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The Mechanical Design Engineering Market - A Recruiter's Perspective

almost 3 years ago by Jordan Malone
Cogs Orange Light

The market has rarely been so balanced between degree and experience-led training. But what else is new for Mechanical Design engineering? A year into his role, DATS’ Mechanical and Piping Design recruitment specialist, Jordan Malone, explains how clients and candidates are pushing the UK forward…

Mechanical Design engineering is something I’ve never been able to shake. At college, I took a 3D Design & Tech course – I’m glad to finally use that passion at DATS. When you get down to it, my skills are in people and industry knowledge which is always evolving. Candidates come to us, find a role they love, and teach us some things along the way. In Mechanical Design – trust me – there’s always a lot to keep up with.

This area of work still has a huge number of apprenticeships; young people can learn on the job, challenge themselves, and smash through every goal they set. Graduates, on the other hand, bring their proficiency with crucial software – from SolidWorks to PTC Creo – out of their degree. That means younger designers are paving their own path, as many design packages are best used within specific industries, like CATIA for aerospace and automotive. We’re in a world now where digital engineering skills have their own, precise set of tools.

Still, if candidates don’t know how to use a certain software, those hiring them will train them up. Many software packages have a lot in common; they just need to be manipulated in a different way. Everyone can cut their teeth on a great project – there are few barriers to entry, apart from a natural aptitude and the urge to listen.

Design and manufacturing are more closely aligned 

Plenty of people have been in Mechanical Design for 20 years or more and, to be honest, they never stop coming either! There’s no skills shortage here. I suppose you’d say that skilled Piping Designers are tough to find, but there’s a continuous need for a variety of experience: both Mechanical and Piping Designers are snapped up by the firms we partner with.

One interesting development has been the synchronicity of design and manufacturing. Before any specs are approved, designs are coming through, which results in more creativity. Workers like to have a say on the final blueprint before it’s put into action; maybe this is a millennial trait, because people of my generation do tend to be known for our independence. Either way, the manufacturers of today want to express their ideas. Plans and practicalities are shared before any of the two can dominate.

Nuclear is a red-hot employment opportunity

For a while, the Japanese company Hitachi has been sitting on £16 billion, finally pulling out of its nuclear investment deal with the UK this January. It’s a blow for the mechanical engineering sector, but nothing we can’t ride out. More investors will come.


Nuclear power is a pillar of our national energy targets. Sellafield, Jacobs and Cavendish Nuclear are some of our largest employers. When the UK courts further opportunities (and it will), there will be a spate of new jobs – not just in the Mechanical Design sector, but crossing from many different roles and specialisms. Decommissioning is already a big source of work in the Northwest, because companies need experts who realise how things are put together; that’s the only method of successfully, and safely, taking them apart.

I’m looking forward to seeing how management structures and incentives change in the next decade, keeping up with a younger, more independently minded workforce. Mechanical Design engineering is in a very good place. DATS is keeping that fact alive every day.

If you’re a Mechanical Engineer wanting advice or assistance with your next career move, or a client with a Mechanical Engineering vacancy, contact Jordan here. 

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