Industry Feature: Are skills transferable across Engineering sectors?

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With the recent downturn of the oil and gas sector, there has been a remarkable increase in the amount of people looking to join a different industry to the one they have built their career in. A lot of people from oil and gas felt their skills were transferable enough to move to, for example, the nuclear or pharmaceutical industry.

From nearly a decade of working in recruitment I have heard varying opinions and points of view about how valuable relevant sector experience is. So, I thought it best to collect a sample of responses from the Engineering sector.

Subsequently, I put together a questionnaire to get an idea of people’s thoughts and experiences directly from the industry, and sent it out to my connections on LinkedIn.

Here are the results…

A whopping 67% of respondents stated that they feel skills are transferrable across all sectors, with only 3% asserting that specific sector knowledge and experience is essential. The remaining 30% declared that skills could be transferred between some sectors but not all.

Linked to this, out of the Engineers who responded, only 6% said they would not be happy working alongside someone unless they had specific experience in that sector (although 3% said they would be happy if that person was an apprentice). Of the remaining responses, 72% said they would expect the Engineer to pass a relevant competency assessment prior to starting.

The candidates that responded were from a wide range of industries, however the majority did feel that their experience could be, or indeed has been, utilised across multiple sectors.

Sectors that the candidates currently work in:

Oil & Gas 65.08%
Nuclear 57.14%
Consultancy 55.56%
Manufacturing 46.03%
Petrochemical/Chemical 44.44%
Water/Waste Water 26.98%
Power 46.72%
Aerospace 22.22%
Defence 44.44%
Building Services 25.40%
Renewable 19.05%
Civil Construction 22.22%


Sectors where they feel their skills could be utilised:

Oil & Gas 68.75%
Nuclear 67.19%
Consultancy 78.13%
Manufacturing 60.94%
Petrochemical/Chemical 65.63%
Water/Waste Water 51.56%
Power 67.19%
Aerospace 34.38%
Defence 46.88%
Building Services 45.31%
Renewable 54.69%
Civil Construction 37.50%


Summarising my findings I have discovered the following…..

The above tables show that the general feeling across the Engineering industry is that skills from one industry are transferable, and indeed that some companies are missing out by not accepting candidates from related sectors.

Of the candidates surveyed, 55% were Contractors, and a whopping 91% of people fathomed that Contractors had a wider range of knowledge that allowed them to work across sectors.

1 out of 4 of the candidates who answered the questionnaire stated they had struggled to gain an opportunity in a different sector to their background and had recently had an application rejected for this reason. Only 38% had actually been given the chance to work across a variety of sectors.

The answer to this?

Well, according to nearly ¾ of responses, the simple retort is to work as a contractor and have the flexibility to move across sectors throughout the roles you do.

I understand that these findings a sample of Engineers, and appreciate that there will be many differing opinions which either agree or disagree with these conclusions. My personal opinion, for what it’s worth, is that engineers can obviously offer expertise to various sectors, and may even bring a new lease of life to the table. This being said, there will be situations where very specific experience is required, and of course this can only be obtained by working within that precise industry.

I leave this here as an open forum, and welcome experiences and opinions. Please do feel free to complete my short questionnaire by clicking on the link below. The more responses I receive, the more rounded the results will become!




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