The next generation of engineering
The 2018 Engineering UK State of Engineering report states that the engineering industry employs over 5.6 million people in the UK. However, the report also highlights an annual shortfall of up to 59,000 engineering graduates and technicians to fill core engineering roles, which could lead to issues in the future. Here, Vinnie Edge, international operations manager at engineering solutions provider, Boulting Ltd, explores what can be done to secure the future of engineering.
The State of Engineering 2018 report commented that 39% of engineering employers in the UK struggle to find candidates with any workplace experience. The ongoing and increasing skills gap across the industry could lead to this figure increasing over the coming years, particularly in heavy industry sectors, such as mining, steel and chemical.
Throughout the 1990s there was a big focus on emerging IT and dot-com technologies. This resulted in an influx of graduates with skills in these areas, yet it also means that more traditional, heavy industry and blue-chip companies are now struggling to recruit.
To combat this, the government, educators and those across the industry must try to attract new talent into the sector. By promoting and expanding the opportunities for personal development and job satisfaction, students and graduates may be more likely to pursue a career in engineering.
Regardless of whether the skills gap is addressed, meaning employees can recruit more staff to the sector, it is already clear that the future role of the engineer will be significantly different to what it is today.
While the developments in technology will have an impact on the engineering industry, it is inevitable that these changes will also impact the role of the engineer. Engineers will become more interdisciplinary, with skills spanning multiple sectors becoming the expected standard for many employers.
For instance, the rise of remote monitoring and working will mean that engineering teams are able to work closely across multiple nations while having access to an increased level of information and data. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology will also mean that expert teams won’t need to travel to their project site as instructions can be provided to onsite staff with remote support and guidance.
Engineering is a diverse industry that is investing in Industry 4.0 technology to help combat industry challenges. Some of these applications build upon existing consumer technologies, like the introduction of tablets and mobile devices as a method of on-the-go tracking and monitoring is changing the way industry manages its people and facilities.
The apprentice advantage
Despite these advancements in the ease of information gathering, the insight and understanding of data and knowledge sharing opportunities, there is still the issue of attracting new employees to the industry in the first place.
More focus should be given on the value of apprenticeship schemes and the opportunities they provide to both employee and employer. The opportunities to increase the breadth of experience gained in an apprenticeship is only set to grow further as industries like nuclear and renewable energies continue to receive investment.
Driven by desire
Engaging with students at high school and college level, incorporating them into your business through apprenticeships and work placement programmes has the potential to be meaningful.
The time is now to buck the trend of skilled engineer shortfalls and those already in the industry must support and inspire the next generation of engineers to keep the profession alive.
Boulting Ltd has a dedicated apprenticeship, graduate and trainee scheme which provides the opportunity to work alongside experienced engineers to unleash talent in technically stimulating environments across a wide range of engineering services, industries and sectors. To find out more about Boulting’s opportunities visit the website: https://www.boulting.co.uk/careers/apprenticeships-graduates-and-trainees
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