What to consider when recruiting engineering contractors
Engineers keep the world moving and push innovation forwards. As the world faces new challenges like climate change and food insecurity, the role of engineers is becoming more and more crucial. And we’re lucky that our recruiters are there to help companies find the crème de la crème of engineering talent. In our recent IR35 survey, you told us that engineering was the most popular industry where you place contractors. In fact, 45% of recruiters said they place engineering contractors. It’s a fast-paced sector with specific requirements for skills, experience and education. So, what should staffing businesses consider when recruiting in the engineering sector?
It’s estimated that 5.5 million people in the UK work in engineering, so it’s a huge industry in terms of recruitment. Recently, engineering has been hit by a skills shortage due to factors like Brexit, a lack of diversity among trainees, and an increasing number of engineers approaching retirement age with fewer new graduates to replace their skills. Recruiters can therefore play a vital role in matching up end clients with skilled, experienced engineering contractors.
What are the main types of engineering?
“Engineering” is actually a cover-all for a huge range of different, related professions, each with its own unique set of skills. However, many contractor engineers will have skills that are transferable from one specialism to another, with appropriate support and training.
It used to be that engineers would be grouped and trained according to four categories:
- civil engineering
- electrical engineering
- mechanical engineering
- chemical engineering
While these broad stroke categories can still be useful, behind them hides a multitude of different roles and expert niches, including aerospace, defence, environmental, facilities, systems, marine and telecommunications. Fast-growing fields include software engineering, biomedical engineering and environmental engineering. Oil and gas engineers are also still in high demand, with an ageing workforce in this sector leading to higher rates of vacancies.
What skills should I look for in engineering contractors?
As a recruiter, it’s a good idea to be able to anticipate what types of skills, experience and expertise your end clients will be hungry for to fill their engineering contractor vacancies. The government has identified engineering as one of the shortage occupations in the UK. The Institution of Engineering and Technology produced a Skills Survey in 2021 in which nearly half (49%) of engineering businesses said they were having difficulties recruiting candidates with the right skills. So, what are companies looking for? As well as evidence of having received an engineering education through a degree, apprenticeship or technical course, end clients are also asking for contractors with specific sector knowledge; tech know-how including IT skills; and evidence of analytical thinking and problem solving. Soft skills like communication and teamwork should also not be overlooked. Contractors who have the above attributes, plus the ability to project manage and a track record of leadership, are likely to be in the very highest demand.
Who are the top engineering companies?
When you think of engineering, there are likely some big names that spring instantly to mind: Jaguar Land Rover, Network Rail, Dyson, BAE Systems and Siemens to name just a few. However, it’s also true that the majority of the engineering sector is made up of SMEs – small- and medium-sized enterprises. For recruiters, it’s worth investing into building relationships with engineering firms of all sizes. While larger companies may offer a faster turnover of vacancies and have more open roles to fill, smaller companies will often appreciate the support and expertise a recruiter can bring to save them valuable time in-house.
What insurance cover should engineering contractors hold?
Recruiters should ensure that any contractor that they place into an engineering role has appropriate business insurance cover. Clients will typically specify in their contracts the minimum amounts of cover they wish contractors to hold. However, it’s important to emphasise to your contractors that insurance is there to protect them too. If something were to go wrong on a job, they will benefit from having an expert legal defence team so that they can carry on working while the case is resolved, and cover for any fees or compensation owed to other parties. At Kingsbridge, we’ve put together a specialist package of business insurance tailored towards the needs of engineering contractors:
- Professional indemnity cover should be one of the first things self-employed engineers consider, as this will protect from mistakes, negligence, bad advice or other things in their work that could cause their clients to suffer losses.
- Public liability insurance is also a must, as these jobs often involve the use of specialist technical equipment and engineers have a high degree of responsibility for public safety.
- Employers’ liability insurance is a legal essential if the contractor brings in anyone else to support their business, even if that is a contractual substitute or a spouse supporting with admin duties.
- Directors’ and Officers’ liability insurance offers peace of mind to the contractor as a company director, covering accusations of wrongful acts as an individual, like health and safety breaches, negligence and financial mismanagement (including legal defence for both civil cases and criminal prosecution).
- Finally, because contractors depend on being able to work, Kingsbridge’s cover also includes occupational personal accident cover, which will offer a weekly payment of up to £500 to cover loss of earnings while they recover (up to a maximum of 52 weeks), as well as lump sum payments in the event of death or disability at work.
For a detailed run-down of the different types of insurance that we recommend your contractor base should hold, you can refer back to our in-depth blog.
To cover the needs of today’s engineers, Kingsbridge’s contractor insurance is international as standard – with the exception of the US and Canada, though we can add on this cover too. We can also offer protection for elements of the job with additional risk, such as offshore working, working at height and manual work. Having business insurance is an IR35 indicator for your contractors, and we can also supplement our standard contractor insurance package with IR35 insurance, flexible cover that protects everyone in the staffing chain in the event of an IR35 investigation.
Kingsbridge can provide recruiters with sign-up literature and support in helping your contractors choose insurance that protects them and the end client. Recruiters can partner with Kingsbridge through our affiliate scheme and receive a reward every time one of your contractors purchases a Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance policy. For more information, or help and support with engineering contractor insurance compliance, get in touch with our partnerships team today.