Breakfast with a View: Insights from our Latest Breakfast Club Event

In the serene backdrop of the River Thames, under the rather dull and rainy early March sky, the latest gathering of our Breakfast Club unfolded. This session brought together a diverse group of business and people leaders to delve into the hot topics and challenges of the aerospace, defence, satcom, and space sectors, shedding light on the pressing issues shaping the industry’s talent landscape in 2024. Below, we share a summary of the engaging and thought-provoking discussion.


Bridging the Skills Gap


The dialogue meandered through several pertinent topics, starting with the complexities surrounding apprenticeships and the significant influence of early career experiences. The conversation then shifted towards addressing the widely acknowledged skills gap within various industries. As leaders, we explored the impact of unfilled positions, the importance of recognising transferable skills across different sectors, and the pivotal role of networking in the career trajectories of both candidates and employers. The discussions underscored the indispensable part played by recruitment agencies, such as Holt Executive, in establishing successful partnerships between organisations and talent.


Critical Discussions and Insights:


The Middle Band Challenge: A notable observation was the healthy influx of candidates at both the entry and senior levels, yet the middle band remains a challenge, highlighting a potential area for strategic focus.


Retention Strategies: The absence of specific retention strategies was noted, with companies primarily focusing on reviewing work culture and patterns to keep employees engaged. This sparked a debate on whether more targeted efforts are necessary.


The Power of Networks: A significant portion of the discussion at our breakfast club was dedicated to the impact of professional networks. Insights revealed how senior individuals often leverage their networks for opportunities, while companies utilise these connections to source talent. The discussions also highlighted the dual-edged nature of networking, its influence on decision-making, and its potential to limit diversity in the workforce. The strength of networks lies in the trust placed in them, with individuals relying on their connections to provide honest insights and recommendations. These networks wield significant influence over decision-making processes, determining interview invitations, offers, or rejections, and often serve as guiding factors in shaping interview assessments and focus areas. However, concerns were raised about how heavy reliance on networks may inadvertently perpetuate a lack of diversity, not only in terms of gender and background but also in diversity of thought, prompting calls for a more inclusive and equitable approach to talent acquisition.


Boomerang Employees and Loyalty: The rise in boomerang employees—those who exit and later return to an organisation—was discussed as both a challenge and an opportunity. The conversations touched upon shifting loyalties, with individuals prioritising career growth over organisational allegiance.


Talent Mobility and Specialist Skills: The dialogue explored the movement of talent across sectors, the challenges posed by niche skill requirements, and the strategic importance of developing pathways for talent transition into various roles. There was a general consensus that job mobility is common, although it can often be our sector that tends to lose out on talent. In comparison, other sectors tend to offer higher salaries and smoother transitions for our skilled professionals. For instance, banks often readily hire aerospace engineers, while the space sector may struggle to attract talent from banking backgrounds, especially considering the pay gap. To level the playing field, so to speak, it’s essential to assist hiring managers in developing strategic roadmaps to highlight potential transferable skills and facilitate talent acquisition from diverse backgrounds.


Apprenticeships and Career Pathways: The event delved into the use of apprenticeship levies, the integration of apprentices in a hybrid work environment, and the importance of role models in fostering a conducive learning atmosphere for apprentices. By showcasing the diversity of roles and career journeys, we underscored the potential benefits for both employees and employers in embracing unconventional career paths. Continuing this topic, we delved into the significance of tracking career trajectories of individuals who have taken non-traditional or nonlinear paths.


Professional Accreditation: The value of professional accreditation, such as CEng, IEng, or EngTech, was debated, with a consensus on the need for better education among hiring managers to recognise the meaning and the value of such qualifications. In some regions, such as France, professional registration is a mandatory requirement to hold the title of engineer, akin to the requirement for doctors in the UK. However, in the UK, professional registration is not mandatory, leading to varied perceptions of the engineer title.




The event concluded with reflections on the importance of breaking industry stereotypes, especially among the younger generation. Participants discussed strategies to showcase the breadth of career opportunities beyond traditional roles, emphasising the need for industry partnerships with educational institutions to provide genuine insight and inspire future talent.

This Breakfast Club event not only served as a platform for thought-provoking discussion but also highlighted the collective responsibility of leaders to shape a future where talent, regardless of its origin, is nurtured and valued across industries.

If you would like to know more about any of the topics we discussed and how they fit into your talent attraction and retention strategies, or if you are interested in joining our next Breakfast Club event, please get in touch with Jules Hyam at

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