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  • by Trevor Loveday

Engineers in “exodus” from water sector

The water industry is facing “an exodus of engineers”, with 70% of professionals considering a move to other sectors in the next two years according to a recent recruitment sector report.

The Water Industry Labour Report from Murray McIntosh’s water industry recruitment arm, Water by Murray, found that most engineers considering working in an alternative sector were looking to posts in renewables, nuclear, and oil and gas. This, according to the report, is reflected in “a major talent shortage in the water industry, with 26% of the recruiters surveyed listing ‘hiring and skills’ as the single largest issue facing their company.”

The study of over 3,900 engineers from across the water industry also revealed that water industry employers face an acute shortage of experienced engineers. Murray said this should “sound alarm bells for firms already struggling to recruit ahead of AMP8.”

These findings, Murray said, were even more concerning in the light of the UK’s retirement cliff, reported last year by consultant, Stonehaven, whose study found that over one-fifth of the engineering workforce is set to retire by 2030.

Elsewhere, Murray’s research revealed that 42% of engineers did not feel that they had access to relevant training that would enable them to innovate at work, with organisational structures and working cultures listed as the main factors hindering this.

Associate director at Water by Murray, Teo De La Cruz, said the engineer shortage was “particularly acute” in the water sector: “This should be of significant concern, not just to the industry but to the country as a whole.” He called for greater focus in the water sector on retaining engineers with “a more tailored and invested approach to recruitment and retention”. He added: “Our report found that engineers are almost as equally motivated by job satisfaction as they are by pay, showing that rate increases alone won’t do the job.”


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