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Are The UK’s Renewable Energy Efforts Enough To Combat Climate Change?

03. 12. 2018

Renewable energy seems to have been making headlines for all the right reasons this year. In March it was announced that more electricity was produced by wind and solar sources than by nuclear power stations in the UK; and in October the Government said that Britain had gone the equivalent of more than two months this year without using coal to generate electricity. But against headlines of 2018 being on course to be the fourth warmest on record, and with the climate change one of the hottest topics within politics (no pun intended), is the UK really doing enough to promote the switch to renewable energy? Green Investment Has Fallen In May, the Environmental Audit Committee found that a series of Government policy changes have caused a fall in clean energy investment. Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “Billions of pounds of investment is needed in clean energy, transport, heating and industry to meet our carbon targets. But a dramatic fall in investment is threatening the Government’s ability to meet legally binding climate change targets. The Government’s Clean Growth Strategy was long on aspiration, but short on detail.” “The Government must urgently plug this policy gap and publish its plan to secure the investment required to meet the UK’s climate change targets.” But while government funding has fallen, it seems public support for renewable energy has grown. Brits Back Renewables Recent YouGov polls have shown that two-thirds of British people oppose onshore restrictions that have reduced planning applications for new wind farms by 94 per cent; and that 62% of the British public would like to fit solar panels. But these results came as the government cut subsidies for green energy across the board, capping the total at £100m by 2019. Jeremy Leggett, founder of Solar Century, the UK's largest solar company, said: “They are backing the wrong horses: nuclear and shale gas, and seem willing actively to suppress solar to make space. They should at least take out a hedged bet on solar, and keep an export tariff for solar generation. As things stand, from next March they intend to allow energy companies to take excess solar electricity generated by solar ‘prosumers’ for free. That is really a retrograde action, especially when you contrast it with the incentives for solar generation elsewhere in the world.” According to Client Earth's chief executive James Thornton: “The government can take the lead on climate quickly by cutting off the hundreds of millions of pounds in annual subsidies to fossil fuel power stations and other schemes that are giving carbon-intensive power generation an unfair advantage over renewables.” But is it even feasible for somewhere like the UK, which averages only 1493 hours of sun per year, to produce 100% of its energy from renewable sources? Is Renewable Energy Even Feasible In The UK? The argument against renewable energy is often that Britain doesn’t experience enough sunshine to take advantage of solar, and that other methods of energy generation, such as wind turbines and hydro-power, are not reliable enough to provide the consistent flow of energy we require as a country. But technology moves fast, and there are countries with similar weather to the UK that are now generating the bulk of their power from renewable energy sources. In Europe, Norway and Sweden are leading the way in renewable energy production, surpassing their targets and achieving a 69.4% and 53.9% renewable energy share respectively. In contrast, the UK has fallen short of it’s target, and is generating only 8.2% of its energy from renewable sources. It seems that the government’s prioritisation of fossil fuels and nuclear energy has left us falling behind other countries, and significant changes are now needed for the UK to even meet its renewable energy target. But could there be a light at the end of the tunnel? Could Electric Cars Be The Tipping Point? In August, electric cars accounted for 1 in every 12 cars sold in the UK, marking the beginning of a huge shift within the industry. As the cars continue being developed and improved by the manufacturers, and more and more people make the switch to hybrid or electric vehicles, the need for a reliable network of charging points will increase, making the shift to cheap and renewable energy more of an appealing option for businesses. After all, why pay an electrical company to charge people’s cars when you can harness the power yourself for (almost) free? Technology has disrupted many markets in recent years, cutting out the middleman in sectors like retail and hospitality, and having a huge impact on the businesses operating within them. It seems only a matter of time before someone decides to cut out the middleman in the energy sector, forcing big companies to change and shaping the industry’s future for the better; but it seems unlikely there will be large scale changes instigated by the government. Currently it seems that the UK really isn’t doing enough to promote renewable energy, or have a positive impact on climate change, but who knows what the future holds?! What do you think?


