The revolution of autonomous vehicles

It is expected that self-driving cars will be on British roads by 2021, and that by 2030, autonomous vehicles will completely replace standard cars; changing our roads forever. Giants of the automobile industry including BMW, Tesla and Mercedes are all getting in on the autonomous action in the fight to become the first to get a driverless vehicle on the road. The UK government are investing £22.4 million to develop the technology in the hope that the evolution of driverless vehicles will have a positive impact on our automotive industry and economy as a whole. But to succeed companies must be able to attract the best talent – in this case STEM graduates.

As the UK prepares to leave the EU in 2019, The Chancellor stated his plan to “build a country fit for the future and make the UK a leader in the technological revolution” and is therefore providing £1bn to be spent on high tech projects such as the development of autonomous vehicles. Although a lot of money is being invested into the industry, there is a real struggle to find the right talent. It’s no secret that the lack of science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills has become a widespread problem, with 43% of STEM vacancies proving difficult to fill and 36% of STEM graduates choosing alternative careers.

So what can we do? Companies developing the latest autonomous technology (as well as the engineering and technology sector in general) are in need of the talent now, as well as needing to build a talent pipeline for the future. There is no question that it is a difficult hiring environment, with a serious amount of competition both in the UK and internationally.

STEM graduates recruitment science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates.

We take a look at talent options companies competing for this niche skillset should be implementing:

Develop future talent

Play the long game – partner with educational institutions such as a colleges or universities to build direct relationships and hire talent straight from education. Additionally, partnering with primary and secondary schools to teach children about STEM roles is a great way of getting them interested and interacting with the industry at a young age. With the buzz surrounding autonomous vehicles, engineering in the automotive industry is likely to be a very exciting concept to young individuals, so we need to appeal to their interests and showcase the exciting projects their future in STEM could hold. This strategic method of recruitment not only helps to build a business, but it also means companies can positively influence youth to join STEM roles.

If you’re building your talent pipeline, are you doing the following?

• Mentoring university students studying relevant courses
• Sponsoring and awarding relevant educational competitions
• Hosting seminars and workshops showcasing career opportunities
• Offering work experience/apprenticeships/ industrial placements
• Promoting and supporting an employee STEM ambassador initiative (or similar)- get your employees out into the community, engaging with primary and secondary school students
• Attending careers fairs- bring your recent graduates, showcase success stories, demonstrate the career progression routes, talk about your rewards and incentives, and design your stall to draw students and give them a reason to stop and talk to you! Whether it’s a competition, giveaway or showing the latest technologies you’re working on, you need to stand out.

Adjacent industries

What about talent needs in the here and now? We’re seeing companies recruiting individuals with transferable skills from related industries such as rail, aerospace and the military. By widening their talent pool and making their job specification less restrictive, companies have the option to recruit from a wider range of individuals who have suitable skills that can be applied to the engineering of autonomous vehicles. To put it simply, companies need to start being more creative in searching for candidates and loosen their strict job requirements. Recruiting talent from alternative industries may mean that these individuals don’t fit the exact requirements of the role, but they still have a vast knowledge of engineering and electronics as well as the ability to learn other skills needed. If you’re hiring from adjacent industries, are you:

• Creating and tailoring adverts and job descriptions specific to related industries?
• Are you promoting adverts in the right places to target these audiences?
• Are you proactively approaching talent in adjacent industries?
• If you’re targeting talent from adjacent industries, are you promoting how you will upskill them in your industry or bridge the gap in any specific skillsets?

Attract ALL talent

As well as looking outside of the box to recruit STEM talent, the image of the industry is also something that needs to change. At present, the STEM sector is heavily male dominated, with women making up for only 8% of the workforce. In addition to this, only 6% of the industry is made up of black or minority ethnic groups. Companies need to make themselves attractive to ALL talent groups through effective management of their employer branding. Is your company appealing to a diverse group of people? Are you proactively positioning yourself as a diverse employer? Some points to consider…

• Does your careers page on your website highlight your approach to diversity?
• Does your website include case studies, videos and photos that demonstrate diversity in your business?
• Are you using social media to highlight diversity in your workforce?
• Have you checked that your job advert language is gender neutral?
• How does your hiring and interview process combat unconscious hiring bias?
• Are you measuring diversity? Have you set goals and recorded success against these? Do you know which techniques or approaches are best for attracting diverse groups?
• Do your rewards and benefits appeal to a diverse group of people?

Upskill current employees

Alongside hiring new employees, upskilling current talent is an important option to consider. Although upskilling employees is time consuming due to the effort needed to retrain them, it’s a cost effective way of filling the required role and retaining staff. Upskilling employees increases retention and increases productivity, as teaching new skills keeps motivation and productivity high. If retraining employees is of interest, consider the following points:

• Have you reviewed your workforce – is there an appetite for retraining?
• Have you considered how to develop an upskilling training programme? An internal or external option? Have you weighed up the pros, cons and costs for each option?
• Do you have required resources available to upskill talent?

There isn’t a simple solution to talent acquisition within autonomous vehicle technology or for the engineering and technology sectors in general. In reality, it’s a case of different combinations of all of the above techniques (plus others we haven’t explored)!

If you’re looking for help with your autonomous vehicle hiring, embedded and electronics hiring, or other engineering requirements, call one of our experienced engineering consultants today for a chat on 0117 4280600.


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