The engineering sector is a vital part of the UK economy – in 2018 it made up 27% of the 2.67 million registered enterprises and contributed nearly 25% of total UK GDP. Here, Anthony Hennessy, client solutions manager at Integrated Food Projects, explores the many questions that engineering companies will face as we enter a post-Brexit landscape.
12-years on, productivity in the UK is still reeling from the effects from the 2008 financial crisis. Growth in the engineering sector continues to lag behind that of other G7 nations and alongside the considerable shortage of skilled workers and the many unknowns of ongoing post Brexit negotiations, the sector could be facing a perfect storm in the coming years.
There is currently a shortfall in excess of 20,000 new graduates entering engineering jobs each year, so it’s important to look ahead and try to understand how the post-Brexit engineering landscape will look for those businesses trying to recruit into the sector.
In 2018, almost 20% of all workers employed in the engineering sector were non-UK nationals. This is clearly a huge proportion of a vital industry, so any changes to immigration laws and work visas throughout the Brexit process are going to impact massively on engineering businesses, and the UK economy as a whole.
A recent whitepaper from the Government detailed a new ‘streamlined’ process whereby engineering companies will be required to apply for a ‘Sponsorship License’ if they want to employ non-UK nationals post-Brexit. While the business itself will need a license, the individual applying for the job will also require a Tier 2 Work Visa. These Visas come with a number of expectations, such as a minimum salary of £30,000 per annum – well beyond the industry average for a graduate role.
The coming years may be challenging and plugging the talent shortfall should be front and centre of engineering business leaders’ minds. There will be additional obstacles for the industry to overcome. We should be calling on the Government to help ease the pressure of further recruitment hurdles that Brexit is likely to bring. Should non-UK nationals be offered lower tuition fees or other incentives to study in the UK? Will incentives be offered to non-UK nationals to seek employment in engineering roles in the UK? These types of initiatives are just a couple of ideas, but with the engineering sector already struggling with a shortfall in both experienced professionals and new graduates, the post-Brexit engineering landscape only looks set to toughen conditions for business operators.
Integrated Food Projects have partnered with Kettleby Foods on a number of high-profile multi-million pound capital projects since 2003/4, helping the business to develop and grow. Throughout that time they have provided cost-effective and efficient solutions on development projects both at our existing ready meals production facility and also in creating a new satellite facility. The projects at our existing facility were managed without impact on our ability to service our own clients, and all projects have been delivered within budget, in a timely fashion and to the requisite standards of safety and quality. Their team work ethos and professional approach ensure successful projects and I would utilise Integrated Food Projects in the future without hesitation.
- Jarrod Thorndyke, Production Director
I have worked with Integrated Food Projects on many capital expenditure projects since 2004, the latest being the development of the new plot of land adjacent to our main site. They successfully employed a project delivery process to ensure the integration of a leased modular building solution with the development of the site infrastructure to improve logistics and Health and Safety. Their staff are always positive and enthusiastic and have fostered a team-work approach ensuring another successful project delivered. I look forward to working with them again in the near future.
- Engineering Manager, Major UK Ready Meals Manufacturer