UK Engineering Firm Turns to India to Fill Talent Gap

Friday, April 4th, 2014
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A unit of one of the UK’s leading engineering groups is recruiting engineers from India to make up for shortages in the European labour pool.

British turbogenerator maker Brush has opened a recruitment office in Abu Dhabi for the express purpose of sourcing engineers from the Indian sub-continent to compensate for what it claims is a shortage of skilled professionals in Europe.

Blair Illingworth, chief executive of the Loughborough-based engineering firm, said the company had found it “incredibly difficult” to source the skilled engineers it needed from Europe, particularly given the highly specialised nature of its technologies.

According to Illingworth, the Abu Dhabi office will be entrusted with the task of producing Brush’s next generation of engineers. The office will obtain 10 engineering professionals this year, with plans to eventually lift recruitment numbers to 30.

The move comes just following the release of a monthly survey of 400 human resources agencies by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Federation, which found that the UK’s engineering and construction sectors were experiencing strongest demand for permanent strong.

The Royal Academy of Engineering has also found that the UK needs 800,000 more engineering professionals between 2012 and 2030, yet British universities are expected to produce only 32,000 graduates in the field a year.

The report prompted Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary Danny Alexander to write to Home Secretary Theresa May calling for a loosening of  immigration restrictions in order to enable more engineers and scientists to enter the country. Alexander also advocates the amendment of the current scheme which sets a minimum salary threshold, and has the effect of deterring foreign PhD graduates from entering local industry.

According to Illingworth, current immigration restrictions have impeded Brush’s ability to recruit engineers hailing from South Asia in Britain.

Brush, a part of UK engineering group Melrose, specialises in the manufacture of sophisticated turbogenerators which can sell for up to 2 million pounds per unit. The company’s products have been used to provide power to the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi and to the glittering main strip of US gambling mecca Las Vegas, while its other clients include General Electric, Rolls-Royce and Siemens.

Brush currently employs a workforce of 2,700 people, of which 970 are based in the UK. In addition to factories in the Netherlands and Czech Republic, the company will open its first factory in China early next year at a cost of around 32 million pounds, to provide turbogenerators to a local GE joint venture.

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