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How to find a good lift engineer

2nd April 2024

When looking for a good lift engineer, you will want someone that is skilled in their field. By skilled we are referring to a combination of work experience and qualifications, including regular training. Unfortunately, there are challenges within the lift industry that makes finding a competent, skilled engineer much more difficult than you’d expect. Here are some of the issues currently facing the industry.

Fewer engineers
The economic squeeze, rising inflation and high costs of parts has made times a lot harder for lift companies, so recruiting is not necessarily on their agenda. It has been the case for some time now that lift engineers often work alone, whilst previously there would have been at least two engineers on any job. On the one hand, this in theory, means that cost is reduced for the customer, as well as the lift company. However, it has also inevitably led to a reduction in qualified staff available. This has led to something of a bidding war with lift companies having to meet wage demands of staff to retain the ‘good’ engineers they have. The focus therefore, has shifted to increasing margins and appeasing existing staff, rather than on recruitment and development.

This is compounded by the fact that the industry isn’t generally considered very ‘sexy’. The industry as a whole is failing to communicate the benefits of becoming a lift engineer effectively and therefore isn’t attracting talented individuals into the profession.

Skills shortage
Unfortunately tough times means cutbacks, which includes cutbacks on training. With training budgets under pressure, engineers are not able to develop their skills and keep up to date with the latest health and safety requirements of the industry. While some larger companies have in-house training centres this is of course, limited to their own staff and not available to the open market. With engineers working individually in silos, the benefit of learning from other engineers on the job is lost, which further hinders their skills development.

Unlike other engineering roles, the lift industry has a low barrier to entry. In some sectors engineers (chemical, software, civil etc) need to be educated to degree level. In the lift industry, however, the Government’s National Careers Service recommends a relatively basic level of minimum qualification –  an NVQ for Level 1 and 4-5 GCSE’s or equivalent for Level 3.  It is also an issue with NVQs that they do not cover all aspects of the lift industry.  Another pathway to the industry is via an apprenticeship. However, these are unfortunately another victim of cutbacks and are currently in short supply.

Crucially, there is no legal requirement for lift engineers to have a recognised qualification, and indeed, no recognised minimum standard. This leaves it up to individual lift companies to stipulate the necessary requirements. For example, we recently found a vacancy on a recruitment website for the role of ‘Lift Installation Engineer’. The salary was ‘up to £85,000 per annum’ for an NVQ Level 3 plus a minimum of two years’ experience. All-in-all the skills and training demands of the industry means lift engineers can be poorly skilled, qualified or trained, as well as inexperienced. This of course poses a significant extra risk to health and safety in a sector where risks are already high.

How to find the ‘good’ engineers
It is this concern over the health and safety that inspired the creation of the LiftSafe register, and the current shortage of ‘good engineers’, has made it all the more important. LiftSafe makes it easy for you to find a subcontractor with engineers skilled in the specific area you need. We vet all engineers listed on the LiftSafe website to ensure they have the relevant qualifications and certification, and that they are also undertaking regular training, through Toolbox Talks, for example. This stringent process provides you with peace of mind they are qualified to carry out the required work without unnecessary risk to health and safety. LiftSafe is free of charge for all lift contractors, so, for the right engineer, with the right credentials, search the LiftSafe register here.

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