Results from Reed’s recent report ‘Meeting the People Challenge’ indicate that employers large and small have been seeking alternatives to redundancy, such as extended holidays and flexible working schemes. Whilst many engineering firms have been unable to avoid lay-offs, others have fared better and are now planning to hire. Mark Blay, Area Manager for Reed Engineering in St Albans, agrees that many of his clients have sought to avoid redundancies – but for many, it’s just not possible: ‘There have been more instances of unpaid leave; less so for reduced working hours,’ he says. ‘And of course, some companies regard the current situation as an opportunity to have a clear-out. But good candidates – people who in a different economic climate would have a choice of new roles – are still being released.’
Amongst Reed Engineering’s clients, candidates in electrical and mechanical maintenance jobs have been in the firing line. ‘If order books are down, and production lines are not running at full capacity, there’s less plant to look after,’ says Blay. ‘Although building maintenance people have been less adversely affected.’ Many organisations are holding on to key senior people in readiness for a future surge in business. Yet companies with more complex hierarchies have been forced to strip out layers of management. According to Blay, business development and sales people in consulting firms have been hit hard: ‘Even though market forces are mostly to blame – rather than poor selling or account management skills – if business isn’t coming in, companies can’t afford to employ them.’
Engineering employers don’t appear to be stepping up with temporary recruitment,despite that being the case in other sectors. ‘It can appear unfair making redundancies and subsequently hiring temporary employees, but the temporaries regularly have varied skill sets, whilst enabling short-term flexibility, and can be released at a moment’s notice. Once order books improve and there is a more confident long-term outlook for the companies concerned, they may then revert to permanent hires.’
For more information on engineering recruitment and jobs offered by Reed Specialist Recruitment, please visit their website reedglobal.com.