New research from EngineeringUK determines that when choosing a career, half of young people aged 11 to 19 think that ‘making a difference’ is an important consideration and 76% say they do not really know what working in engineering actually means.
As well as the overall lack of engineers and lack of knowledge of the industry, there is plenty of opportunity for a more diverse market according to statistics. Unfortunately, only 12% of engineers are women - and only 9% are made up of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic).
Engineering is one of the UK’s leading work industries, and makes up a significant portion of the UK’s economy.
The sector is responsible for £280bn of the UK’s gross value added – which equates to an entire fifth of the total sum – according to research from the Royal Academy of Engineering and Physical Research Council.
When you take the industry’s economic scale into consideration, it may come as a surprise to learn of the current shortage of engineers. EngineeringUK estimate that the industry is short of around 59,000 engineers per year – leaving a wide gap in the market for employment opportunities across all areas of engineering – and this figure is only predicted to increase for years to come.
Online search results featuring generic images of what engineering looks like have fueled the existing misconceptions.
Dr Hayaatun Sillem, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, explains: “Engineering and technology play an incredible role in shaping the world around us and in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges, from providing a sustainable supply of food, water and clean energy, to advancing healthcare, and keeping us safe and secure. We know that young people increasingly want to tackle these issues and make a difference in the world, but unfortunately the lack of understanding around engineering is stopping them from exploring careers that will enable them to do this.”
The engineering industry is screaming out for a complete representation refurbishment, which is why ‘This is Engineering Day 2019’ is focusing on challenging the common stereotypes surrounding engineers. There is an endless amount of careers in the engineering sector – and not all of them require you to wear a hard hat and a high-vis vest. The whole industry is comprised of a range of different smaller industries within.
The gap in the market means that now is an advantageous time for those seeking a career in engineering, or that hope to in the future. The opportunity to contribute and positively impact society, the rewarding nature of the profession and the salary prospects are all elements which make engineering an exciting and fulfilling career choice.
To provide you with a better knowledge of the sector’s possibilities - we have produced a list of some of the more uncommon types of engineer, which you might not consider initially – or even know exist.
- Aerospace Engineer
This is the field which is dedicated to designing and building machines that fly. There are two main parts of this type of engineering – aeronautical and astronautical.
Aeronautical focuses on aircraft design and construction such as jets and helicopters whereas astronautical is the build of spacecraft – like rockets and satellites. Both disciplines are thriving due to the competitive nature of flight innovation, creating a surge of demand for aerospace engineers.
- Computer Engineer
Technological advancements from recent decades have essentially changed all aspects of the world as we know it, and therefore have had an undeniable impact on the economy. Computer Engineers are to thank for the developments that have been made and have impacted almost every industry on a global scale.
Computer engineering is specific to developing either hardware or software.
- Food Engineer
Food engineering creates challenges that differentiate profusely from those in other areas of engineering. For example, food is perishable and it is vital that certain measures are taken to ensure food safety when it is mass-produced. Taste is also a key factor which needs to be specially considered and engineered. Food production is one of the largest industries in the world and will continue to keep growing – creating a reliable stream of job opportunities.
- Geotechnical Engineer
Geotechnical engineering focuses on the design and construction of foundations to support building infrastructure. This area of engineering requires a thorough understanding of the earth’s surfaces and each individual project will require a study into the ground which is going to be built on. A geotechnical engineer will be able to design and develop the underground support which each structure requires.
- Biomedical Engineer
This branch of engineering focuses on human and animal biology and contributes to advancements in medicine and health science. Some responsibilities of a biomedical engineer may be designing artificial organs or a prosthetic limb. This is one of the most modern areas of engineering and the role requires a vast skill-set across other areas of engineering.
- Data Engineer
A data engineer is responsible for constructing and providing an infrastructure for data to be collected and stored into. This section of the engineering sector is closely linked to computer science. As a data engineer you will work with computer systems and build algorithms to structure data in an efficient way.