Recruitment in the UK’s engineering industry is less than adequate for the nation’s needs. To prevent the future supply of qualified engineers grinding to a halt, many sectors such as the government, schools and the industry itself, need to instigate a recruitment revolution.
The government has recently released £23 billion to provide manufacturing and construction with assistance to regenerate growth by initiating building schemes across the country. It represents a GDP allocation of up to 1.2% by 2020. It is a significant investment which will directly lead to 150,000 new homes, but the scheme will require a supply of skilled engineers.
A revolution is already occurring in engineering. Digitalisation and robotics have increased the capabilities of manufacturing. Futuristic technology has enabled the industry to expand beyond its traditional confines and now includes roles for computer experts, big data analysts and scientists. The recent introduction of traditional apprenticeships that incorporate technological skills is an innovative response from the industry to create its own supply of engineers.
Analysts have identified a disturbing trend amongst civil engineering graduates where a high proportion of them firmly reject opportunities to work in the sector, preferring instead to take positions in unrelated sectors. Many students initially seek qualifications in engineering only to satisfy parental pressure, while others are lured by the financial incentives of other careers. Such a waste of resources in pointless training is largely responsible for the current skills shortage. Schools could increase the understanding of how diverse and exciting the future of engineering is rapidly becoming. Important initiatives such as investment and aprenticeships have already begun, but the hardest part of the revolution is presenting engineering as an attractive, rewarding career.