New jobs and contracting assignments are on the rise again in Scotland’s engineering sector after a difficult period in which austerity measures in the euro zone squeezed profitability, a new survey by the industry body Scottish Engineering has revealed.
While the sector recovered in the last quarter of 2014, many firms are losing orders as a direct result of sanctions on Russia. Scottish Engineering’s CEO, Bryan Buchan, said that the sector’s recovery still had an “inherent fragility” about it, although some parts of the sector were enjoying vigorous growth.
The latter include offshore engineering firms that switched their attention away from the North Sea to buoyant emerging markets in South America and Africa, where deep-sea oil drilling is taking off vigorously; however, many Scottish engineering firms are being hit hard by sanctions on Russia, Mr Buchan said, which had provided a market for a range of Scottish-produced engineering goods.
The setback suffered by the Scottish engineering industry in Q3, however, appears to have disappeared, with improvements being registered across companies of all sizes.
In addition to the problems posed by Russia and the euro zone, Mr Buchan cited another problem: experienced older engineers are retiring, leaving a skills vacuum behind them. While this is likely to be good news for jobbing Umbrella Company employees with engineering expertise in the immediate term, a new generation of engineers and technicians will need to be enticed to enter the talent pipeline in the longer term.
Mr Buchan cited encouraging new research from Scottish Enterprise that revealed more Scottish students and their parents than ever before viewed careers in engineering and technology as a top choice.