Attracting talent in the electrotechnical industry – are we on the losing side? | LINIAN

Attracting talent in the electrotechnical industry – are we on the losing side? | LINIAN

Are we currently on the losing side of the war to win talent in the electrotechnical industry? Ian Arbuckle, CEO at LINIAN, discusses further.

A war for talent sounds like a dramatic statement intended to grab the eyes of the reader. Let me assure you it’s not. The simple fact is that fewer school leavers are actively seeking to study building services and graduate engineers are not currently leaving university and falling over themselves to join this industry, as they once were.

Some of the reasons could be seen as being out of our control. Industries such as software development, oil and gas, aerospace and defence are offering greater benefits, remuneration packages and career opportunities. For example, a Junior Developer entering a public sector role on graduation can expect to earn £75-100k per annum with excellent benefits and job security.

So, what can we do?

I’m part of the ‘internet/outernet generation’. We were the last kids to play outside until the street lights came on and the first to use the modern internet. I believe this allows us to provide a unique perspective on this situation. So here are my thoughts, musings, opinions and suggestions:

Digitise. Digitise. Digitise.

You may not require to or want to digitise your business, and that’s OK. But in terms of attracting young people to our industry, it’s an absolute MUST. The current generation of young engineers knows no different and to step into a role in an ‘analogue’ business would feel a bit like stepping back in time. If we do manage to attract talent it would be impossible to retain it just purely in this environment.

Be respectful and responsible

We have a whole generation who have a greater sense of social and environmental responsibility and quite frankly, feel ignored most of the time. We may not be able to offer ‘Developer’ big bucks but for a lot of young talent it’s not all about this. To be heard, understood, and contribute to making a difference in the world is more important. We need to listen to them.

Upskilling is overtaking promotion

It’s not 1985 anymore. ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ culture is stone dead and will not incentivise this generation. For some it may be hard to believe, but offers of a solid career path and an opportunity to contribute and upskill tends to trump a bonus cheque or a new BMW.

Treat young talent as you would mature talent

The days of coming in as the tea boy and working your way up are over. We’re recruiting for responsible roles so why wouldn’t we give responsibility and rewards quickly? Young engineers know their worth these days and (some of) the older generation could benefit from catching up to that fact!

So, in this battle to attract talent in our industry, are we on the losing side? It is the humble opinion of this sparky-turned-engineer-turned-CEO that we are. Minor changes to our attitudes, culture and business practices could turn this fight around. All we have to do is open our minds and hearts to change. Let’s fight together and win.

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