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Contract engineers were the unsung heroes of COVID19: Reasons to consider becoming a contractor

September 14, 2020
Lukas Vanterpool

Thanks to COVID19, Britain came to realise just how vital previously overlooked roles were; suddenly the general public couldn’t wait to thank their delivery drivers, refuse collection workers and even acknowledge the work of their IT department.


Contract engineers have been the unsung heroes of COVID19

While it was recognised that the food manufacturing and FMCG industry had gone into overdrive to keep up with the increased demand for key items, perhaps outside of these sectors, little was known about how crucial engineers became, and in particular – contract engineers.

In fact, it looks like it has taken a global pandemic for manufacturing businesses to acknowledge the real benefits of contract engineers.

It’s no secret that COVID19 has caused severe financial implications, and while supermarket spending increased, that didn’t mean that food manufacturing businesses were excluded from tightening their purse strings. At that moment, many began to see that it made financial sense to onboard contract engineers. Suddenly, just like pasta, bread and toilet roll, contractors found themselves thrust into the spotlight, and incredibly in-demand.

With the unstable landscape meaning that many permanent staff faced redundancy, there are many reasons for engineers to consider becoming contractors, rather than looking for another permanent role. We explore further, below.


Reasons to consider becoming a contract engineer:


Contractors command higher rates of pay, yet save businesses money

Contract engineers naturally command higher rates of pay than permanent employees. While this increased pay is mostly down to the level of expertise and experience you offer the company, it is also to make up for the fact that you are not provided with benefits such as holiday pay, sick pay or pension contributions.

As a contract engineer, you also offer further cost savings when it comes to saving the business money in training and the recruitment process – not to mention the financial benefits of continuous improvement on machine downtime. Contract engineers are often known to take up time from 72% to 98%.

Contractors can expect to earn rates between £25 and £30 per hour.


As a contractor, you offer manufacturers certainty – when there is no certainty.

Obviously, COVID19 caused all kinds of uncertainty. But one thing was for certain, and that was that food manufacturing businesses had to be running at their maximum capacity because they were trading above Christmas levels.

Contract engineers made it possible for this level of production to continue, by reducing and preventing downtime, they could guarantee high levels of output and efficiency, continuing to meet consumer (and retailer) demand.


But contract engineering is also about flexibility  

As a contractor engineer, you have the power to keep your work flexible to create a work/life balance that suits you. But you also offer flexibility to employers, fitting in when they need someone at short notice.

During the COVID19 pandemic, many contract engineers have been filling gaps when permanent staff have been ill or quarantining. You also provide relief when businesses are struggling to recruit the right person, but need an extra pair of hands. Many contribute to the process of finding the person with the right experience and skill set, offering more in-depth insight into what is needed in the role.


Contract engineers are in demand – securing work for you

Those responsible for hiring have now recognised that there is a place for contractors. It is understood that people in these roles are enabling food manufacturing businesses to be flexible and provide the ability to adapt to the challenges being faced right now.

The increased strains on production and packing lines meant that all categories had been impacted and businesses need to have contingency plans in place. While the future is still unclear, especially amid concerns over a second spike, contract engineers will remain in demand while companies still refrain from the financial commitment and employer responsibility to permanent staff.


It’s easy to start contract work

You just need to decide how you will operate. Many contract engineers decide to set up their own limited company, join an umbrella company or PAYE through an agent.

You will also need to purchase business insurance.

If you have found yourself out of permanent work, now is the time to consider turning to contract engineering. In an ordinary world where contractors seem unpredictable, they can now provide consistency and keep the food manufacturing business, well, manufacturing.


If you have any questions about the benefits of contract engineering and want to learn more, our contract engineering specialist, Jade Sarro, can be contacted using our Contact Us page, via email on jade@thesterlingchoice.com or by calling her direct line on 01733 391515.

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About The Author

Lukas Vanterpool

I started The Sterling Choice with Gareth Whyatt back in August 2013. We’ve always remained true to ourselves and what it is we’re trying to achieve – A great company with great people and great results! This journey never stops, we are always finding ways to support our colleagues and make sure they leave every day feeling fulfilled.

Over the years I’ve always been asked “what’s your USP??, what makes you different from all the other agencies??”. That’s an easy one for me to answer – “Our culture makes our business and our people make our culture”

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