Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Britain's top 20 recruiters 2014

NCE has compiled a list of the Top 20 consultancy firms based on the number of engineers they recruited last year. The results indicate a healthy global market and big opportunities for anyone looking for a job.

1 Mott MacDonald

Total staff 16,432

Consulting staff 14,016

Engineers recruited 1,289

Graduate engineers recruited 387

Mott MacDonald has grown from 14,000 employees to a 16,000 employee company in the last three years, through organic expansion and acquisitions. The most recent of these was the purchase of contractor Bentley Holdings.

The acquisition included Yorkshire based contractor JN Bentley. Another purchase was AWT, a specialist water technology and consulting company based in New Zealand and Australia.

With over 180 permanent offices in nearly 50 countries and projects in 150, Mott MacDonald has continued to grow its business with major project wins in every region.

This has driven demand for new staff, particularly in the transportation, water, power, oil and gas and buildings sectors.

This range of work bears testimony to the diversity of opportunity at the firm and the number of engineers recruited this year earns it a top ranking in this year’s survey.

The consultant says it will continue to encourage talent at all levels including through its graduate and apprenticeship schemes.

Mott MacDonald is focusing on five key areas as it delivers projects around the world.

  • Digital infrastructure.

This is about using building information modelling and GIS data from project design, and feeding data into construction programmes to save time,
materials and cost. The data adds value to the operation and management of infrastructure. In addition, the company is starting to embed sensors in new and old assets to provide condition and performance data that enables smarter asset management.

  • Sustainability

The company says it has an objective to put sustainability at the heart of project delivery, as well as its own operations.

  • International development The firm claims it is harnessing the expertise of its international teams to deliver solutions that are affordable, workable and durable, equipping clients and communities in fragile countries and emerging markets with infrastructure that contributes to long-term economic growth and social wellbeing.
  • Urbanisation

Mott MacDonald is working on infrastructure upgrades and extensions and contributing to the creation of smart cities and eco-cities, and development projects aimed at combating poverty. Its urbanisation initiative is focused on the provision of basic housing, infrastructure and employment opportunities, to meet the needs of the world’s swelling population.

  • Climate resilience

Finally, the company is addressing climate resilience by helping customers to identify risks, protect their assets where practical, and to recover fast, with minimal disruption to operations, where protection is unrealistic.

2 Jacobs

Total UK staff 8,315

Consulting staff 6,756

Engineers recruited 899

Graduate engineers recruited 245

Jacobs is one of the world’s largest and most diverse providers of technical professional and construction services to industrial, commercial and government clients in multiple markets.

The consultant is a global firm with more than 66,000 employees working across sectors including oil and gas, refining, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, power, nuclear, defence, building, water, rail, aviation, and roads.

Jacobs says it employs some of the UK’s most experienced and skilled technical services professionals and has grown to over 8,000 people in locations across the UK.

With the award of major projects and framework appointments in the sector, the consultant has an aggressive recruitment programme in 2015.

Jacobs says it has opportunities across the UK for experienced professionals particularly in rail, highways, buildings, transport planning, nuclear and defence.

To support the varied backgrounds, talents, skills, and styles of its employees, Jacobs offers a number of networks through which its staff can connect and collaborate.

3 Arup Group

Total staff 12,656

Consulting staff 10,706

Engineers recruited 700

Graduate engineers recruited 290

Arup has been recruiting across its UK Middle East and Africa region with a particular focus on the UK, given the upturn in the economy.

The consultant is actively resourcing talent across the UK to ensure it maintains visibility and reach in local and national talent pools to help it meet the needs of its clients now and in the future. 

The firm says it is seeing growth in many of its core markets, including energy, rail and highways, buildings and architecture.

It is also seeing an increasing number of new and current clients using its planning and advisory services.

AC Milan new stadium

The company sets great store by its independent ownership structure and its ambition “to create an organisation which will allow gifted individuals to unfold”.

In the latest group survey, 85% of its employees said they were proud to work for the company.

Arup regularly partners with humanitarian and charitable organisations and offers employees the chance to donate their time to worthwhile projects in areas of need.

A recent example is a project with aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières to create detailed maps of infrastructure in countries that need to improve accessibility for healthcare professionals.

Recent high profile projects include the proposed new stadium for Italian football side AC Milan and joint venture work with Ramboll to deliver Ring 3, a light rail project in Copenhagen.

With the improving economy and need for investment in science, technology, engineering and maths careers, the consultant says it is recruiting record numbers of early careers talent and can picture similar demand for its 2015/16 intakes.

The company says it needs to ensure that is has a pipeline of talent to help shape the business and the sector and that by taking on apprentices, graduates and placement students, it is helping to develop and nurture some of the best new and young talent.

