Skills Shortages; Could Training be an Option? – A Case Study
I’ve been recruiting in the Commercial Catering industry for the past 3 years; it’s an exciting industry with lots of highly skilled and hardworking individuals. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a severe skills shortage in terms of fully COMCAT qualified engineers. Too many kitchens and too few experienced pairs of hands to fix them!
In the battle of the Commercial Catering firms I have witnessed quite a few underhand tactics taking place. For example, some companies are offering outlandishly high salaries (when the rest of the package and working conditions really aren’t that great), resulting in very well paid but very unhappy engineers. This is pricing engineers out of the market and making it near on impossible for other companies to compete.
So what do you do when you have solid service contracts coming in, and not enough engineers to honour them? Let me tell you a story…
One of my top Commercial Catering clients have just received a large injection of cash into their service department from their parent company and are looking to double or triple their engineering workforce in the next couple of years. When they came to me with exclusivity on all roles, I was elated! For a short time, and then I started to panic. Where on earth was I going to conjure up all of these engineers from? Don’t get me wrong, this company are an easy sell. They are one of my favourite clients to work with, they offer a great package and treat their engineers really well. I’d already placed several engineers with them and the feedback I receive is great.
I was in a quandary – I didn’t want to disappoint a loyal customer who were putting all their faith in me, but I also didn’t want to over-promise and not be able to deliver. So that got me to thinking, there must be another way around this…
I was honest with my contact and we decided that we needed to think of a workaround. After much research, conversation and deliberation we started to wonder whether it would be feasible and cost effective to actually take on some un-qualified engineers and put them through their training. My contact went away to speak with a local gas training centre and I waited with baited breath.
When he came back to me, it was the news I was hoping for. If I could find engineers with transferable skillsets, who were willing to take a slightly lower salary while undergoing their training, it looked as though this could work!
Next we had a long think about the kinds of engineers that would be suitable – we decided that the best kind of person would be a Domestic Appliance Engineer with an electrical background (even better if they had their core or domestic gas already as this would lower costs)
My contact loaded me up with the first territories that he needed filling, and I went to work!
4 months later and I have already filled the first 6 roles. My candidates come from a range of different backgrounds but they are all enrolled on their gas courses and doing incredibly well.
I’m not saying that this is going to be a feasible solution for all companies, but I do believe that there is a whole pool of talented engineers out there that, with a bit of training and guidance, could be moulded into the perfect Commercial Catering Engineers to solve this crisis!
Paying an unqualified engineer a lower basic salary and putting them through their gas courses might actually end up working out more cost effective than employing an in-demand, fully qualified COMCAT one.
If you’d like to discuss this with me in more detail, please get in touch. Equally, if you’re in a different industry that is suffering from a skills shortage, perhaps we can come up with a similar solution!