For a sector so vital as engineering, there’s still so much stigma around what the industry actually does. As well as driving economic growth directly, engineering is the success behind a series of other industries with huge GDPR contributions. Industries like information, communication, construction and manufacturing all benefit from growth in engineering. Last year the sector contributed 21.4% (£1.2tn) of the UK’s turnover, however this percentage has lowered since 2017, from 23.3%.
One reason which may be to blame for the slight decrease could be the fact that while industrial and technological industries are growing, some sectors within engineering are in decline. For example, the number of people working in the mining and quarrying sector decreased by 12.6% between 2017 and 2018. Conversely, the decline caused by fading industries does not affect the need for more workers in other areas of engineering that are growing more popular- such as construction, which has seen an employee increase of 3.3% over the same time period.
In fact, there is a consistent pattern emerging from the within the engineering industry which categorises as an urgent need for more skilled workers. From June to August of 2018, the number of job vacancies peaked higher than they had been since 2001, at around 833,000. The lack of professional engineers is posing quite an issue for employers, but for those seeking employment in the engineering industry it presents an assortment of opportunities.
Various research shows an overall lack of knowledge and understanding about careers in engineering, especially in young people, and this can be one of the potential points of blame for the shortfall of engineers. Only 23.6% of 11-14 year olds reported knowing what working in engineering actually entails, compared to 25.5% of 14-16 year olds. A push for more education on the prospects of becoming an engineer is needed to impact and inspire the younger generations into becoming the engineers of the future, and the requirement for which is only expected to grow.
To match the demand for skilled engineers, it’s estimated that 204,000 are going to be required annually until 2024. The high speed rail industry will share a need for technical workers at a figure of around 7,200.
The average salary for professional engineers range between £30,360 and £51,279. However, unfortunately the gender pay gap is still present in the engineering industry. In 2017, the annual salary for full time workers was 18.7% higher than men, which consequently means that only a small percentage of engineering roles are adopted by women.
According to research recruiting engineers is an issue which actively affects employers. 61% of businesses that were surveyed by EngineeringUK reported that they are not confident in finding the required people with the necessary skills to fill vacancies. 46% of business who employed engineers had experienced recruitment difficulties in the past- due to the lack of skilled candidates.
These statistics highlight the difficulty employers’ face with finding suitable skilled engineers, especially when you consider the fact that out of the total UK workforce, 19% are employed within the engineering sector. This comes as no surprise when you consider how directly engineering is linked to other industries and society as a whole. Every £1 which is produced as a result of engineering results in £1.45 generated elsewhere, which puts into perspective how much engineering actually impacts the other industries which make up the UK’s workforce.
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