Education for a career in engineering and manufacturing

The UK’s engineering and manufacturing industry is one of the largest economic sectors, contributing an estimated £455.6 billion to the Gross Domestic Product in 2014. On top of this, an estimated 5.7 million jobs in the UK are within the engineering and manufacturing sector.

Clearly, it is an important pillar to the UK’s economy, but for the industry to thrive in future, the future generation of employees must be considered. It is vital that the younger generation views the industry as a worthwhile pursuit in their career options. Happily, it seems this is already happening.

Over half of 11-16 year olds in 2016 said they would consider engineering as a possible career choice. This is an increase from 41% in 2012. Perhaps the catalyst for this, it was found that three quarters of parents deem engineering as a positive choice of career. Plus, 96% of teachers said they would recommend engineering as a potential career choice to their pupils.

Various engineering and manufacturing companies are looking to encourage this by launching their own educational programmes – one such company, rapid tooling company Omega Plastics, has also created this article exploring the various paths the younger generation has available to them to gain a career in engineering.

Engineering apprentices

In 2016-2017, the engineering and manufacturing sector became one of the top five most popular choices for apprentices, with around 74,000 apprenticeships starting for the sector that year. In fact, they have remained in the fourth position since 2010.

But although the sector enjoys a positive start, the amount of apprentices completing their programmes only stands at around two-thirds. Overall success rate for apprenticeships has taken a decline to around 68.9% when compared to 2010 when it was at 76.4%. So, what do the figures look like for engineering and manufacturing? Is the decline apparent here too?

58,000 apprenticeships in engineering were completed in England in 2014-2015, with 42% of them gaining Level 3 or above. However, despite no official figures, we can assume that the 2016/17 success rate figures for engineering apprenticeships has continued to rise now that there are over a quarter of a million workplaces offering apprenticeship programmes, a 50% increase over the past five years. Furthermore, four out of five manufacturing employers are reported to be planning to recruit manufacturing and engineering apprentices in the next year.

University and higher education

The engineering sector is currently struggling with a low number of graduates. The future forecast predicts that we will need 265,000 skilled entrants per year to meet the demand for engineering enterprises until 2024. However, currently, we are experiencing a shortage of 20,000 graduates.

But there is already signs of change, as in the last 12 months engineering courses have enjoyed a nearly 5% increase in the number of applicants, where other courses saw only 2.7% growth. Likewise, 71% of those applicants entering a first degree in engineering and technology are from UK origin.

Furthermore, engineering students are succeeding after their degree to land jobs in their sector. 68% of UK first degree engineering graduates are in full-time work six months after graduation and 84% are in full-time work three years after graduation, with only 2% unemployed.

With the engineering and manufacturing industry in the UK only set to continue to grow, the need for skilled candidates is likely to remain strong, possible even rising. Improving the perception of the industry is vital to the continuous success of the industry, as well as appropriate training. However, if the figures discussed here are anything to judge by, the engineering and manufacturing sectors don’t have much to worry about in this department.



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Ive been blogging now for 5 years on various sites for the love of knowledge share. I decided to start my own blog a few years back to share everything from tech to business news. Follow me on twitter for more.