Zoe Woolacott | 16 Dec 2019

Pay growth for workers in engineering

Overall basic pay levels for manual jobs have grown by an average of 3.4% since 2017, compared to just 2.8% for white-collar engineering roles, according to a report on pay in engineering from Incomes Data Research (IDR).

The median basic salary for operators in 2019 is worth £20,570, while technicians typically earn £30,885, which is just below the median rate of £30,950 for junior engineers. For many such workers, basic pay is often further enhanced by shift premiums, overtime and bonus payments.

We also asked survey participants about their experience of recruitment and retention. Just under half (44%) reported that they are currently finding recruitment difficult and a similar proportion (41%) are facing problems with retention, with engineering roles commonly reported as the most difficult to recruit and retain due to a general shortage of skilled engineers across the labour market. Some employers reported that they are developing talent through their apprentice and graduate schemes in a bid to overcome such challenges.

The research also found that annual pay awards for engineering staff are slightly above those for the wider economy in 2019. The median pay award in engineering is 2.6%, compared to the median for the economy as a whole at 2.5%. In the wider manufacturing and primary sector the median pay rise is also 2.6% with the highest awards taking place in aerospace and defence.

Around two-fifths of engineering firms awarded a pay rise in 2019 that was higher than their 2018 increase. Higher-end awards worth 3% or more account for over a third (36%) of engineering pay increases compared with 34% at this level in 2018. The number of pay freezes in, meanwhile, fell from 6% in 2018 to 2% of awards in 2019.

“There has been an increase in the number of employees in this area of the economy receiving a pay rise that is part of a long-term pay deal, thereby setting their annual pay award in advance”, commented Zoe Woolacott.

 The research found that two-fifths of all engineering pay awards monitored during 2019 were part of long-term deals, ranging in duration from 18 months to four years. This is an increase on 2018, when just under a third (29%) of awards were long-term. Nearly a third of long-term pay deals in engineering during 2019 are directly linked to inflation, with organisations mainly using the Retail Price Index (RPI) as the relevant measure of rises in the cost of living.

 Notes for editors

The full report ‘Pay and Conditions in Engineering 2019’ is based on research conducted by Incomes Data Research during Summer 2019. It includes information from 32 major firms across the UK, together employing a combined workforce of over 175,000 employees. As well as details of basic pay rates for 11 manual and engineering jobs the report also provides findings on pay increases, recruitment and retention issues, working hours, holiday entitlement, shift patterns and allowances, overtime, bonuses and pension provision.

For any queries relating to this research, or a word form of this press article, please contact Zoe Woolacott on 01702 669549 or at zoewoolacott@incomesdataresearch.co.uk