Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BP's concerns come as no surprise

Our blog has moved. You will find this blog post and fresh content on our new Global Engineering Jobs blog.
By Andrew Rowlands

I was unsurprised to read that BP is struggling to find home-grown engineers to redevelop two oilfields in the North Sea (Sunday Telegraph, August 15). Sadly, the problem is not restricted to BP or the oil and gas industry. It is set to get worse because the output from British engineering-related degrees is static at best and the current workforce is aging rapidly.

I was also not surprised to learn that BP's Trevor Garlick linked the shortage to a 'brain drain'. We will need more new engineers than we think to simply tread water because engineering is the ultimate 'have skills will travel' profession. Research among the 300,000 engineers on our global database shows that three quarters of 21 to 30 year old British engineers want to work overseas, where their skills are increasingly in demand.

On the current trajectory, with a declining pool of recruits and overseas competition for talent affecting the supply side, we will surely be in crisis if the Government's plans to rebalance the economy towards industry comes to fruition. That is why the intervention by Sir John Parker, the new President at the Royal Academy of Engineering who called recently for a 50% increase in university qualified engineers per year, is to be welcomed.

If the Government fails in its goals and Sir John succeeds we should not let the thought of legions of unemployed engineers put us off from pursuing his ambitious targets. There will be plenty to keep our engineers occupied overseas even if their departure signifies a successful export industry we would rather not have.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Australian Engineers Week – Who cares? (apart from us engineers.)

Our blog has moved. You will find this blog post and fresh content on our new Global Engineering Jobs blog.
 by Richard Spragg

Anyone who owns a television knows that this week is one of the most important weeks in the annual calendar. From August 1st – August 7th the world comes together to honor the most advanced and powerful beings on earth. That’s right folks, it’s Shark Week. 

Every nature channel, newspaper and magazine is dominated by savage looking pictures of these four hundred million year old beasts leaping ten feet out of the water and ripping their prey to shreds. Everyone loves a good shark – not up close and personal maybe, but few things make a better photograph or news story than a Great White. 

It’s also Australian Engineers Week. This is not quite so high profile, but perhaps that’s understandable, after all engineers can’t smell a single drop of blood in the ocean from a mile away. (Although I met a project director or two who would have a bloody good try.)

The comparison got a few of us here to thinking about the real source of a lot of our problems in the global engineering community. In a world where we see skill shortages almost everywhere, where technical projects of all shapes and sizes are threatened by a lack of available resources, we have to ask ourselves – what are we doing to attract more people into our industry? How can we make a career in engineering appealing to the next generation of potential engineers? 

This week, Engineers Australia (www.engineersaustralia.org) published its statistical overview for 2011 and one of the major conclusions of the study is that the number of new graduates entering the field has grown much slower than demand. We simply aren’t bringing as many people into engineering at a ground floor level as we need to. 

The results of low entry to the industry are obvious. Above all it means an increased dependence on overseas workers (52% of the engineering labor market was born overseas, compared to an average of 36% in other industries.) Engineering is a global community – there will always be an important flow of skills across national borders, and Australia is no different from any other country in importing necessary skills as they’re needed. But ultimately, Australia must grow and develop a home grown resource pool for everyone’s benefit and evidence shows that its ability to do that has flat lined. 

The solution has to come from inside the industry. What are we doing, as engineers, as employers, as contractors and as agencies to encourage increased participation from the next generation of engineers?

If the answer is ‘nothing’, then we cannot complain when our projects run out of staff, the majority of our workforce comes from outside Australia and our ability to deliver projects suffers now and in the future.

You don’t have to be a shark to see the trouble coming a long way off.

Talascend Australia is currently working with major employers in Australia's engineering market to find original answers to skill shortage issues. To contact us, visit www.talascend.com/australia

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Projected Decrease in U.S. Telecom Industry Employment May Present Hiring Opportunities for Telecom Firms

Our blog has moved. You will find this blog post and fresh content on our new Global Engineering Jobs blog.
by Mike Moriarty

With the entire industry buzzing about upgrades from 3G to 4G and fiber optic installations, it’s hard to believe that a downturn in telecommunications employment is on the way.  However, the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2010-2011 industry report projects a 9% decrease in telecom industry employment for the period 2008 to 2018.
What does this mean to your company?  It certainly doesn’t mean that the industry is dead. Instead, it is in a state of flux. In fact, a recent article suggests industry spending on new technology will be up through 2012. (2) Simply put, it means opportunity for hiring managers to connect with top industry talent as the changes play out.

The current BLS report suggests an 11% reduction in the number of those employed in the wired sector and a 1% decrease in the wireless sector of the industry. Demonstrated productivity increases as new, more robust technologies are deployed, as well as the consolidation of providers and industry support companies, are largely credited with these decreases.  The wireless sector is constantly upgrading networks as new technologies emerge, however, upgrades are far less labor intensive than new construction.  In the wired sector, competition with wireless providers and the reliability of fiber optic networks over copper are reducing the need for repair and installation technicians. The report suggests that the need customer service reps will actually increase as a result of increased consumer demand for services and support.

The Challenge for Hiring Professionals 
As the demand for workers decreases, the number of skilled, reliable candidates available increases. It’s great for your business with the exception that connecting with the talent you need, when you need it, is a real challenge.  The best candidates for your next big upgrade or detailed site study may be in the middle of Oregon and you may be in Texas. Your job requirements may match some, but not all of their skill set.  They may have forgotten to check the “willing to relocate” box on their job board. The whole time, they have all-star credentials, are ready to move at a moment’s notice and are perfect for your job.  Yet, you don’t connect.

The Opportunity
Resourcing firms specializing in technology and engineering solutions have already done the legwork.  Their job is to pre-qualify candidates for specialized positions and immediate mobilization. If they’re doing it right, they also get the whole story behind your hiring needs.  

Sergio Aguirre, an Account Executive at global technology resources company Talascend in Troy, MI says, “It’s very important that your resourcing partner asks the right questions. They should be asking questions like, ‘You gave me the job description and requirements but, who are you really looking to hire?  What’s not on the job description that you really want?’ Look for a firm that digs a little deeper and you’re more likely to get better results.”

VP of Sales at Talascend, Debra Timmerman, concurs, “Customers should expect their resourcing partner to pre-qualify proven, talented candidates before they are presented. There is a lot of diversity in the telecom marketplace.  While one engineer may specialize in fiber, another may be a cellular expert, or both. You might even find a line technician that is working toward a P.E. designation.  Those are the types of things that can get missed on a resume. Pre-qualification’s end result is that your positions are filled more quickly, with the best fit possible, even in highly-specialized areas of employment.”    

Are Resourced Technical Solutions Right for Your Telecom Enterprise?
Only you can make that decision. Technical resource firms often offer a range of contracts from temporary, project-by-project staffing to permanent, direct-hire services. With large teams of recruiters specializing in various technical fields, they often make your search and hiring processes exponentially faster. They offer services on an competitive or RPO basis.  Look for a firm with worldwide reach to increase your chances of finding the most qualified candidates. Also look for a resourcing partner that is a member of professional staffing organizations.  

In this day and age of marketplace uncertainty, it pays to have a partner ready to step-in and perform when you need it most. A technical resourcing firm may be the answer to helping you meet the challenge.