Tackling RF engineer shortages demands a long-term approach

4 January 2022

Katie Graham – Head of HR – Filtronic

Radio frequency (RF) is a central building block within an array of everyday electronics and communication devices. The demand is everywhere, but the supply of RF engineers is not. Recruiting the best talent for any business is always a challenge, but recruiting well-qualified RF engineers in the UK poses a considerable test.

The UK’s ambition to develop sovereign capability for telecommunications infrastructure, semiconductor supply chains, defence and space is dependent on RF as a technology, and therefore the RF technical skills to deliver that.

Are there enough RF engineers?

At Filtronic we believe the solution requires an industry wide approach. For example, the lack of focus within UK Universities on radio frequency engineering and post graduate research opportunities limits the talent pool further. Put simply, there are not enough RF-qualified engineers in the UK. The shortage is worse the higher up the RF spectrum you go.

To solve this, Filtronic has developed its own graduate recruitment programme that invests in graduates from other complimentary disciplines and provides a range of on-the-job training for new recruits. In fact, the one-to-one support new starters receive from our experienced engineers is a significant benefit of joining Filtronic. Here, you get to collaborate directly with leading thinkers from our industry on exciting projects for tech giants, your work is highly visible and has real impact.

Demanding applications for next generation technologies

Filtronic products are applied in challenging applications such as 5G backhaul, AESA radar and satellite communications. These high-performance technologies for exacting Fortune 500 clients require high-calibre engineers. These engineers will not always be based locally, it required a rethink to develop a more flexible hybrid working environment. The pandemic has taught all of us that flexibility is a key component to business survival.

Tackling a skills shortage requires a long-term collaborative commitment between organisations such as Filtronic, universities, schools and the government. As an industry, we are competing against perceived ‘higher-profile’ disciplines, such as AI and robotics, to entice talented graduates. Therefore, the RF industry and education sector have a collective responsibility to showcase the future opportunities of a career in RF engineering. RF engineers are critical to a range of exciting opportunities from space exploration to smart cities and beyond.

Long-term commitment

There are no quick fixes to the talent shortage. Filtronic is working hard to address the issues internally by investing in our people, facilities and processes, as well as externally by collaborating with key partners such as universities and research institutes.

Our approach needs to be multi-faceted to continue to attract leading RF engineers. We have had to adapt our recruitment strategy and evolve our working practices. Equally we have increased investment in our own graduate recruitment scheme. We have also appointed a new Director of Technology, responsible for building closer relationships with organisations across the research spectrum.

If the UK is to build long-term national resilience in vital industries, then RF has a key role to play. To deliver that requires a combined effort between the public and private sector and an altogether different approach.

To learn more about Filtronic’s capabilities within critical industries such as Aerospace, Defence, Telecommunications Infrastructure and Space, click here

To learn more about a career at Filtronic click here

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