Contributing a significantly large sum towards the UK economy, the engineering and manufacturing sectors rely on their skilled employees to continue their hard work. In 2014 alone, the engineering sectors contributed an estimated £455.6 billion to Gross Domestic Product – 27% of the total UK GDP. They are also responsible for an estimated 5.7 million jobs in the UK – 19% of the total UK employment.

To ensure the industry remains successful, and has enough workers to fulfil demand, it is vital to improve the attitudes of younger generations to encourage them to pursue a career in the industry. Thankfully, young people’s perceptions have become more positive over recent years.

Just over half of 11-16 year olds in 2016 were considering a career in engineering – a significant increase to 51% compared to 41% in 2012. This shift towards a more positive perception of the industry could be thanks to the influence of parents and teachers at school. 96% of teachers would recommend a career in engineering to their pupils, and three quarters of parents view engineering positively as a career.

Here, specialists in rapid tooling, Omega Plastics, who have just launched their own education programme in manufacturing and engineering, investigate further what education is available for careers within the industry.

The rise of apprenticeships

The engineering and manufacturing industries are within the top five industries for apprenticeship starts – a position they continued to secure in 2016/17 after 74,000 apprentices signed up for programmes within the sectors. In fact, they have remained in the fourth position since 2010.

However, completion figures don’t look as promising, as it is revealed that almost a third of apprentices in the UK fail to make it to the end of their apprenticeship and complete the programme. 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?

41% of engineering apprenticeships complete in 2014/15 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.

Higher education

There appears to be a shortage of engineering graduates at the minute, as forecasts predict that the industry 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.

There is, however, nearly a 5% growth in the number of applicants to engineering courses over the past year, greater than the 2.7% experienced across all subjects, with gains in all its sub-disciplines except electrical and electronic. Likewise, 71% of those applicants entering a first degree in engineering and technology are from UK origin.

Positively, the employment rate looks promising too, with a significant number of graduates securing a role in the industry after completely 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 expected to continue in the UK with 650,000 engineering enterprises operating across the nation and that figure is still 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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