The current state of engineering is relevant to everyone, from engineering graduates to directors of UK firms. This is because engineering recruitment impacts not only on the field itself but also on the UK’s overall economic and societal well-being. So what has happened within the sector over the last six months, and what can we expect from the rest of the year ?
Engineering 2017: An Overview
According to research, more than 5.5 million employees in the UK are registered as working in engineering enterprises, making up almost 20% of total UK employment. Though these numbers seem impressive, there’s still lots of work to be done to enhance the industry and maintain its economic and social contributions. For instance, the biggest shortfall of engineering as it stands is its lack of diversity. To create gender equality within the sector, we must start at the beginning. This means focusing on school-age children and encouraging them to consider a career in engineering. 96% of teachers said they would recommend this career path to their pupils, so this could be an indication that more diversity will begin to appear as those currently in education enter the graduate engineering world.
Though the future of engineering recruitment looks promising, we must also remember to think about the here and now and look at the current engineering supply and demand. Research shows that 15 of 32 occupations that are open for skilled immigration to fill UK shortages are in engineering. With a need for over 185,000 people with technical skills annually over the next six years, there is a clear requirement for increasing the supply of skills through the workforce. This is where, once again, education could be a pipeline to increasing that supply.
Who Are We Employing?
It is evident that most engineering companies are relatively small: 80% of engineering enterprises have four or fewer employees. Meanwhile, of the 52% employees in this sector working for a company with 100 or more staff, 42% of those are part of a workforce exceeding 250. The age of workers in engineering jobs looks to be increasing, as the intake of young workers decreased over the course of the last decade.
It is quite astonishing that just one in eight engineering staff are women, and of those, only 10% actually hold an engineering position within their firm. The perception that engineering is a male-dominated sector is therefore only going to change by seeing a significant increase in female workers. We know that the majority of entry candidates have been awarded a chemistry certification, so could young female chemists potentially be a demographic to focus on?
Changing Perceptions with Expectations
Engineering candidates can benefit from a healthy salary range of £26,000 to £45,000, with the graduate-level range being on average £4K more than other professions. Experts feel that more emphasis should be put on encouraging pupils to choose STEM subjects, which help them to set a potential career path towards engineering, and knowing more about what they can expect from the profession might well sway their decision. Meanwhile, existing talent should not be ignored. By increasing skills with training and making engineering recruitment expectations clear, the sector could in turn retain more staff and attract employees from other sectors.