Good engineers are almost impossible to find
The shortage of engineers in the fire industry is as bad as ever, according to feedback gathered for the latest FIA Market Conditions Report. Several respondents to the FIA (Fire Industry Association) survey, which canvasses the views of businesses in the fire industry twice a year, reported ongoing problems with the recruitment of engineers. In line with other economic trends plunging sterling aside the effects of June s vote in favour of Brexit on the fire sector has apparently been less significant than may have been expected.
A decline in sales was reported, but this was only slight , according to FIA CEO Ian Moore, who commented on the findings during a recent webinar. The FIA, which works with the DIT (formerly UKTI) and BSi to promote and support its members exports overseas, also found that exporters were most likely to report that they had seen slightly more exports or that they had broadly stayed the same in the last six months. What happens after or even if the UK actually leaves the EU, obviously remains to be seen. Moore also noted the strong appetite for increasing training provision over the next six months. One figure from the fire industry who completed the survey said the recruitment problem was so bad that good engineers are still almost impossible to find on the open recruitment market. In our case, this seems to be particularly so in the M1 corridor. Noting that skilled labour is hard to find and comes with a premium, another respondent offered this prescription for remedying the problem: Companies should therefore look to the future and invest in apprenticeships and implement multi-skilled training programmes for existing engineers the results of which will improve customer experience while reducing project costs. Another of those polled noted a rise in wages, as well echoing the widespread sentiment about the skills shortage: Recruitment of engineers is becoming more difficult and salaries are higher so I take that as a sign of an upturn in the economy. Among other notable feedback from manufacturers and service providers was an observation about price pressure: Due to increased routes to market of fire vendors and increased number of installers quoting for fire jobs, price pressure is increasing across the board, this is reducing margins for distributers and installers alike and this creates an offset between profit requirements and the obvious need for training of installers.
Is the FIA aware of the pressure and are there plans to tackle this issue? Ian Moore agreed that the industry had a major role to play in combating the dearth of skilled talent. Speaking in the webinar he noted: We are not known as an industry by people leaving school or university that you d naturally go to, and we need to make sure that we raise our profile there is a problem right now, quite clearly, so we must change and invest . Right now, the training IS available, the apprenticeships ARE available, but we need to make sure that these are more taken up by everybody in the future, and this will solve this medium to long-term problem. In the webinar, Moore also discussed the merits of mandatory certification to improve the competence of engineers. Download the latest FIA Market Conditions Review and listen to the webinar in which FIA CEO Ian Moore discuss the results and their implications for the fire industry. Free download covering legal requirements for responsible persons under the FSO, courtesy of the IOSH, BIFM and USHA approved UK provider of health, safety and environmental information.
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