Is it time for the checkout to checkout?

15. 10. 2018

Love or hate it , supermarket self-service is here to stay. It started with self-service tills slowly taking over the supermarket and creeping their way into smaller stores, but now a new type of self service has entered the frame. A ‘till free’ service. It feels like a big leap to jump to the next stage of self-service when I myself still have mixed feelings about what we have already. On one hand, self-service tills cuts out the middle man and potentially save a whole load of painful queuing. But on the other hand, it constantly breaks, half of them don’t take cash and it never seems to know if something is in the bagging area or not. Regardless of my personal feelings though, Sainsbury’s believe that the positives outweigh the negatives and they are now trialling a ‘till free’ store. But what even is ‘till free’ and will it be a step above from what we have already? Rise of the self-serve supermarket The idea is simple enough, first download an app onto your phone and then scan all products you intend to buy as you put them into your basket or trolley. At the end of your shop, simply scan your phone by the shop's exit and the app will automatically pay for all your scanned products. No queues, no waiting, no fuss! We are not entirely in I-Robot territory though, as there will still be a need for staff. Products that have age restrictions such as alcohol will still require an over 25 check and there will still be a till for those without a smart phone or for those who don’t understand it. In a perfect world this seems like a positive for everyone. No longer will I need to hear the dreaded “please place the items onto the bagging area” and have to awkwardly ask for assistance. You may ask “what is not to love?”, but like any plan with good intentions, the devil is always in the detail. All the small things In the previous paragraph I assumed that ‘till-free’ shopping would work perfectly, but as we all know, technology breaks. A lot. It is the little things I worry about when I think about scanning all my shopping with my phone. What happens if the barcode does not register? How frustrating will it be to manually type the barcode digits into my phone? I could go ask a shop assistant for help, but how many of them will be left? It is no secret that businesses are always looking to cut costs any without tills needed to be manned by staff, how many people will be made redundant? Not only would that be terrible for the people working at these stores but it also means finding someone to help could be harder. I can imagine that many people simply won’t understand how to use the app and will need plenty of help from shop assistants, will this mean that instead of queuing at a till, will we be queuing for a human instead? I can’t tell if that is ironic or not! I could list many more issues such as the wireless going down, forgetting your phone at home or bugs that have not been discovered yet but these will all need to be ironed out. I admit that a lot of my concerns can be fixed over time with trial and error, but one flaw that cannot so easily be fixed might be closer to home than we think. The Devil in us I like to think that I am not the sort of person to steal, but what happens if an opportunity presents itself? What happens if you are at a supermarket and self-scan a bunch of fruit but the till only recognises your bunch for one? Do you take that as a win or do you hunt down a shop assistant and ask them for assistance? Is it even a moral dilemma for you as after all, it is a victimless crime. Many people must believe it’s a victimless crime because it has been reported that £3 billion was lost last year due to self-service checkouts. This causes supermarkets to increase their prices to cover loses. If I have to watch the ‘Freddo’ chocolate bar increase in price any more I am going to lose it. Even though £3 billion is a crazy amount of money to lose each year, supermarkets are in no way slowing down on self-checkouts. Simple business deducts that self-service checkouts must make more money than they lose. Time will tell how successful a ‘till-free’ checkout will be. But without any shop assistants around, will the money lost only increase? Will supermarkets cover this by laying off more staff and increasing the price of even more chocolate? Or am I just being a cynic and disregarding a pro-consumer act? I have a feeling that it won’t take long to find out but I also believe that when it is all over, the winners will be the supermarkets.


