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Where are all the engineers?

engineer vacancy
The engineering skills shortage is a pressing issue. Businesses are seeing a general lack of applicants for engineering roles causing more difficulty in recruitment and hampering UK industry, innovation and business growth. So, why is there a skills shortage and what can be done to tackle it? DSL’s Managing Director Rory Dear is trying to find the answers.  

In a fast-advancing technological world, engineers are in demand to bring ideas into reality and develop solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. A career in engineering can be one of the most exciting, creative and rewarding vocations which commands an attractive salary.

Yet, it’s estimated that we need to be at least doubling the number of engineering apprenticeships and graduates each year just to keep up with demand. This is exacerbated by the impending retirement of an aging workforce with an Engineering Today report stating that 19.5% of engineers currently working in the UK are due to retire by 2026, leaving a skills, knowledge and experience gap.

This puts apprenticeships and diversity high on the agenda. Research from EngineeringUK suggests that the engineering sector currently draws its skills from a very narrow section of society. For example, only 16.5% of the engineering workforce are women compared to 47.7% of the entire national workforce and 11.4% are from minority ethnic backgrounds compared to 13.4% of the overall workforce.

“Every time we try to recruit, it’s more difficult than the previous time, which was already really difficult,” says Rory. “We use a recruitment company which has saved us a lot of time and resource, and haven’t had a bad candidate. But the problem seems to be finding available candidates.”

DSL Recruiting

Rory says he is currently looking for a new engineer to join the team in Hertfordshire: “Our engineering department is busier than ever. We’ve got more designs than ever, people coming out of the pandemic desperate to innovate their way out of the disruption, a component crisis where products that were long into production now have to go back to engineering to have complements swapped out or be redesigned to suit alternative components, plus we have our new Design Health Check service to help other companies with their component issues and solve reliability issues.

“So, naturally, we want to expand our engineering capabilities but we can’t seem to find any engineers. Where are they?!

“It could be that people don’t aspire to be in embedded computing, it’s quite a niche business. It’s perhaps not something people dream about as youngsters, but there’s an education piece needed here within schools, about all the rewarding outcomes of embedded engineering which is creating new technological advancements and products which can improve the way we live and the way we respond to global issues.”

It’s a world-wide challenge. Last year’s Recruitment Employment Confederation Jobs Outlook survey found that engineering and technical vacancies were in the top three most challenging roles to fill with 97% of respondents reporting that it’s taking longer to find the right candidate.

Rory says: “When people join DSL, they stay. We are one of those companies that people want to work for and we only recruit when we expand.

“Recently, we’re only seeing about three applicants applying for an engineering role and there’s urgency with our engineering department crying out for resource. Urgency is the enemy of recruitment and I don’t want to rush into the wrong hire. As the MD of an SME, I need to make sure we find the right person with the right skills who will fit within our company culture and values.”

DSL is looking for an Electronics Design Engineer, experienced in PCB design. If you would like an informal chat about the role and working at DSL, please contact 01462 675530 or email: [email protected]

You can listen to Rory and Tom discussing recruitment on the latest DSL podcast here.

More about the Role

About the job

To play a fundamental role in undertaking client electronic designs, maintaining client satisfaction through risk-averse design methodologies and regular communication. Building and maintaining client relationships through communication via telephone and e-mail to provide them confidence to place further activity with the company.

Electronic Design

  • Liaise with clients in order to understand their requirements pre and mid project.
  • Specify and design analogue and digital electronic circuits and systems
  • Electronic CAD design using Altium designer, designing efficiently for test, manufacture, environmental aspects and any other aspect relevant to the client.
  • Specify and design firmware and software pertaining to client designs
  • Specify and design or manage the outsourcing of mechanical enclosures or other project elements that are not considered the company’s core competency.
  • Specify and design testing hardware and procedures to ensure production product leaving the company fully conforms to the Design Specification.
  • Work within the disciplines of standards relevant to the company and/or client’s design.


  • Assist Sales in preparing quotations
  • Assist in generation of design documentation, including Design Proposals and Design Specifications
  • Maintain accurate time-records to enable the company to monitor accuracy of project quotations
  • Maintain accurate records to assist the Operations Director in creation/updating of project plans and operational understanding of project progress.