Growth or consolidation in the engineering sector – a recruiter’s perspective.

From major infrastructure to smaller local projects, there’s currently an abundance of work in the engineering sector - covering both multidisciplinary and niche firms. 

This gives businesses two distinct opportunities. They can choose to consolidate and stick to their core offering or they can diversify into other disciplines - offering clients more services, but potentially taking on more risk and reward.

Where does your business stand? Is it time to grow or consolidate over the next three to six months? And how will this potentially impact your recruitment and HR strategies? We’ll investigate these questions in the following article.

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A recruitment view - consolidation or growth 

CGC is seeing examples of clients that are building additional and complementary capabilities in their businesses to service clients more holistically. However, at the other end of the spectrum, some businesses aren’t willing to take on any additional reputational or operational risks by employing people outside their core service lines.

In a rapidly growing and changing market, can companies afford to tread water? If the aim is to stay still in a changing environment, you might unintentionally be going backward! Maybe not in the short term, but if competitors are diversifying, they could erode hard-won market share over the longer term. And, in volatile times, this is often at the core of corporate strategy setting, which, of course, drives resourcing.

 

Supporting growth across the business 

Intrinsically, engineers want to stretch themselves and solve bigger and more complex problems. So if companies don’t grow and take on interesting work, businesses could struggle to retain and even attract top talent. For recruiters, it’s often compelling to talk to engineers about dynamic cultures taking on interesting projects with new technical challenges. It’s an easy sell!

On this journey, these growth factors don’t necessarily focus on technical skills. Clients must also consider business, management, and sales skills, plus skills in other areas. Because many engineers are technically strong, but don’t always have the client-facing skills, there isn’t always a depth of aptitude in the market. This makes finding well-rounded candidates - or those willing to learn these skills - difficult.

This can be a challenge, or a barrier to growth, for companies as they don’t always have the right people to win work or manage clients. So companies are getting creative to solves these issues, which includes upskilling and bringing in technical support services to help their teams.  

In some instances, we have seen mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships help provide diversified offerings. But these can be difficult to manage and require new leadership.  The resulting changes can impact the culture both positively or negatively, which can influence HR and recruitment.

 

International talent pools

Over the years, the government has been working hard to plug Australia’s talent shortages. Historically, one strategy has always been to target international talent pools, however caps on arrivals due to the pandemic are making mobility difficult. 

This works for large businesses that have the infrastructure and talent globally to redeploy staff as required. Of course, this means they don’t have to recruit locally and can rapidly bring in people and/or teams who understand their business, operations, processes, culture etc. 

While there have been changes to visas and fast-tracking opportunities, this is not filtering through to people arriving. And that’s unlikely to change in the short term.

 

Strategic hires – making the most of your headcount

The lack of skills and availability are forcing companies to get both creative and strategic, making hiring and onboarding part of a company's future vision. This means organisations need to look beyond technical skills and consider factors, such as:

  • Sales and client management – A company may decide to hire a technical candidate with client relationships, account management, or sales experience if they can find them. Businesses are also looking at a mix of sales and account management specialists. 
  • Adaptability and creative skills - The ability to adapt quickly to new situations and processes is becoming more important.  Furthermore, identifying engineers who are creative and look for new ways of looking at things is another soft skill that may be valuable to organisations.
  • Business and management skills – For engineers with aspirations of leading a team, it’s important to choose candidates that possess essential management skills. These types of candidates understand what motivates colleagues and know how to exercise influence.
  • Digital engineering - There has been a shift to onshore high touch high value-adding digital engineering design services, providing a pathway to drafting roles to upskill into digital, building internal capabilities, like 2-D and 8-D modelling.  
  • Remote working and virtual teams – This is now a key consideration for many hires. Some businesses are more forward-thinking in this area than others building virtual teams.  Tier 2 firms and SMEs offer hybrid solutions, but don’t always fully support this area.  And in a land of snap lockdowns, this can cause issues.

 

Conclusion 

The engineering sector has a wealth of opportunities, but there’s still the age-old issue of skill shortages. These are now further compounded by the mobility and working constraints of the pandemic.  For companies with the right recruitment strategies, there are short, medium, and long-term opportunities from major infrastructure to smaller local projects.

While the appetite for risk could be a limiting factor, businesses should be taking on compelling work with a clear proposition. This then flows through the business and creates client attraction and EVP (employer value proposition) for candidates. This doesn’t mean you’ll attract everybody, but you’ll attract the right people. 

Strategic hiring is not a rushed decision.  It's a process that involves planning and onboarding to produce better outcomes for your business. CGC can help you start recruiting.  Our collaborative approach means we can ensure the needs of the role aligns with the current and future needs of your business.

 

About CGC Recruitment

CGC Recruitment is a specialist construction, infrastructure, engineering, and architecture recruitment consultancy.  We view our clients as our partners and work closely with them to meet their business needs. We work with some of Australia’s largest construction brands through to specialist SME’s and boutique consultants. We have proven experience delivering permanent, contract and retained recruitment solutions, consistently providing the right candidates for the right roles at the right time.

If you have an active role you’d like to discuss or just want to talk to a specialist consultant, please contact usAlternatively, you can complete our online client form and a member of our team will contact you.