The Apple Problem

13. 09. 2018

That time again Another year, another iPhone release! It’s a strange time in my life that not only excites me but also fills me with dread. It shines a light on the worst part of my personality. I may complain about not being able to pay my bills but in the same breath I will excitedly squeal for the chance to buy a phone 1mm thinner than the one I already own. It’s capitalism at it’s greatest and even though it pains me to admit, I am just another sheep queuing for a phone I don’t need, to never use features that I don’t understand. Still, I was excited to know what Apple had instore for us so instead of doing anything of real value with my day, I watched a 2 hour press release instead. When the iPhone ‘Xs’ and ‘Xs Max’ got announced, I was watching with a childlike glee. What would be the new killer feature? Would it fix my issues with the ‘X’ or would it be a new design? What we got was a very safe and standard upgrade. Basically it is the same phone as the previous generation but everything runs faster. Arguably the ‘X’s’ is better than the ‘X’ but not by much. Having a 30 minute longer battery life is an upgrade but how much will I notice? Yes, apps launch 30% faster but I don’t remember ever saying “I wish apps loaded faster on my iPhone!”. Then when the price got announced to be both 999 dollars and pounds I decided that this will be a generation I can skip. So why, 30 minutes later am I looking at my £800 phone like it is trash? Why am I checking my credit limit and looking for deals on the new phone? Why do I even need a smart phone at all! Smart phones, what are they good for? Ask yourself, would you buy a new £1000 dishwasher if it washes your dishes 30 minutes faster? Would you then buy another £1000 dishwasher the year after, if that one was another 30 minutes faster? Of course not! That would be insane. When I bought a sofa for my living room a few months back I knew that it would last for many many years. I wouldn’t buy another one 9 months later because its 30% thinner, so why do we do it with phones? Maybe it’s because technology ages quicker than a sofa so it is important to keep up to date? But now ask yourself. “What do I use my phone for”. I use my phone for connecting with people, browsing the internet and listening to music so as long as my phone can do all that then I should be happy right? I used to have an ‘iPhone 4S’ and it was an amazing phone that I used daily and I believe it brought me happiness. Does having a new phone bring more happiness? Maybe having a bigger screen and faster internet speeds makes me happier but can I put a value on it? If an app opens in 4 seconds on the ‘4s’, how much would I pay to have it open instantly? Would you rather pay £80 for a phone with a 4 second delay or pay £1000 to not have that worry? The point I am making in a roundabout way is that I do not need the newest phone as all it does is give me the same features just a little crisper. I don’t care enough to spend £1000 on a slightly faster phone every year so it can’t be the features that matter to me. Sadly I know that the real reason that I and many people buy the newest phone each year is ego! I want it all I buy an iPhone for the same reason I buy designer clothes. It’s a fashion statement. It’s a way to show that you have wealth without the need to really have wealth. No one needs to know that I am paying £30 a month for 36 months for my iPhone, I can just take it out my pocket as a conversation starter. This is why each Apple conference fills me with dread as I watch them. Like many people, I already know that I am wasting my money, I understand that I do not need or even care about having a slightly faster phone and being charged £999 for a phone is crazy! The price of the ‘iPhone X’ was a major criticism of Apple but it is still the most popular phone in the world. Let’s not kid ourselves why either, it’s because if you have a £999 phone in your pocket then you must be cool right? So after all this complaining, after writing about how unreasonable it is to buy a new phone each year and realising that a £100 iPhone 5 does all what I need it to do. I am still wondering if I should buy the ‘iPhone Xs Max’ with credit or debit. But hey, at least is has a longer battery life


