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How should engineering recruitment agencies prepare for the busy ending of the financial year?

It's the end of the financial year and spirits are in the sky. 

Okay, that won't make much sense to those who aren't familiar with The Office, but we're getting to the point of the year where the financial year is ending. 

From the 12 months from April, industries and employers throughout the UK will have budgets set out for the coming year; as we enter the final month, how do demands on recruitment agencies in Engineering change?

Industries that need engineers

Innovative. Creative. Designers. These are just some of the words that can describe engineers. Their education and training across a number of fields is reflected in the variety of different environments these professionals can find work in. 

A thriving industry, Engineering is populated by 1.7 million employees in the UK, boasting work opportunities for entry level applicants, all the way up to senior management positions. 

We could list each and every industry sector that requires the input of engineers but that list would be lengthy! What is certain is the number of sectors are wide-ranging. 

The Construction industry is an obvious one; engineers here will be key to planning and directing projects.

The profession is a huge part of the Automotive industry too, designing, producing vehicles. 

As we hit March, are companies scrambling to complete projects, therefore requiring engineers, or does work slow down, therefore negating the need for these employees?

Aerospace, Computing, Defence, Manufacturing, Rail, Software and Surveying are just some of the sectors where Engineering is prevalent. And this is nowhere near an exhaustive list. 

Companies in all of these sectors will have budgets specifically designated for projects throughout the financial year, where engineering work is required. 

Throughout the year, Engineering recruitment agencies will be needed to source professionals in these differing disciplines, but how does the demand change?

As we hit March, are companies scrambling to complete projects, therefore requiring engineers, or does work slow down, therefore negating the need for these employees?

Engineering recruitment demands

Unsurprisingly, it's not a 'one size fits all' answer. 

Typically, the type of work engineers encounter towards the end of the financial year are temporary assignments required to deliver year end progress.

It's not set in stone that, as we come to the end of the financial year in the first week of April, engineers are necessarily required in the UK. 

However, the general trend is that Engineering staff are needed around this time to give expertise as a stop-gap solution, rather than on a long-term basis. 

The reason, according to Liam Murray, Client Services Director at BPS World, is to deliver progress at the year end that is targeted. 

He said: "Typically, the type of work engineers encounter towards the end of the financial year are temporary assignments required to deliver year end progress. 

"This work can also be for projects that have budgeted spend."

Instead, the need is for employees who can work in a temporary capacity for a short amount of time, in order to fulfil requirements before the end of the financial year.

However, these requests aren't universal and don't represent the experiences of all recruitment agencies. 

Moreover, demands can differ depending on the industry in need of an engineer; some need to focus on achieving deliverable aspects of a project while others have to find different ways to ensure profitability. 

This can result in a halt in growth and as a result, a halt on recruitment too. 

As Liam Murray notes: "At this time of year, clients from different sectors tend to have different approaches."

How lucrative is this time for recruitment agencies?

One of the points made centred around the financial element to recruiters. 

If employers out there need extra staff to ensure projects are completed, or budget targets are met before the start of the new financial year, the extra demand can push up costs. 

As we have heard, companies don't necessarily need permanent staff to work on long-term projects. 
"Managing spikes in workload can be both challenging and rewarding. Being very well networked within your sector can allow you to respond quickly, which is a competitive advantage when competing with other agencies."

Instead, the need is for employees who can work in a temporary capacity for a short amount of time, in order to fulfil requirements before the end of the financial year. 

This "urgent need" drives up costs, according to Liam at BPS World. 

He said: "This is normally a short term solution to meet urgent needs across various project sites, but often comes at a higher cost."

Companies that need staff close to their deadlines - such as the end of the financial year - are willing to pay out more and therefore, Engineering recruiters are able to charge more for that much needed employee. 

How do recruitment agencies prepare?

Recruiters know that, as we get closer to the end of March, some sectors will require engineers more than others. 

No matter how experienced an agency is, preparing for these times can be challenging.

When there are periods of shortfalls in need for engineers, agencies maintain contact not just with clients, but also with candidates.

This is because not only does the agency have to be ready for high demand, they also have to be able to cope if demand isn't so high during these times. 

Clients and candidates who work with the recruiter have to be kept happy, as the Engineering recruitment agency itself continues to tick over. 

What steps do recruitment agencies take?

Maintain close contact with clients

This works in times of high and low demand for engineers; if agencies keep their proverbial ear to the ground, they'll know when clients desperately need an engineer and be prepared for this eventuality. 

Similarly, if the demand isn't there, agencies ensure they are building their supply base of candidates in case this situation changes.

For BPS World, this level of collaboration is critical because it not only enhances reputation amongst clients, it ensures the recruiter is ideally placed to strike when engineers are required. 

Keeping high standards of delivery and service to clients as well as candidates is, without doubt, the biggest pressure on engineering recruitment agencies at this time.

Liam Murray explained: "Managing spikes in workload can be both challenging and rewarding. Being very well networked within your sector can allow you to respond quickly, which is a competitive advantage when competing with other agencies."

When there are periods of shortfalls in need for engineers, agencies maintain contact not just with clients, but also with candidates. 

The reason for this, according to Premier Technical Recruitment - an engineering and technical recruitment specialist - is to help manage levels of expectation. 

In turn, this close collaboration bodes well when business picks up once again. 

Provide high standards to clients

As we have seen, this time of year brings with it periods of high demand for engineers when companies have to deliver year end progress, or hit budget or project targets. 

Therefore, it is key that when companies calls on your agency, the service you provide is of the standard they require. Anything else could result in failure to complete project work, and ultimately will damage the working relationship.

Having the expertise within the team to manage the highs and lows is critical, as well as having the structure, methodology and processes within the business for the teams to follow.

Maintaining high standards of delivery and service to clients as well as candidates is, without doubt, the biggest pressure on Engineering recruitment agencies at this time. 

The best way to guarantee that needs of clients are met is to have the right mentality and ethos built within your recruitment agency.

It is something that BPS World strive to achieve:

"To ensure there is no adverse impact on the business, having the expertise within the team to manage the highs and lows is critical, as well as having the structure, methodology and processes within the business for the teams to follow."

In conclusion

It's true that not all Engineering recruitment agencies are inundated with clients in need of engineers as the financial year marches towards its end. 

However, it's also true that many do experience this, as budgets need to be spent and deadlines hit. 

To make sure clients are satisfied, the key seems to be close contact, taking advantage of networking opportunities, and making sure that temporary candidates in particular are ready to work at short notice as April approaches. 

Written by John Train

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