As one of the biggest contributors towards the UK economy, it is important that the engineering and manufacturing sector prepares a solid foundation for its future workforce. In 2014, the industry contributed an estimated £455.6 billion to the Gross Domestic Product. This accounted for 27% of the total UK GDP. On top of that, the sector also holds around 5.7 million jobs in the UK, which is 19% of employment for the whole of the UK.
It’s important then that the younger generation views the engineering and manufacturing sector positively as a possible career path. This is already improving of late, as in 2016, 51% of 11-16-year olds said they see engineering as a potential career choice. Back in 2012, this statistic sat at only 41%. It’s possible that the shift in viewpoint has been caused by parent and teacher encouragement – 96% of teachers said they would encourage a career in engineering for their students, and 75% of parents viewed such a career choice positively.
As a company who has launched their own education programme in manufacturing and engineering, Omega Plastics, specialists in plastic injection moulding, explore the various routes available to the younger generation of engineering and manufacturing workers.
Sadly, there has been a fall in the number of graduates within the industry. 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 has been an increase of nearly 5% in the number of applicants for engineering courses in the past year, with all sub-disciplines seeing growth apart from electrical and electronic. This is higher than the 2.7% growth experienced by other subjects. Likewise, 71% of those applicants entering a first degree in engineering and technology are from UK origin.
In addition, many graduates secure a job within the sector after completing their degree. 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 engineering and manufacturing industry saw 74,000 apprenticeships start in 2016/17, which included them in the top five most popular choices for apprenticeships. In fact, they have remained in the fourth position since 2010.
Sadly, nearly a third of UK apprentices don’t finish their programmes. 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 engineering apprenticeships were gained in England during 2014/15, and 42% were achieved 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 manufacturing and engineering apprentices in the next year.
It is expected that the demand for skilled workers in the engineering and manufacturing sector will continue to rise, as the UK is home to 650,000 engineering enterprises. 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.