The Hyperloop Test Track

05. 08. 2018

A capsule made out of Vibranium that travels at 760 mph! Sounds like a comic book, but is it fact or fiction? In 2012, Elon Musk had a vision for the future of transportation. A vision that could transport the passenger from London to Scotland in only 45 minutes. No, this is not another attempt at building a Concorde plane but instead, another mode of transport all together. One that he would call “The Hyperloop” What is it? Simply put, the Hyperloop is an air vacuumed tube that a pod can travel through at super speeds. The pod can reach such speeds for two main reasons. Firstly, there will be no friction as the pod will levitate within the tube using magnets. Secondly as the tube has no air, there will be no wind resistance either. Without friction or wind resistance, there is nothing stopping the pod from travelling at sound breaking speeds. The challenge was set to build the Hyperloop when Elon Musk created a 57 page report on how his design may work. Musk chose not to patent his idea but instead he challenged the world to make this idea a reality. Since then, multiple companies have been born with the goal of creating the world’s first functioning Hyperloop. The Pod Race Air travel speeds at ground level could change the way we live and work forever. Imagine living in London and working in Edinburgh!With a commute time of only 45 minutes, this could be a reality. This would ultimately create more job opportunities and less housing constraints in capital cities which surely, I do not need to explain what the many benefits could be. Cities such as Dubai are crying out for this technology to connect them to the rest of the world and it’s no wonder then that multiple companies want to be the first to capitalise on this emerging market. Reality or Pipe Dream There have been criticisms that this whole idea sounds more fiction than science. With safety concerns being one of the core arguments against the hyperloop. Having people travel down a pipe in a pressurised environment at 760 MPH does sound like an accident waiting the happen. The possibilities of incidents such as an earthquake or even worse, terrorism, makes many people worried. One of the ways to combat this is to create a really tough pipe. The company ‘Hyperloop Transportation Technology’ or ‘HTT’ for short is using a new ‘smart’ material to build with. This smart material is 10 times stronger than steel with internal sensors that can relay critical data wireless to the operator. Don’t tell Marvel, but they call this material ‘Vibranium’. But even with all the Vibranium in Uganda, we are still a long way off the first fully functional Hyperloop. HTT wants to have one built by 2021 but many engineers doubt that it will be complete by then. It took many years for train and air travel to fully take off and completing the Hyperloop by 2021 seems a little quick. It is argued that there are many issues with the Hyperloop that we don’t even know about yet and giving a release date so soon to today is unrealistic. To many people, the idea of the Hyperloop sounds impossible, but at one point so did space and air travel. Who knows what the future holds but it does looks like soon (ish) ‘riding the tube’ may have a new meaning in London.


Germany’s Negative Power Prices

15. 06. 2018

We have all been told off for forgetting to turn the kitchen light off. In Germany, the citizens are being paid to keep them on....kinda We all hate electricity prices but what happens when the country’s supply of clean, renewable power becomes larger than the demand? Well, you just need to look at Germany to find your answer! Germany aims to rely completely on renewable energy by 2050 and they have hit the ground running. With over $200 billion invested over the last few decades, Germany is well on her way to achieving her goal! Late last year, the German people received a holiday treat when on a very windy day, their giant spinning turbines produced so much electricity that the cost went below zero. Negative Power Wind and solar energy have always been generally inconsistent. If the days are not sunny or windy then they do not pump out that sweet clean energy! But on the other hand, on a partially sunny day, it may produce too much. Now picture a day, a lazy Sunday. Most businesses are closed and not much electricity is required. Now let's make the day extremely sunny and windy! The power plants cannot store all the excess generation so what happens? Either use it or shut off the plant! This is all a perfect storm if you are a customer because eventually, the power plants become so full of power that they must use it! In fact, they will pay you to use it. (well technically they don’t put money into your bank account and instead make next months bill cheaper...but the word “pay” is more catchy) This is what negative power is and it happens more often than you may think. The Fossil Fuel Problem We all know the dangers of fossil fuel and it is almost universally agreed upon that we need to try move away from it even though it does have some advantages. Negative power is not a good thing for the companies who are producing it. The technology does not currently exist to hold an abundance of excess power. There is also not an incentive in place to coerce the citizens to use more electricity. Yes, they occasionally get cheaper electric bills, but their household energy bills have been rising! Fossil fuel can be generated for demand and then stopped when not needed. There will never be so much that it needs to be free! This is all good news for the people who are selling it...just bad news for the planet and our wallets. What’s the Catch? When something sounds too good to be true then it usually is. The idea of getting paid to use the washing machine may become a reality but if we never see that extra money due to increasing energy bill prices then there will be no incentive. With no incentive to use extra electric power at home, it simply is not feasible to go 100% renewable energy. But what is not feasible today may be a reality tomorrow. Power companies know that the pressure to switch to clean energy will only ever rise and they have already begun to adapt. For example, one of Germany’s largest power company has employed a weather forecaster to anticipate the spikes in power (A job that comes with lots of pressure considering how often the weather forecasters are wrong!) Ultimately, we don’t suggest getting too excited about negative power as a source of income from your energy supplier. The technology will eventually catch up, but as we move away from fossil fuels, at least we won’t get told off for leaving the lights on!


