Unearthing hidden talent in the sensor market
03/09/2019 by MRL
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If you ask a layman what a sensor does, you’re likely to be met with a blank look – but herein lies the problem. The current talent market within the sub-sector of sensors is crying out for candidates, and a lack of understanding of what they are, what they do and how they work is adding fuel to the flames.
We’re in something of a sticky situation, caught between a rock and a hard place. As with many other talent gaps in many other sectors, the issue stems from a perceived lack of experience. Where sensors differ, however, is that those who feel they’re not experienced enough are often lacking the education too – graduates leaving university have not had the opportunity to specialise in sensors or had any specific exposure to them at all during their studies.
In today’s high tech, hyper-connected landscape, there are more sensors than ever before – and more sensors equals more opportunity. From iPhones and Alexa to autonomous cars and smart cities, sensors are powering technology that we use every day and that is shaping the society we live in. Our exposure to sensors is only set to continue increasing as these technologies evolve and develop, but to do that the sector needs the right talent in place.
Market growth has come by way of a number of innovations but is now largely being driven by one or two select technologies. For the most part, the enhanced focus on autonomous cars has sparked the industry’s predicted compound annual growth rate of 7.8 per cent as a whole host of manufacturers join the race – from Tesla and Ford’s partnership with Rivian, to legacy firms like Mercedes Benz and Nissan. The ever-expanding Internet of Things is causing even the most mundane everyday devices to have sensors built in, and a range of wearable devices and smart speakers are also fuelling growth.
The task at hand, then, is unearthing that talent. The wealth of opportunities presented by the sensor market is conducive to an industry that should be flooded with an eager pool of candidates – it’s an industry in which careers can be varied, well-rewarded and progressive. But the reality is that candidates are not chomping at the bit because of the aforementioned perceived lack of experience, even though it is just that – perceived.
Organisations that are working with sensors are operating largely on a project basis. Employees go from one assignment to another, picking up skills along the way despite often not realising it. Those who say they have no experience working with sensors but have worked on electronic engineering projects in the past, are likely to have some semblance of sensor skills in their armoury and are underselling themselves when looking to make their next move.
It is our job as recruiters to ensure the transfer of those skills from wide-ranging, project-based work to more targeted roles if we’re to begin closing the skills gap. That relies on a range of stipulations, from making sure that the limited exposure the candidate has had to sensors is enough to build on, to correctly valuing the work they do – those who are confident enough in their knowledge of sensors and do put themselves forward often do so at a much higher mark-up than can be justified. In doing that, we’re able to begin to piece the puzzle together.
Whether it’s LIDAR or CMOS, photodiodes or piezometers, sensors and their applications are changing the way the world works. The market is booming, and the talent is out there – somewhere – now we have to work with it and help candidates to understand their potential in the sector. The opportunities are currently endless and will continue to be so as long as we construct and maintain the industry’s talent pipeline.
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