Engineering Recruitment – Market Commentary – October 2018

After changing our name from Australia Wide Personnel to Australia Wide Engineering Recruitment, we haven’t looked back. We believe that this has been one of the reasons behind the increase in meaningful new client enquiries.

Last quarter we reported that 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 have virtually seen a reversal of this situation, with record placements in the September quarter and we don’t see it turning down any time soon. We continue to be optimistic about the demand for engineering, manufacturing & construction professionals, software and hardware engineers, and we’re continuing to build our own internal team strongly as a result. 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.

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.

Construction and Consulting Engineering

The Engineering Design & Construction market remains buoyant, particularly across the eastern states of Australia. With large numbers of construction projects underway and a significant number of cranes in our skies, it’s always a positive sign for the economy and an indicator of our infrastructure expansion. Concurrently, there are further plans afoot at the feasibility and basic design stage, with major marine, road, rail and commercial buildings topping the list. The Oil & Gas / Energy sector is making a recovery as the oil price increases and Oil and Gas operators are engaging more contractors and consultancies to fabricate facilities.

Multi-disciplinary positions are in demand, from mechanical, electrical, civil & structural in design to delivery, with an equal appetite for safety management professionals with recognised qualifications. Local relevant experience, career stability, performance and attitude are some of the qualities separating candidates from one group to another. Employees that are mobile, who can move from project to project across engineering and execution phases are highly sought after as more contractors in particular, seek a fluid workforce after completion of specific projects. Notably, the Tier 2 and Tier 3 main contractors are becoming more competitive, offering greater diversity of tasks to their employees due to few layers of management. Given they’re competing with the ‘big boys’, they are able to remunerate well, offering benefits and competitive salaries.

Engineering, Operations and Trades

Steady growth and consolidation appear to be the key factors which are driving manufacturing and engineering forward into the last quarter of 2018, and this is reflected by the Ai Group’s September 2018 ‘Performance of Manufacturing Index’ which indicates ‘two years of uninterrupted expansion’ in manufacturing.

There is a continued and steady requirement for employees across many different industries and manufacturing sectors, and thus we are fielding inquiries ranging from fitters, mechanics, boilermakers, engineers, operations managers, general managers, etc. The balance appears to be split equally between casual and permanent employment.

As in previous quarters, the roles which appear hardest to fill are those of diesel mechanics and field service technicians. Whilst there are a number of reasons behind this, the overriding factors appear to be 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 requiring the same disciplines. This is across Melbourne, Sydney and the ACT. The data centre sector is booming and we are already 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.

Finally, there is strong growth in demand for those with experience of working in security systems design, installation and commissioning.

Software and Hardware Technology

Hiring confidence remains high, at most levels but primarily for experienced developers – firmware in the main has had quite a resurgence this year. Employers across the board have been in expansion and therefore hiring mode. Why is this? Economists can determine that, but from our standpoint, it has meant that we have seen consistent demand for most of the year, which now has the finishing line almost in sight. Supply of experienced developers has mostly kept pace with market demand, yet there are always gaps in supply, for example, thoroughly competent C++ developers, with substantial experience. Maybe C++ is seen as yesterday’s development language of choice, while all the variants of JavaScript (angular, react and so on) are on the rise. We cannot steer the market in any direction, we can only reflect what is taking place at the hiring end of the food chain.

The year to date has been, without doubt, the most active since the dark days of late 2008 and 2009 into 2010 (Global Financial Crisis, if you are too young to remember!), and we watch with interest whether other world as well as local events will aid or hinder business confidence going into 2019. The message for job applicants is, as always, to approach the hiring process with people like us, as well the employer, with a straightforward and clear narrative as to what you have done and what you want to do and how much you think you should be paid for doing it. And then let the process take its course. Inevitably many more are disappointed than satisfied as a result of their application or interest in a job – if only we could please everyone!