Was the Beast from the East just an economic storm in a teacup?

15. 03. 2018

There are many things you can control in business, many factors affecting your profitability that your management team can have a direct impact on. Beast from the East But the weather? It’s something we all talk about but can do absolutely nothing about. And we’ve all been very clearly reminded of this recently, with the arrival of the ‘Beast from the East’. Gridlocked motorways, stalled building sites, empty cafes and cancelled trains were just some of the symptoms of the extreme weather that hit the country at the end of February. And while fortunately short-lived, it is estimated that The Beast has cost the UK economy at least £1billion A DAY. Indeed, The Guardian reports that it could halve the GDP growth for the first quarter of 2018. Practically all market sectors have been affected in some way. Possibly hardest hit is construction. Sub-zero temperatures meant no working, and in this industry alone, it’s forecast that £2billion has been lost over the worst three days. In theory, the work can be caught up once better weather arrives, but in practice, projects tend to get pushed back, so the money is lost forever. Transport networks ground to a halt with multiple rail cancellations, motorway closures and flight postponements. Transport is a consumable industry – once an airline seat has been missed, it can’t be resold. And with everybody being told to stay at home and not travel, our high streets and leisure facilities fell silent. Experts do believe that this sector will probably recover their losses. February tends to be a ‘belt tightening’ month anyway, and whilst in the short-term economic activity is affected, hopefully, spend will be recovered later in the year. It wasn’t all bad news And it wasn’t all bad news for retail. Whilst the John Lewis group saw sales drop by 5% over the week compared to last year, their grocery arm, Waitrose, saw an increase of 0.7%. It seems we bought more comforting food and drink, with canned soup sales surging by 50 percent and crumpets by 35 percent! Of course, our energy suppliers saw a spike in demand. One gas analyst calculated that the cost of same-day gas traded on 2nd March was £52.6m, compared to a daily average of £7.7m in 2017. Whilst the headline losses are startling, maybe they aren’t quite what they seem. Certainly, economic activity stalls because of the weather but many economists believe this to be a transient effect. Looking at the greater picture, such losses are often little more than a glitch. Things do catch up, and when viewed over a longer time period, the event can barely be noticed. Take this view to an extreme, and if we look at a century’s worth of GDP figures, we see even the Great Depression as being just a blip. By around 1960, the standard of living appeared to be exactly where it would have been if the 1930s had never happened. Of course, when you are in the middle of a situation, stranded miles from home, or sitting at home with no water or heating, it doesn’t feel like a blip. But it’s reassuring to think that the concerns are perhaps short-term ones. Indeed, there is a view that over the long term, the only things that really matter are technological advances and productivity.


Has the Bitcoin bubble burst or is there more to come?

