady days pre-GFC and even the pre-Dotcom bust of early 2000s, if anyone remembers back then.  But it does not mean that everyone can just walk into a job, as clients still expect candidates to demonstrate what they can do by explaining what they have done. Too many candidates just cannot seem to do this, and spend the interview giving generic and vague outlines of what their team has done. They’re not looking to hire the team. If you want to impress the recruiter, never mind the end employer, explain specifically what you have done, and get to the point!  Resumes should be short and sweet, and then just tell us why you want the job and what you have done personally so that we say, as you leave the office, “Wow!” Simples.

Mechanical Services

The mechanical services industry from the tier one contractor side continues to flourish with our long standing clients. We are seeing increased demand for most positions but with high priority for technicians, Revit drafters, project managers and engineers, and sustainability consulting engineers. The geographical split between Victoria and New South Wales  seems to be 50/50.

A definite growth area is in data centres. We have multiple roles available for operators with electrical or mechanical backgrounds in critical process environments with exposure to UPS, HV, HVAC, rotating equipment etc. Great rotating shift roles. We are also seeking lead operators and site managers.

In the mainstream HVAC area, we are continuously seeking to talk with service technicians. We are expecting to see this  increasing demand continue well into the future.