Last year the company recruited 240 graduates, 180 summer placement students and 40 apprentices and is predicting an even higher demand for candidates this year.

It says that this, combined with growth in demand for more experienced professionals, will see the market become increasingly candidate-led across many skill shortage markets.

The company realises that this drives the need for increasing differentiation in its attraction and selection strategies.

4 Amey

Total staff 4,110

Consulting staff 3,995

Engineers recruited 612

Graduate engineers recruited 103

  • For full details of Amey’s recruitment strategy click here


In the name of absolute accuracy we should add that at the time that we compiled the survey Aecom was still in the process of completing its merger with URS Corporation. As such, it was unable to provide staff recruitment figures. The combined headcount of the two companies on 1 January 2015 was 98,000 worldwide, so it can be assumed that its recruitment figures for 2014 would have ranked it highly in the Top 20. The global figure includes 18,000 members of staff in the EMEA region and 9,000 for the UK and Ireland.

top 20 recruiters


5 Mouchel

Total staff 5,999

Consulting staff 4,791

Engineers recruited 600

Graduate engineers recruited 100

Mouchel has had a successful year, including being appointed to the Highways Agency’s Collaborative Delivery Framework (CDF) as well as winning the A9 Perth to Inverness dualling scheme. Further afield, it secured significant contract wins in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Australia. The consultant is recruiting staff across all disciplines including apprentices, graduates, project managers and engineers. The intelligent transport and transport planning divisions are looking for consultants and transport planners, and the company has just opened a new office in Sydney which it expects to recruit up to 40 engineers.

6 WSP Global

Total staff 2,867

Consulting staff 2,501

Engineers recruited 504

Graduate engineers recruited 144

At the latest view WSP Global had 608 job vacancies in 12 different countries.

These included positions in key sectors such as highways, structural engineering and rail. The company has committed to double its intake of apprentices year on year to create a workforce that is strong enough to deliver on industry challenges.

“Apprentices form an important plank in our strategy and it’s important to us we invest in the very best talent out there” says Carol White, UK head of resourcing.

7 Atkins

Total staff 17,489

Consulting staff 14,813

Engineers recruited 454

Graduates recruited 293

Atkins employs nearly 18,000 people across the UK, North America, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Europe. This year the company has increased recruitment across all of its regions, particularly the Middle East. Civil engineering and project management continue to be the most in demand disciplines, but it believes the whole industry will be challenged to find suitably skilled people to fill these vacancies given the predicted growth in the number of engineering projects globally.


Crossrail: As this major project nears completion, Crossrail 2 is starting to create job opportunities


8 Arcadis UK (formerly Hyder Consulting UK)

Total staff 1,521

Consulting staff 1,359

Engineers recruited 416

Graduate engineers recruited 62

It has been a busy period for Arcadis UK, the company formed when EC Harris parent company Arcadis purchased UK-based Hyder Consulting.

The firm has increased its UK headcount by 16% with nearly 800 permanent new hires joining the business.

Recent wins include: Crossrail 2, the London Bridge redevelopment, the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club redevelopment and its appointment as Lloyds Banking Group’ssingle source professional services provider. 

The company estimates that it will hire around 1,000 new permanent staff in 2015, averaging around 100 new recruits per month.

9 RPS Group

Total staff 4,638

Consulting staff 4,129

Engineers recruited 232

Graduate engineers recruited 23

Recruitment at RPS over the past 12 to 18 months has been particularly strong in the UK and has been driven for the most part by its existing clients progressing projects that had previously been put on hold. RPS has also played a significant role in some major infrastructure projects, and these will continue to present it with a recruitment challenge. The company expects that its recruitment needs will continue to grow during 2015 and beyond with engineering recruitment being a major focus.

10 Capita

Total staff 4,432

Consulting staff 3,958

Engineers recruited 200

Graduate engineers recruited 122

Capita is recruiting at all levels, from business leaders to graduates and apprentices, with a particular drive for new people across the Northern, Midlands and London regions.

The company anticipates major projects such as High Speed 2 and its rail, highways and technology frameworks will continue to deliver growth. It says it is working closely with schools and universities to promote engineering as an exciting and interesting career and is looking at sectors with transferable skills that can be accessed to widen its resource pool. 

11 Costain Group

Total staff 3,732

Consulting staff 949

Engineers recruited 186

Graduate engineers recruited 44

Costain provides its employees and managers with career mapping tools to support their career development.

These tools include career inspiration and advice from leaders within the company, a master schedule of current and planned job roles and career maps detailing possible career paths for staff.

The company recently made a commitment to embed corporate social responsibility in its culture with the launch of the Costain Cares campaign.


