Recruiting temp to perm for engineering vacancies? Here’s what you need to consider:

When it comes to engineering vacancies, the cost of having machines running idle or having to turn away work because you don’t have the capacity can be huge as the value of goods for precision engineered parts or large-scale project be even greater; this means that it’s vital to get roles filled quickly, and with the best people for the job. Using an agency to provide candidates on a temporary basis before transferring them to permanent contracts after a successful trial period is one solution many engineering businesses have found to get the best candidates. But is it right for your business’ hiring needs? We’ve summarised some of the main pros and cons of temp to perm, so you can make an informed decision about how best to fill that open vacancy.


Pro #1 – Immediate starts

9 times out of 10, someone will only take a temporary job if they’re currently out of work. And that means they can start a new job straight away. The agency will handle referencing and right-to-work checks in the first instance, so besides a bit of health and safety induction and signing weekly timesheets, you don’t need to any admin yourself.  Once the candidate is up to speed, then you can think about getting them onto your books once the urgent need has passed.

Con #1 – Reduced applicant pool

UK unemployment is at record lows, with Stockport and Trafford having some of the lowest unemployment in the North-West. Add to that the already significant skills shortages in the engineering sector, and your candidate pool for temp to perm jobs becomes dramatically smaller. The more niche your business, the more niche the skills required, that number gets even smaller still.  By offering permanent contracts from the get go, you’re opening up the candidate market and making your vacancy more appealing to those already in work.

Pro #2 – Try before you buy

Because the key skills required for hands-on engineers are practical in nature, it’s not always easy to pick out the best candidates in a straight interview. It’s a lot easier to talk the talk in a job interview than it is to walk the walk on the shop floor.  Starting new employees on a temporary contract allows a business to trial them out, and makes it much easier to let someone go if things aren’t working out, or you can commit to a permanent contract once skills have been demonstrated.

Con #2 – Less cost-effective

If you have someone on a temporary contract and things don’t work out, you only need pay an agency for the hours worked. However, when the candidate is successful, a transfer fee will also apply, which can be as much as you would have paid taking the candidate permanently from day 1. While you might make a saving if candidates are usually unsuccessful, successful hires will be more expensive. You’ll also miss out on any rebates or refunds you might have been entitled to should the candidate been on a permanent contract from day 1.  Offering permanent contracts straight away, and perhaps incorporating a work trial or practical assessment into the interview process, will usually be more cost-effective.

Pro #3 – Flexibility for the business

For a growing business, demand for your products may not be consistent, but new workers will be necessary to take on the larger orders that will help to develop the business. In these cases, temp-to-perm contracts will offer greater flexibility as if increased staffing levels aren’t sustainable due to failing demand or the unexpected loss of any contracts, you have fewer staff tied into permanent contracts.

Con #3 – Less job security for the worker

While it’s true that a business can terminate the engagement of a temporary worker for any reason with no notice, the workers are entitled to the same rights. Most temporary workers, even with the promise of a permanent contract on the cards, will be keeping an eye on the jobs market just in case things don’t turn out as they expected. And if a better opportunity comes along – perhaps with more money, better hours or closer to home – there’s nothing to stop someone jumping ship to a competitor offering a permanent job.

For more help and advice in recruiting for hands-on engineering roles, get in touch with one of our Stockport engineering recruitment team to find the best solutions to fill your vacancy.