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Developing the Engineering Pipeline

04/09/18 Mike Jenkins Senior Consultant - R&D & Engineering

Engineering plays a vital role in the UK’s economic and societal wellbeing, providing quality employment on a large scale and some of the key solutions to major global challenges. In the face of technological advancements and a changing political and economic landscape, developing the pipeline to address the skills needed of the engineering and engineering sector remains a key challenge.

The UK is faced with an engineering skills shortage, with people in this career being more in-demand than ever. But where are the biggest gaps and which engineering jobs are most affected?

With the pace of engineering getting faster and faster, the role of the engineer continues to advance as they strive to teach themselves about the latest technologies and integrate technological advances into new products.

However, many remain optimistic about their profession. According to the Electronic Design Salary and Career report 2017, nearly 90% of survey respondents said that they enjoy their current position, which polled around 1,350 engineers.

Nearly two-thirds indicated that the salary presented by their employers was what they deserved, whilst around 90% said they took pleasure in the challenges that accompanied new product design. Persistent concerns were around working conditions, outsourcing, and short-sighted management.

With over 30 years’ experience and having worked with some of the UK's and mainland Europe's most interesting high-technology, IT and engineering companies, Mike Jenkins, Redline's R&D and Engineering Senior Consultant discusses further.

“Today’s engineers possess a strong skillset that has kept demand for engineering and technical jobs at a record high and therefore provides stable employment for those in the engineering, technical and electronics professions. Engineering can be challenging in a way that is stimulating and satisfying. The downside is that the constant level of challenge and the need for maintaining and enhancing their skillset can be challenging,” says Mike.

Despite the challenges and sacrifices of an engineering career, more than two-thirds of respondents said a head-hunter or recruitment agency had approached them within the last year, suggesting mounting competition for engineering expertise. Employers are slowly boosting compensation packages and improving benefits such as health, pension, life assurance, retention bonuses, and other incentives to fill open engineering positions.

According to the Engineering UK 2018: The state of engineering report, in the two decades to 2014, the number of high-skilled jobs in the UK has risen by 2.3 million and, in many sectors, employers are routinely reporting that they are struggling to fill positions. With over 61% of businesses surveyed in the CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey expressing a lack of confidence that there will be enough people available in the future with the necessary skills to fill their high-skilled job vacancies. Shortages in highly skilled labour are expected to be exacerbated by the growth of new industries, some of which scarcely yet exist, emerging from new technologies and knowledge.

UK Engineering facts:

  • 1.74 jobs are supported by every person employed in engineering (a multiplier effect of 2.74)
  • Engineering generated 23% (£1.23 trillion) of the UK’s total turnover
  • 157,000 new jobs in big data will be created by 2020
  • 124,0000 engineers and technicians with core engineering skills are required every year

The UK Shortage Occupation List 2018 gives details of the engineering professions that are in high demand which included Process Safety Engineers, Mechanical Engineers for the aerospace sector, Electrical Engineers, Mechanical Design Engineers, production and Process Engineer roles and Engineering Management Jobs.

It is apparent that the scarcity of candidates, together with rising demand, has had a positive knock-on effect on engineers’ salaries. Engineering UK’s analysis found that the median salaries of full-time employees working in engineering occupations in 2016 – ranging between £32,987 for environmental professionals and £47,394 for electronic engineers – compared very favourably to the overall average of £28,195.

Mike continues: “If modern engineering is to continue to provide its enormous economic and social contributions to the UK, it is of critical importance that the engineering community work alongside the government and education sector to address the skills shortage. 

STEM subjects have been unpopular for a while, with many schools unable to encourage anyone to take these subjects at A-Level. It is hoped that by demonstrating to both children and young adults just how exciting, as well as profitable, engineering can be, the skills crisis can be corrected as the next generation of highly qualified engineers join the workplace. 

Plugging the skills gap is going to be a long process, but there is hope. The government, industry leaders and engineering enthusiasts alike have all begun to look at solutions to overcome the staffing problems. Whether the resolution comes in the form of STEM, the school syllabus or adult training schemes, recognising the engineering crisis in the UK is the first step towards solving it.”

For further information on Engineering and Technical jobs, click here or for more Engineering Recruitment and R&D jobs in high technology and electronics environments, please contact Mike Jenkins on 01582 878827 or send an email to MJenkins@RedlineGroup.com