London - Demand for engineering skills is continuing to defy the otherwise weak jobs market, buoyed by a surge in infrastructure investment, according to research by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo). The research shows that demand for engineering candidates has risen throughout the eurozone crisis, as demand for highly skilled candidates in other sectors falls. Vacancies for engineers were up 1% year-on-year in January for permanent candidates; vacancies for temps and contractors were up 7% year-on-year in January.

Recently released official data shows that investment in infrastructure rocketed 23.5% year-on-year to a record £3.6 billion in Q4 2011, from £2.9 billion in Q4 2010. Infrastructure investment in 2011 was at its highest level since 1980. APSCo says that demand for engineering contractors is particularly strong in the energy sector, including oil & gas, renewable energy and power transmission. In other sectors, such as aerospace, skills shortages are still an issue.

The research is from the APSCo Monthly Trends Report, which analyses job vacancies and placements across the UK professional staffing sector. The report compares data from thousands of vacancies and placements supplied by APSCo members who place professional candidates within the UK. Ann Swain, chief executive for APSCo, said:

"Engineering remains the bright spot among the professional jobs market at the moment. Crossrail is Europe's largest construction project and has created huge demand for engineering and project management specialists. With the Government focused on boosting investment in UK infrastructure projects, demand for engineering skills should remain buoyant."
"The UK has a long-term shortage of engineering skills. With demand so strong, the Government needs to ensure that the UK's historical underproduction of engineering skills does not impede growth in vitals sectors such as oil & gas and power generation."
"Given the supply-side constraints, and with hirers facing growing competition for skills, pressure on pay in the engineering sector is likely to intensify this year," added Swain.

According to the APSCo research, vacancies for permanent professionals (bankers, lawyers, media executives etc.) were down by 17% year-on-year in January as businesses continued to put hiring plans to one side. Vacancies for contractors and temporary workers were down 8% year-on-year, demand having peaked in July 2011, just before the eurozone crisis erupted.

"This time last year UK businesses were far more bullish about their growth prospects and many were looking to beef up their staff numbers in anticipation of increased demand. Employers are now very much in 'wait and see' mode," noted Swain.

FURTHER INFORMATION Jenrick Engineering is a recruitment partner for many of the leading Engineering Corporations within the UK, providing an array of contract and permanent job opportunities for engineers who operate within this sector. If you would like to  explore job opportunities within the engineering sector, or wish to seek advice regarding recruiting contractors or permanent staff, please contact our offices at Burton on Trent (on 01283 548 121) or Crick, Northampton (on 01788 824555). Source: