Navigating Talent Acquisition Challenges in the UK Space Sector: Tapping into Untapped Potential

Posted on November 15, 2023


The UK Space Sector, with its relentless pursuit of cosmic exploration and groundbreaking innovations, is an industry like no other. Yet, even in the vast expanse of space, there are challenges that transcend interstellar boundaries. Talent acquisition, the cornerstone of sector success, has come under the spotlight. We’ve combed through the insights gleaned from the Space Sector Skills Survey, where 218 organizations cast their cosmic net, and found that recruitment difficulties have become more prevalent in recent times. In this blog, we’ll explore the challenges, statistics, and a potential solution that could be the rocket fuel for success – tapping into the untapped talent in Civil, Structural, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering.

  1. Insights from the Space Sector Skills Survey:

The Space Sector Skills Survey, a litmus test for the state of talent acquisition, provides us with key statistics:

Active Recruitment: An impressive 62% of the 218 organisations surveyed had been on a recruitment spree in the past 12 months. The primary motivation? Expansion. Nearly half (50%) of the recruits were ushered in to fuel the sector’s growth, while an additional 15% were replacing departing team members.

Rising Recruitment Hurdles: Alas, the space sector’s talent acquisition journey is not all smooth sailing. A whopping 80% of organisations reported recruitment difficulties, marking an increase of nearly 20% since the 2020 survey. The common culprits? The lack of specialist skills, knowledge, or qualifications among applicants and the scarcity of candidates overall.

Competitive Cosmos: But the main celestial adversary faced by organizations in the UK Space Sector is competition, as reported by 68% of survey respondents. And within the realms of competition, the heavyweight contender is engineering, accounting for 39% of the challenges.

  1. Untapped Potential in Engineering:

So, where do we find the solution to this cosmic conundrum? The answer may lie closer to home than you’d think, in the form of professionals from Civil, Structural, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering disciplines. Here’s why these engineering fields are a treasure trove of untapped potential:

Transferable Skills: Candidates from these backgrounds bring a wealth of transferable skills to the table. Whether it’s structural analysis, project management, mechanical design, or electrical systems knowledge, they have a lot to offer.

Problem-Solving Prowess: Engineers are known for their problem-solving abilities. They are adept at dissecting complex issues and finding creative solutions, a skill highly valuable in the space sector, where troubleshooting is a daily routine.

Technical Proficiency: Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, in particular, bring their technical expertise to the space sector. They are well-versed in machinery, electronics, and systems, which are essential in spacecraft design and maintenance.

Adaptability: Candidates with experience of working within Engineering are accustomed to adapting to new challenges and learning quickly. The space sector is notorious for its rapid technological advancements, making the adaptability of these candidates a valuable asset.

Innovation Drive: Many candidates with engineering backgrounds are naturally inclined towards innovation and enjoy working on projects that push the boundaries of human knowledge. The UK Space Sector provides the ideal platform for these aspirations.

III. Strategies to Harness Untapped Talent:

Here are some strategies that can help organisations in the UK Space Sector tap into this pool of untapped engineering talent:

Customized Recruitment Approach: Tailor recruitment strategies to actively target candidates from Civil, Structural, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering backgrounds. Highlight the transferable skills and how they can contribute to the sector.

Training and Upskilling: Offer training and upskilling programs to bridge the gap between engineering expertise and the specialised requirements of the space sector. This can include courses on space systems, satellite technology, or orbital mechanics.

University Partnerships: Collaborate with universities offering engineering programs to identify and nurture talent. Develop internships, mentorship programs, and research collaborations to encourage engineering students to pursue careers in the space sector.

Career Advancement Opportunities: Promote the potential for career advancement within the sector. Engineers often seek opportunities to work on challenging projects and make a significant impact, something the space sector offers in abundance.

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: Ensure that recruitment efforts align with diversity and inclusion initiatives. This not only expands the talent pool but also fosters a more inclusive and innovative work environment.


Talent acquisition challenges in the UK Space Sector are a real and growing concern. As the sector experiences rapid growth and intensifying competition, the demand for specialised skills becomes more critical. The untapped potential within Civil, Structural, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering disciplines can be a valuable resource to bridge the talent gap.

By customising recruitment strategies, offering training, partnering with universities, and promoting career advancement, the sector can harness this untapped talent and propel the industry further into the cosmos of innovation and discovery. The future of the UK Space Sector depends on its ability to assemble the right teams, and these engineers may just hold the key to reaching for the stars and beyond.

Alexander Associates, a premier recruitment firm dedicated to providing exceptional talent solutions to businesses in need of high-quality professionals, particularly those with a background in Engineering. Established in 1989, our firm has consistently upheld a reputation for excellence and personalised service that is unrivalled in the industry. For a confidential discussion on how we could help you or your business please contact or visit

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    Stuart Catchpole

    Space Cluster Manager
    New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)