Engineering Recruitment – Market Commentary – October 2019

The engineering recruitment market continues to be volatile although there are some areas such as technology and building services where lots of interesting opportunities abound, albeit the roles are often quite challenging to fill!! Other areas such as manufacturing and operations still present opportunities although volumes are less than at the same time last year. In uncertain economic times, we often see the number of contractor roles increasing in lieu of permanent positions, due to headcount freezes for example, and we are well equipped and positioned to help both candidates and clients with short to long term contractor assignments. Another interesting phenomenon we continue to see is the ongoing search for diversity and balance within workplaces, which in turn creates extra opportunities for all. In these unpredictable times where GDP growth is low, we are delighted to have increased the bench strength of our technology recruitment team with Andy Licht recently joining the team. So please do not hesitate to contact us anytime with any of your engineering career or recruitment requirements and our dedicated and experienced group will be delighted to help. 

Building Services Commentary
If you are a senior HVAC engineer with high-level consulting skills then you need to get in contact with us for your next opportunity. Building services as a whole is booming and 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. We still have a big demand for HVAC service technicians (both mechanical and electrical), sprinkler fitters and alarm panel technicians across Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. We have been saying this for a while, but it is still true – the data center sector is booming! We are seeking candidates for permanent roles, particularly in Sydney. 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!! 

Consulting Engineering Commentary
The emerging recruiting requirement is shifting from the need to build teams to manage and deliver current works to a focus on planning for the future: succession planning has taken a front seat with a number of employers. Interestingly, we’ve also seen a few established boutique companies branching into other large cities around Australia, which underlines that the engineering market continues to invest in growth with confidence. A trend that is increasingly prevalent is the requirement for specialised skilled draftspeople across the civil, structural and mechanical engineering streams.  There is a strong demand for draftspersons with temporary works, facade, heavy automotive and hydraulics experience. Please visit our website to view opportunities.  

Engineering and Operations Commentary
“We are consolidating” is a phrase that is becoming all too familiar. The majority of clients who normally seek engineering and operational staff sense the lack of confidence in manufacturing, although the latest indicators suggest that manufacturing is on the improve. The Australian Industry Group Performance of Manufacturing Index shows an improvement of 1.6 points, indicating positive growth across manufacturing. The lack of confidence in manufacturing is clearly reflected in the amount of new recruitment enquiries which we have received over the last few months. The drop has been quite staggering, however, we anticipate that the improving manufacturing economy will slowly help restore confidence, and thus deliver positive results in the latter part of October and into November. During this period contract roles appeared to overshadow permanent opportunities, and the demand for example for Revit and SolidWorks contractors was actually higher than normal, which would also emphasise the lack of confidence in manufacturing.

Technology Commentary
More traditional software, firmware, hardware demand and supply are gradually being eclipsed by “web” and “cloud” technology stack demand, as we move into Industrial Revolution 4.0 – in fact we are well and truly in it. Those sectors which have tended to be dominated by low level functionality are now crying out for engineers who can interface system functionality via the web/cloud. The big players (banks/insurers/finance houses) have been absorbing a high proportion of these talented people up till now but recently we have sensed that a number are being “let go” (to use a common euphemism for “contract terminated”). The effect of this is we have noticed a number of web developer candidates available or about to become available but still looking for relatively inflated salaries. This is, in our view, not entirely realistic, when comparing a very attractive contract rate with a big bank to what a medium sized product development company can pay as a permanent salary. Having had a taste of a sweet delicacy, it is hard to go back to plain fare. Some salary expectations seem quite out of sync with what the mainstream market is prepared and able to pay.

Generally speaking, in keeping with the economic weather forecast, we sense a chill wind blowing up and this may continue till well into the New Year.  Employers still want the best candidate they can find, but are not always prepared to offer a 20% pay rise to get you. So, candidates, beware of being perceived as asking for more than is realistic. $100 per hour as a contractor does not equate to an equivalent permanent salary of $200k, and maybe not even $150k!  And once the contract is over, what then?  Zero income. We hope this short reality check might be beneficial for some.