It’s no secret how much engineering is worth to the UK economy. Estimates are that engineering makes up almost a quarter of UK turnover. As a percentage of UK GDP engineering grew steadily through the global financial crisis. It is clear that the UK is still an engineering powerhouse with world renowned expertise, projects and businesses.
- UK has 17% of the Global Share of Aerospace revenue
- £30.7 billion in automotive exports
- UK Engineering sector employs 5.5 million people
- Bioscience and Renewable Energy sectors on the cutting edge
To keep the UK at the forefront of engineering globally we need to have between 150,000-200,000 people entering the Engineering sector. Unfortunately we’re currently falling far short of this target. This shortfall is expected to cost the UK and UK industries upwards of £25 billion per year going forward. What is causing this shortfall is an area of hot debate both within the education sector and within the engineering sector. What seems obvious is that despite the multitude of draws of a career in engineering youngsters just aren’t being enthused. This fact needs to be addressed to secure the future of the British industry.
Targeting children earlier should be one part of the strategy to getting more of them into engineering roles. Showcasing the marvels that British industry creates is a great way to get children excited about engineering. Too often projects such as Bloodhound, Skylon and the various University built eco-race-machines are sold to children from the ‘science’ perspective rather than the engineering perspective. By leveraging these cutting edge projects that hold a level of genuine interest even to those with no other interest in science or engineering we can help to enthuse young minds and plant the seeds for people entering the job market in 10 years time.
An average starting salary ranging between £24,000-£29,000 depending on specialisation is an attractive prospect that draws students to study to degree level. Many employers find their Graduate Schemes a drain on resources with graduates having to be intensively trained once they move into the work place. With relatively high wages and excellent chances for industry progression Engineering Degrees are seeing an upturn in those choosing to study them.
The biggest problem facing the UK engineering sector at the moment is a manufacturing shortfall. People who are interested in engineering are pushed to University rather than taking more appropriate apprenticeships. There has long been a level of snobbery around not having a degree in degree heavy fields. Apprenticeships have always been a vital part of British industry and more needs to be made of them in 2015 and going forward.
Apprenticeships can offer great value to both employer and employee. Unfortunately many students with degree aspirations look down on this path into engineering. Revitalising engineering apprenticeship schemes could go a long way to addressing the predicted skills shortfall. Diversity in the work place in terms of those holding a degree and those with more practical experience is good for single businesses and the industry as a whole.