21. 02. 2018

Had we been writing this blog twelve months ago – or even three months ago – it might have taken a different direction. Throughout 2017, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin surged in value, rising over 1300% during the course of the year. The chances are that even those of us who have no idea what a cryptocurrency is will have read about the meteoric rise in Bitcoin’s value and wondered if that growth could continue. However, as the new year began, the value of Bitcoin plunged, in January dropping 50% from its peak value, hit just a few weeks earlier. Looking to the future, expert opinion is divided. Goldman Sachs analysts predict that ‘most cryptocurrencies are heading to zero.’ They liken the phenomenon to the internet bubble and subsequent dot-com crash early this century. However, they do concede that the blockchain - the digital ledger system that records cryptocurrency transactions - could have a “transformative impact” on the global economy. It encourages transparency, and for companies with long supply chains, it could help them track the movement of goods and services more efficiently. Not everyone takes such a pessimistic view. One cryptocurrency portfolio manager, speaking at the Davos World Economic Forum, believes that the high volatility is completely normal. He relates it to companies such as Apple and Microsoft, both of whom had rocky rides with their values in their early days, but ultimately became much more stable. Indeed, he predicts that Bitcoin will reach a high of $50,000 this year – around a fivefold increase from the value as we write. His view is supported elsewhere. The organisation assembled a council of crypto-experts, including financial technology entrepreneurs, Bitcoin investors and financial analysts. This group suggests that Bitcoin will outperform other cryptocurrencies during 2018 and could increase in value to $14,928 by March and hit $43,472 by the year’s end. What is interesting about Bitcoin is that it performs none of the of the commonly accepted functions of a currency. Traditional monetary theory states that a currency has three characteristics – a medium of exchange, a denominator of value and a store of wealth. But Bitcoin is not widely accepted; its own value is so volatile that it cannot be held up as a standard, and it is not a store of wealth because it has become so valuable itself. Indeed, it was never intended to replace traditional currencies. So, it begs the question ‘why has it been so successful?’. The Independent’s financial editor believes it’s because few people fully understand it, and it falls ‘below the radar’. Neither taxable nor traceable, it appeals to those who like to live on the edge (and, frankly, to those who operate beyond the law). No-one can accurately predict where this currency will end up, but we believe, it’s here to stay in one form or another. The future is undoubtedly unpredictable – with soaring heights and crashing depths – but Bitcoin is a great example of the innovation of cryptocurrency. It will develop and mature, we are sure. It will be interesting to revisit the subject in 10 years’ time and see where Bitcoin has ended up.


Should we be worrying about the UK energy gap?

22. 01. 2018

In the UK we are not currently capable of producing all the energy that we use. Our need to import energy has fluctuated dramatically over the last 50 years. Those of us old enough to remember the 1970s may recall reading by candlelight as power shortages left us all in the dark, or sitting in long queues at petrol stations. At that time, our import requirement was over 50%. Fast forward to the 1980 – 2000 period, and we generally met our own needs and had some to spare for export. The energy gap has started growing again since that period. According to figures from The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, we are currently a net importer of energy, needing around 40% of our supplies to be imported. So, should we be concerned? Many engineers think we should. The phasing-out of coal and nuclear reactors without viable alternative solutions is predicted to create a supply crunch ten years down the line. In October last year, the UK government pledged to ‘champion a global alliance’ on a transition to coal-free power generation by 2025. What this means is the closure of the country’s remaining eight coal-fired power stations, and one of them shutting this year. Additional plans to phase out ageing nuclear reactors without, in some experts’ view, sufficient plans in place to build adequate replacements, will combine to create a supply crisis, according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). Here’s an interesting statistic Around 1 in every 49 UK jobs is related to one of the energy sectors, so it’s a crucial industry for employment. And yet the IMechE maintains that the country has neither the time, resources, nor enough skilled people to build sufficient power plants. The concern is that electricity imports will put the UK’s supply at the mercy of the markets, weather and politics of other countries, resulting in a less secure supply with less controllable costs. When we talk about energy, it’s not just electricity of course. In the report, electricity is shown as just 20% of UK energy use, with heat generation being around 40% and transport fuels a similar percentage. The suggestion is that although the government is focusing on electricity – and indeed, it’s very hard to find official statistics on energy other than electricity – it is a small part of the overall energy challenge. The Green agenda All of the above has to be set against a 'green' agenda, although the counry's bold target of slashing carbon emissions by more than 50% by 2030 now seems unachievable. Subsidies for onshore wind and solar power have been slashed, throwing doubt on the future growth of these energy sources. The feeling within in the industry is that the government has hit the pause button on their renewable energy policy. The IMechE report concludes that some important factors are being overlooked concerning the sustainability of the UK’s energy system and its contribution to global warming. The Institution believes: That we must reduce the pollution generated from electricity generation We must put more focus on the pollution from energy we use in heat and transport, which is 4x the electricity we use There needs to be a continued focus on supply, demand and emissions across the whole spectrum of energy use to secure wider benefits in UK health and welfare


