Startups — Changing the Engineering Ladder?

Engaging your workforce in the age of the startup.

Eus014 Start Ups Changing The Engineering Ladder Image

According to Forbes, around three million new businesses are started each year in the US. Traditionally, the way to succeed in an engineering career has been to work your way up the corporate ladder, but is the influx of new startups changing this? Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director at EU Automation, looks at how engineering businesses can retain staff in the era of the start-up.

The U.S. has a serious shortfall of engineers. In fact, there is one qualified individual per 1.9 STEM job listings in the U.S., as found in research compiled by Adecco. This means that almost half of these vacancies have no one to fill them. It demonstrates that engineers with the right technical skills and experience are hard to come by — most engineering businesses have reported difficulties recruiting skilled staff.

An engineering career was traditionally about establishing yourself within a company and working your way up the ladder. Now, workers are moving roles more frequently as the perception of job-hopping is changing.

For many young engineers entering the profession, there is a big question: do I join a start-up, a small or medium enterprise (SME), or a big corporation? Young engineers must decide what environment suits them and where they would like to develop their careers.

A new generation of engineers wants to turn their ideas into innovative products and services. They are trained in the most recent technology and want to use these capabilities to become future leaders. So how can you engage with them in the era of the startup?

More than money

The next generation of engineers is motivated beyond just money. It’s not about table football or beanbags either — if you want to motivate young staff, you should give them interesting challenges in areas that can really impact your business. Young software engineers, for example, may feel that a large company offers them less opportunity to influence the code. Change this and you’re on your way to retaining skilled staff.

Joining a startup is typically more flexible. The business is agile, but also prone to failure. Larger companies can offer greater security and can also offer employees resources that wouldn’t be available in a smaller business. A global company may have an entire team dedicated to innovation, rather than just a few staff members.

By sharing your company’s values and mission with employees at all levels, you can bring startup culture to your business. By building a great company culture, where each employee knows how they impact the success of the business, you can also improve workforce engagement.


Upskilling staff is vital to preparing the workforce for Industry 4.0 and will be a key factor in retaining staff in your business. At EU Automation, we take company culture and upskilling our staff seriously — it is our staff that builds relationships with our customers and pushes our business forward. We’ve grown rapidly from a small organization to one with over 100 staff, maintaining elements of start-up culture as we grow.

We’re able to determine each employee’s impact on our business, so they feel both valued and secure. The company also offers training to its diverse workforce, to help drive EU Automation to its position as a leading industrial parts supplier.

With over 3 million new companies launching in the U.S. each year, engineering businesses can learn a few tricks from startup culture, to help engage and motivate the future workforce, whatever the ladder they choose to climb.

Jonathan Wilkins is the marketing director at EU Automation.

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