Josh Egerton joined DATS in 2019 and has already amassed a huge store of insight, experience and market analysis. He specialises in Chemical and Process Engineering; here are his thoughts on what the industry holds for clients and candidates…
I held a range of positions before joining DATS, mostly in sales and customer service. They helped a lot, to be honest – not only in terms of spotting opportunities, but knowing how to chat to people, which is invaluable in recruitment. I fell in love with the business from day on. My interest in this line of work has always been pretty high, so it was a natural move for me.
When we talk about Chemical and Process Engineering professionals, we actually mean the experts who design, implement, control or optimize industrial processes. Process development never really stops. Chemical/Process Engineers provide the chemical or biochemical processes and equipment that are used to turn raw materials into an end product. This is an essential part of the manufacturing industry.
Chemicals are a large (and growing) part of this engineering specialism. Our candidates need to know the properties of what’s being changed, as well as how to track those changes.
New process plants aren’t as abundant anymore
One of the key things I’ve learned is just how much the sector has shifted from Greenfield Projects to Brownfield with most client focused on developing existing infrastructure.
Front-End Design Engineers aren’t as prevalent today as they were a decade ago, the focus seems to have moved away from chemical and process engineers who are only focused on design to engineers who are more focused on the whole cycle, able to work across design through to commissioning and then improvement. Still, around 1 in 10 engineers are Process experts – they’re focusing on chemical, pharmaceutical and petrochemicals projects, often starting off on a graduate programme through their Chemical Engineering degree. Large employers within the Northwest still operate excellent graduate schemes and will normally take a graduate engineer on once a year.
Part of the switch stems from a reduced interest in fossil fuels and the oil crash. The price of Oil fell to a level where it was no longer economically viable for the UK and some parts of Europe to produce oil as they could not compete with other oil producing countries. We seem to be coming out of that now and a number of oil manufacturers and subcontractors seem to be picking back up.
With the UK’s focus on Renewable energy it also provides an opportunity for Chemical and Process Engineers to adapt plants infrastructure for this purpose as well as design brand new plants.
Pharma processes will keep us competitive post-Brexit
Obviously, Brexit is still an unknown. But pharmaceuticals could pull us out of any potential challenges. They remain in the UK’s top 10 exports, and Chemical and Process Engineers are at the heart of increased production and quality.
I’d say it could strengthen our hand in any future trade deals. Pharma already makes up a substantial percentage of our manufacturing base, so we need to keep getting the right candidates onto sites where they can make a real difference in the Northwest.
The 7th AMP is going to be huge
Every five years, the Asset Management Period (AMP) sets out who wins the biggest consultancy contracts for the UK’s water sector. This includes all pipelines, drainage, reservoirs and aqueducts, as well as measuring residential units for water integration. AMP7 is due to run from 2020 until 2025. It’ll have a clear impact on where candidates will go, and who they prefer to work for.
We’ll be following the AMP7 results avidly here at DATS. Along with incoming changes to IR35 for private contractors, we’re able to advise on where the best placements are, along with the reasons to stay independent or take a permanent role.
The more I talk to people, the more I learn. I’m excited about whatever the Chemical and Process Engineering discipline throws up next!
If you think Josh could help you with your next Process or Chemical Engineering role, drop him a line.
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