Every maritime engineering organisation knows that frustrating feeling; when you have a role that you struggle to find the perfect candidate for. But we should ask ourselves the question, is there ever a perfect candidate?

At Marine People, our tagline is Recruit. Retain. Develop, Diversify.

Perhaps the most important element of the things we see as vital to recruitment is professional development. Bringing onboard candidates who aren’t the finished article is always a gamble for businesses, but one that could potentially pay dividends in the search for talented Marine Engineers.

By diversifying recruitment and committing to candidate development, we can find talent that standardised recruitment methods miss. Often these capable and diverse engineers slip through the system and end up cut adrift from relevant full-time employment. A 2016 study by the Royal Academy of Engineering found that despite 26% of UK Engineering graduates coming from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, they only make up 6% of full-time employed engineers.

The UK is also behind the rest of the world when it comes to gender equality in engineering. Currently, only 8% of engineers in the country are female.

Putting diversity at the forefront of recruitment has a proven track record. The same Royal Academy of Engineering study found that companies in the top quartile for racial/ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median.

The strong business case for diversity and inclusion in recruitment should go hand in hand with the strong moral case. With the current percentage of BAME engineers in the UK half of their population makeup, it is only right that recruiters and businesses commit to making the Marine Engineering sector representative.

How can we change to embrace Diversity & Inclusion?

Understanding unconscious bias and how this limits workplace diversity can help to shape new recruitment methods.

The UK Civil Service has introduced blind CV screening the majority of their recruitment processes and have seen an uptake in the number of BAME candidates applying in line with their targets. By taking out gender and ethnicity indicators from personal information, it allows recruiters to view a candidate on their competencies, rather than preconceived notions which appear to be embedded in recruitment methods rather than those carrying out the process.

Commitment to candidate development can also be used to look past abnormalities at the screening stage – this is the key to filling niche technical roles, by expanding the search to locate engineers left behind by ineffective recruitment methods of the past.

At Marine People, we focus on finding well-rounded candidates whose experiences benefit their skillset. Establishing that there is no ‘perfect’ candidate and instead focusing on retaining and developing engineers, we can diversify talent acquisition.