Middle East: Work for UK engineers

12 Peter Brett Associates

Total staff 621

Consulting staff 522

Engineers recruited 178

Graduate engineers recruited 45

Peter Brett Associates has been assiduously recruiting infrastructure and development specialists, and currently has opportunities in environmental, energy and structures services, and civils, utilities and engineering.

The firm is heavily involved in delivering on Nationally Significant Infrastructure

Projects and development consent orders, with plans to expand its environmental services division. A major player in regeneration schemes, it offers high-level strategic advice to create value for clients and communities.

It plans to hire over 200 new recruits in 2015, including 50 early-years opportunities for apprentices and graduates.

13 Pell Frischmann

Total staff 927

Consulting staff 811

Engineers recruited 166

Graduate engineers recruited 73

Pell Frischmann says it is the largest family-held firm of consulting engineers in the UK. It says this allows individual member of staff to feel close to the businesses decision-makers. The firm’s resourcing team is currently seeking to fill a number of UK based vacancies in a variety of disciplines and business locations to support its growth strategy. Roles available vary from structural, transportation, water & waste to geotechnical across a range of grades.

14 Waterman Group

Total staff 1,202

Consulting staff 1,070

Engineers recruited 160

Graduate engineers recruited 40

Multidisciplinary consultant Waterman Group has grown into a major company with 15 offices in the UK, plus offices in Australia, Ireland and Poland. It continues to recruit engineers, graduate engineers and apprentices for projects ranging from city centre regeneration to complex healthcare facilities, urban waterfronts, transportation hubs, mixed use developments and educational buildings. The company provides services to markets around the world.

15 Opus International Consultants (UK)

Total staff 443

Consulting staff 387

Engineers recruited 132

Graduate engineers recruited 27

Opus continues to secure a significant amount of work in the rail sector and currently has a variety of bridge design commissions. It has broadened its rail portfolio to include strategic asset management support, geotechnical investigations and buildings asset support. This is in addition to a five year CAFA commission for bridge assessments.

Its recruitment needs are mainly rail, structural, highways and traffic and transportation engineers and the company expects to recruit over 120 engineers in the UK by the end of 2015.

16 Ramboll

Total staff 1,275

Consulting staff 1,100

Engineers recruited 124

Graduate engineers recruited 60

Ramboll recruited significant numbers of engineers in 2014 across a diverse range of engineering disciplines from structural engineers, geotechnical engineers, urban designers and sustainability consultants through to oil & gas and energy consultants. The firm prides itself on a relatively flat management structure and places a strong focus on formal and informal training. The consultant has offices in 300 countries, so employees can expect to be engaged in an interesting array of projects around the world.

17 Cundall

Total staff 461

Consulting staff 393

Engineers recruited 114

Graduate engineers recruited 23

2014 brought a steady increase in recruitment activity at Cundall. “Recent campaigns have seen us secure a wealth of talent, from our new general manager for Asia, to engineers and technicians of all levels and a hugely successful graduate recruitment process,” says Kieran Thompson, recruitment adviser with the firm.

The company has 20 offices across the UK, Europe, the Middle East & North Africa and Asia Pacific and it anticipates 2015 will see further growth in recruitment activity.

18 ERM (Environmental Resources Management)

Total staff 5,144

Consulting staff 4,170

Engineers recruited 100

Graduate engineers recruited 100

Sustainability consultancy ERM recruited a healthy blend of qualified engineers and graduates in 2014. The company continues to grow in core sectors, providing impact assessments, contaminated site management and safety performance improvement to major clients.

The company sets great store by the fact that no two of its consulting roles are the same and that employees are challenged to collaborate with a community of sustainability consultants across the globe.

19 Tony Gee & Partners

Total staff 369

Consulting staff 340

Engineers recruited 91

Graduate engineers recruited 25

Tony Gee & Partners has seen a prolonged period of growth and its need for high calibre technical staff has intensified.

The firm is recruiting across all sectors but mainly in rail, highways, geotechnical and structures.

With the award of Control Period 5 frameworks by Network Rail, the company has been recruiting civil, structural, geotechnical and permanent way engineers to help deliver UK rail projects. It is expanding its rail teams in Manchester and Scotland. Frameworks for SSE and National Grid are also generating career opportunities.

20 Hydrock

Total staff 363

Consulting staff 197

Engineers recruited 65

Graduate engineers recruited 24

Listed in the top 15 in the 2015 Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For, Hydrock’s recruitment and growth in the UK has been significant in recent years. The company aims to be 500-strong by the end of this year, and graduates accounted for 35% of the new hires in the consulting business in 2014.

Recruitment has been across all sectors with particular emphasis on energy, regeneration, transportation and property, in addition to land remediation.
The company is engaged on major UK and international infrastructure projects and landmark buildings.


Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.