Investments, jobs and recruitment – the Brexit factor

15. 12. 2017

A little while ago we looked at the potential impact of Brexit on the engineering sector. With the recent breakthrough in talks, a Brexit deal looks a little closer. But what will our ultimate withdrawal from Europe mean for investments in new projects, for job creation – and indeed for the recruitment industry as a whole. A survey last month by Ipsos MORI, commissioned by Invest Europe, looked at how Europe has changed as an investment destination, including an examination of the Brexit impact. With a respondent base of investors from France, Germany, UK, USA and China, the survey revealed that countries are split in their propensity to invest in the UK. With a growing anxiety amongst key European countries that Brexit will impact their commerce, most German and French respondents stated were less likely to invest following Brexit, whilst our departure seemed not to faze the Americans, whose attitude was unchanged. Chinese investors, on the other hand, seem more likely to be interested in spending their money in the UK. Possibly reflecting the potential for new trade relations between the UK and other international markets, 58% of the Chinese companies interviewed said they were more likely to invest in the UK over the next five years. In the UK, Brexit secretary David Davis has confirmed that the government has not conducted sector-by-sector studies on the impact of leaving the EU. But a quick Google search shows concern expressed across many industrial sectors, and a general feeling of relief on news of the deal. The Telegraph reports that the construction sector is warning of a ‘cliff edge’ over EU workers. With a massive drive to build 300,000 new homes a year, it’s a sector with high recruitment needs. Around 6% of construction workers are EU migrants – but that rises to 50% in London and the South East. And it is forecast that over the next decade the construction workforce will decrease by up to 25% - fuelled by a combination of a skills shortage thanks to an ageing population, and a decrease in new entrants who are put off by the volatile nature of the industry. The sector is addressing this by recruiting and training more UK workers, but states there “will likely remain an ongoing need for significant levels of skilled EU workers." The recent news must come as something of a relief for the automotive industry. The Independent reported recently that Ford has warned the Government that failure to secure a final Brexit deal would be a disaster for the UK’s motor sector. Ford has spent 40 years putting together a supply chain taking advantage of the open European market, and a ‘no-deal’ Brexit could cost them $1billion in tariffs. These concerns are echoed by the wider automotive industry with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders saying, “we need to see concrete progress – and quickly.” There’s now a hope that the break-through deal paves the way for positive trade negotiations that negates the need for hard borders. The Independent Transport Commission think-tank has urged the Government to focus on the aviation industry during its Brexit negotiations. Leaving the EU is likely to have a significant impact on the regulations governing aviation – and there are no historic rules to fall back on should we find ourselves in a ‘no-deal’ situation. There is also a huge knock-on effect to manufacturing, with aircraft parts being made and assembled in many different countries. Minimising regulatory barriers post-Brexit will help to ensure the competitiveness of the UK sector. And what about the recruitment sector? With the breakthrough deal including the protection of the rights of EU citizens in the UK, it’s a step that has been welcomed by recruiters. Uncertainty is what causes delays in decision making, and raises concerns about job security. This positive move reduces some of that uncertainty around Brexit, Many in the industry have expressed hope that that news of the deal will slow the flow of EU workers choosing to leave the UK. Since Brexit, there has been concern about access to the pool of EU workers that so many industries rely on heavily. It’s generally seen as good news for UK employers and those looking for work.


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