Despite the difficulties of Brexit and pandemic-related economic uncertainty, engineering and manufacturing remains central the the British economy, generating over twenty percent of the UK’s GDP. However, in recent years employers have found it increasingly difficult to fill engineering vacancies, and according to a recent Recruitment Employment Confederation (REC) Jobs Outlook report the situation is deteriorating.
As the UK attempts to increase productivity whilst progressing towards a zero emission economy, engineers have never been in greater demand. However, but due to a number of interconnected factors from an outdated image problem to a lack of educational pathways, Britain is struggling to produce the workforce of tomorrow.
Nonetheless, some businesses and institutions are attempting to address the issue, from advertising engineering education to a wider cross-section of society and making the roles more inclusive, to refocusing on apprenticeships that often offer the best route into the sector. And for those that do take up a career in engineering, there a a wide variety of industries they could choose.
At its most recent estimate, the UK’s low carbon and renewable energy economy (LCREE) was valued at £42.6 billion and this is a figure that will have only risen since that 2019 assessment, as government targets have been put in place aiming to bring carbon levels down significantly. From maintaining off-shore wind turbines to installing solar panels and heat pumps, the rapidly growing green sector is dependent on engineers.
The UK has embarked on a series of major infrastructure projects in recent years from drilling new CrossRail tunnels under London for the Elizabeth Line to constructing a new nuclear Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset, and with each new project demand for highly-skilled engineers by large construction firms has soared.
Meanwhile, almost a fifth of the UK’s six millions SMEs are in the construction industry, and for those who prefer smaller engineering jobs, there is never a shortage of demand in the trades. Electricians, plumbers, and carpenters at smaller firms will often have greater flexibility in terms of hours and tools they use in comparison to the larger corporations, with investing in high quality Milwaukee tools a popular choice amongst those in the industry.
The petrol engine is on the way out, and car manufacturers are developing new technologies faster than ever before as they try to create automobiles that go further, charge faster, and are more fun to drive than their competitors – all of which need engineers. Meanwhile, electric trains, trams and electric buses are the future of public transport and impressive strides are being made towards electric aeroplanes.