Engineers with a talent for technology will find themselves in high demand this year. We have had thorough discussions with our specialist recruiters to identify the key skills in the engineering and manufacturing sector for this year - here are the top 10.

1. Supplier development

Professionals with the skills and experience to collaborate effectively with suppliers, will not only improve their processes and manufacturing capacity, but will ultimately reduce costs in the production process. As the ability to balance managing costs with a consistent supply strategy is key in engineering and manufacturing, skilled supplier development managers are in high demand. Competition for top talent is fierce, and businesses with the right professionals in this area will be in a better position to manage customer expectations.

2. Adaptability

As the pace of change accelerates in manufacturing, being adaptable is key to any business moving forward. As new exponential technologies arise, the need to be able to correctly harness these innovations increases. Adaptable individuals are able to manage multiple projects, be fluid with change and navigate challenges, such as downsizing, or Brexit. An adaptable workforce allows any business to be as efficient as possible through challenging climates.

3. Lean manufacturing

Minimising or eliminating waste from the manufacturing process can reap great rewards. Boosting efficiency and reducing waste are key areas for businesses looking to increase their profit margins. Creating feasible and robust lean manufacturing processes is the building block for continuous business improvement. Professionals in this area can make a real difference in driving value and reducing costs, so those with well-honed skills are always highly sought after.

4.  New approach of leadership

Top-down management is out of fashion. Instead, both in the engineering & manufacturing sector and in other sectors, there is a need for a more democratic form of leadership that is better aligned with the new generation of employees. They feel more comfortable with more participative way of working. Companies also benefit from that, because employees can come up with ideas that management has not thought of. The best specialists are therefore not necessarily the managers anymore. Companies are increasingly abandoning that principle. Of course, professional knowledge is required, but good personal skills are just as important for managing a team.

5. Accountability

In engineering and manufacturing, it is essential that production schedules are adhered to so that deadlines and expectations from colleagues, stakeholders, and customers, are met. If no one is accountable for any part of a process, it can lead to a loss of revenue. Having a clear understanding of what accountability means and demonstrating it, whether through areas of quality ethics, regulatory standards, leads to a better controlled process.

6. Multi-project management

A focused multi-tasking approach is needed when we consider that large, high-value projects, are becoming commonplace, especially through foreign direct investment (FDI). Large-scale technology projects require solid project management skills and the ability to keep a number of plates spinning at once. A talent for controlling costs and managing efficiency continue to be perennially important in the current climate. Meeting high demand for profit margins relies on top talent with strategic and tactical planning expertise.

7. Customer-led/centric design

With new products being developed all the time, managing expectations on customer-centric design is key for businesses to stay ahead in a competitive field. When customers are truly invested in your product, they are more likely to be retained. It puts the customer experience into sharp focus and can position businesses as leaders at the forefront of their field. The right individuals are key to ensuring that the customer-centric design approach is implemented correctly.

8. Process design

Process design is a key component in the operational management of any business. A workable and competent workflow process is not just highly desirable - it's a necessity. This is because it occurs at the start of the process, and thus forms the building block on which the whole operational structure will run. Applying logical thought to volume and demand will help increase efficiency and keep down production costs. Thus, those skilled in implementing new processes are key to a manufacturing operation's success.

9. Strategy and change

With uncertainty prevalent due to an ever-changing economic environment, the ability to adapt and evolve with a solid strategy is key. An adaptable team can work efficiently during times of change, or when there are increased workloads and pressures. Change is inevitable, but having the right people in place to help manage the process is invaluable. Flexible, pro-active, and skilled strategic decision-makers help businesses shift direction when they need to, which is key in a competitive environment.

10. Attention to detail

Attention to detail is a key skill that is prized in every business and at all levels. In a fast-past world, professionals that are perfectionists in their work and who pride themselves in having an eye for the fine details, are rated very highly by managers. They can make a succinct difference to the business and with the ability to look for anomalies or trends in data, they can run informed reports on these to encourage positive business change, are crucial for business success.

As leading recruiters with a global network, we have an extensive database of top talented professionals to take your business to the next level, helping you to stay ahead of the competition.

For a confidential discussion on how we can help you get the best talent with the right skills, get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants today.

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