Four out of five British engineers (79%) say they are prepared to leave the UK and work on projects overseas according to research from Roevin, a specialist engineering recruitment company.

With businesses increasingly looking to international markets, pressure is being applied to engineering professionals to be more mobile and consider working abroad.

In a poll with today’s engineering workforce, exciting locations and elevated benefits packages are cited as key incentives for British engineers. Remuneration is the single biggest draw for working overseas (75%), but a more attractive lifestyle (53%) and valuable work experience (48%) are also significant drivers. However, over half of respondents (52%) agree that the main drawback to working overseas is the absence of family and friends.

Roevin’s research suggests that a real war for talent is developing, as high levels of demand for senior and design engineers continue both globally and in the UK. A third (29%) of all survey respondents see Asia and the Middle East as the next global hotspots for engineering. Africa and South America are also seen as key areas for growth. As British engineers are enticed into overseas roles, the UK skills deficit is worsening.

Mark Tully, managing director of Roevin, said, “International experience tends to put candidates into a different league compared to their ‘stay at home’ peers and really gives them an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. But whilst this is great for individuals, it is creating a challenging market for businesses and the UK faces a potentially serious skills shortage by 2014.

“There are huge mining projects in Western Australia that are positively impacting on demand in the global engineering sector. Significant salary packages are being offered to attract engineers to work in the outback on projects lasting several years, which is draining the available talent pool in the UK. As senior engineers are lured away from the UK by glamorous locations, improved quality of life and generous remuneration packages, UK companies increasingly have to rely on innovative retention strategies or bringing their own young talent through.

“With fewer STEM educated candidates in the talent pipeline, a more defined and cohesive strategy for attracting candidates into engineering is needed. There is a great opportunity to encourage a new generation of successful engineers, with a focus on those who understand business vision and can help bring it to life. Great candidates start with the right education – it is important for the engineering sector to work with the government to re-introduce apprenticeship schemes, invest in youth training and ensure that schools and universities understand the importance of engineering to the UK.”