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Encouraging careers in engineering and manufacturing

ByDave Stopher

Jun 22, 2018

Engineering and manufacturing contributes a huge sum towards the UK economy. It is one of the largest economic sectors, contributing an estimated £455.6 billion to the Gross Domestic Product in 2014. Plus, an estimated 5.7 million jobs in the UK are in the engineering and manufacturing industry.

The ongoing success of the industry relies upon the younger generation viewing the sector in a positive light.

Over the last few years, students and prospective apprentices are showing more interest and respect a career in engineering and manufacturing. In 2016, over half of 11-16 year olds said they would consider a career in the industry, and increase on 41% in 2012. It is likely that this shift in attitude is down to parental encouragement and teachers’ guidance. 96% of teachers said they would recommend a career in engineering, and 75% of parents view engineering as a worthwhile endeavour.

In this article, injection moulding experts Omega Plastics, explore how further education routes can encourage the younger generation to the industry.

Engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships

Engineering and manufacturing saw around 74,000 apprenticeships beginning in 2016-2017, making them one of the top five most popular apprenticeship choices. In fact, they have remained in the fourth position since 2010.

However, data shows that almost a third of UK apprentices do not go on to finish their apprenticeship. 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?

In 2014-2015, 58,000 English engineering apprenticeships were achieved, with 42% of those being 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.

Higher education for engineering and manufacturing

The sector has, however, felt a significant drop in the number of graduates for 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 is some good news for higher education: in the past year, the number of applicants for engineering courses increased by nearly 5%. For all other courses, the increase was around 2.7%. Likewise, 71% of those applicants entering a first degree in engineering and technology are from UK origin.

Not only that, but a significant number of graduates are finding a job in their chosen 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 demand for skilled candidates is not likely to diminish, as the UK engineering and manufacturing sectors continue to 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.