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Shortage of Engineers

01 Sep, 2015 | Return|

As I am sure you are aware, there has been huge media attention on the lack of Engineering resource in the EU. Norbar is no different and we have been experiencing staff shortages in this area for some time.


We changed our recruitment strategy and have recently used Linked In which has actually helped (despite being inundated with CVs). We also took the decision that we may need to consider resource outside the EU.


Employing people from outside the EU requires an employer to be awarded a ‘Sponsors Licence’. This is essentially written permission from the Home Office to recruit non-EU people. However, it is not as easy as it seems and I would like to share with you my experience of working through this process as it was highly complicated requiring legal input.

In my naivety, I believed that if the most suitable candidate responding to one of our advertisements was from outside the EU we could just apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship to employ them (the old work permit). Alas no - even advertising is a minefield. We have to specifically post an advert with the Job Centre Plus universal job match service plus one other media, for a specific duration. Copy evidence needs to be retained of adverts and where posted on a website; screen shots have to be taken on the day the vacancy was advertised.

We have to provide detail including evidence that there is no one in the EU who can undertake the job role CVs, interview notes etc. If we have more than one candidate with all the necessary skills and experience as advertised, where one is from the EU and the other is a migrant, we must appoint our EU candidate even if the migrant is more skilled or experienced.


The Home Office have produced a list of occupations that are ‘A shortage in the UK’. We do not have to follow the specific recruitment process if our job role is classed as a skill shortage. Unbelievably the Engineering roles we have are not classed as a shortage.


If having been through all these processes a migrant is our best candidate with non EU candidates, we then have to apply for a Certificate of Sponsor, but again with no guarantee. These are allocated in limited numbers by the Home Office on a monthly basis, so there is no guarantee that an application in any one month will be successful if the allocation has been reached. Following the recruitment of a migrant, we have to maintain highly controlled processes in managing that migrant from payslip evidence, passport evidence, a history of personal contact details, even to recording every absence and reporting to the Home Office unauthorised absence in excess of 10 days. The Home Office can made a visit unannounced to check that these processes are in place.


So, whilst accepting there is a shortage of Engineers in the EU, the Home Office do not make it easy for businesses to recruit from further afield and I am sure small businesses just won’t even have the resource to try. The economic climate has also contributed to our recruitment issues as people are not moving jobs unless it is for a substantial increase in salary. Despite the onerous process, we have been determined as a Company to put whatever resource is necessary into recruiting Engineers to support the growth of the business. We have significantly increased our number of engineers in the last few years and still have a number of opportunities available.


Wanda Stewart-Lee

Human Resources Manager