The UK economy owes a significant sum of its support to the engineering and manufacturing sector. Contributing £455.6 billion to the Gross Domestic Product in 2014, the sector counted towards 27% of the total UK GDP. The sector has also formed around 5.7 million employment opportunities for the country.
But the continued success of any industry lies on its future workforce. If the sector wishes to remain strong, it must improve its standing as a positive career choice for youngsters. Improvements have, however, already been noted – in 2012, 41% of 11-16-year olds said they would consider a career in engineering, where 51% said as much in 2016. Plus, 75% of parents said they would see a career in engineering as a good choice, and 96% of teachers said they would recommend such a choice to their students.
In this article, low volume injection moulding specialists Omega Plastics, who have launched their own engineering and manufacturing educational programme, explore the matter further in terms of the future of engineering.
Apprenticeships: a solid start
With 74,000 apprenticeships beginning in 2016/17 for engineering and manufacturing, the sectors became part of the top five most popular picks for apprenticeships. In fact, they have remained in the fourth position since 2010.
And yet, despite this positive start, data suggests that almost a third of UK apprentices don’t complete their courses. 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 these industries? Is the decline apparent here too?
In 2014/15, 42% of the 58,000 engineering apprenticeships achieved in England were attained at 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 these apprentices in the next year.
Graduates: a shortage?
In terms of graduates, the engineering and manufacturing industry is experiencing a bit of a shortage. 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.
The sector has, however, enjoyed an application increase of around 5% across all of its sub-discipline, not including electrical and electronic. This is higher than all other subjects, which saw a 2,7% increase. Likewise, 71% of those applicants entering a first degree in these regions are from UK origin.
Upon completion of their degree, many graduates are enjoying job security within the industry. 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.
The UK has 650,000 engineering enterprises, so it is expected that the demand for skilled workers will only grow. 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.