Are you wavering between studying engineering or a science subject at university? Or maybe you’ve embarked on an engineering degree, but think you might be better off moving into another STEM career when you graduate?
If you have even the slightest interest in any of the engineering disciplines, then let us convince you – there has never been a better time to become an engineer.
Engineering is one of the UK’s most vital industries. According to EngineeringUK, the profession contributed more than £455bn to UK GDP last year – that’s 27% of overall GDP. The industry needs 265,000 new graduates to enter the profession each year to meet demand – but there is a predicted annual shortfall of 20,000. And the fact that the industry has historically depended on attracting talent from the EU and abroad means that with Brexit, there will be an even greater need for UK engineering graduates.
So, the demand for engineers is there. But what will you find in a career in engineering?
Tackling the world’s greatest challenges
The great demand for engineers comes at an exciting time for the construction industry. World population is rising and set to hit 9.7bn by 2050. Most of this population growth will be seen in the developing world where infrastructure needs are greatest, with some reports estimating that 75% of the infrastructure needed by 2050 has not even been built yet. And the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals – 17 wide-ranging social development goals on areas as diverse as health, education, energy and sanitation – sets high standards for the infrastructure that needs to be developed.
Climate change is another challenge that puts pressure on our asset base. The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change sets ambitious targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and engineers will play a crucial role in making infrastructure less carbon intensive.
And engineering itself is going through major changes, as it adapts to the digital revolution. The increasing use of data analytics and software solutions to complement or even replace physical solutions means the diversity of skills needed within the profession is growing, drawing in people from different walks of life. This also throws up new challenges such as cybersecurity, especially where delivery of essential services to customers hangs in the balance.
In short, it’s an exciting time to join the profession, and the fact that UK engineers are so highly respected around the world means that our industry will play a huge part in supporting the hard and soft infrastructure that is developed over the coming years.
Great pay, great prospects
Employment prospects for engineering graduates are very positive compared to most other disciplines. According to EngineeringUK, 68% of engineering and technology graduates are in full-time work six months after graduation, compared to the overall average of 58%. And three years after graduation, this rises to 84%, with just 2% unemployed. There is more good news on earnings – while the average starting salary for graduates was £22,000 in 2014/15, engineering graduates received starting salaries averaging at £26,000. Those working across STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) jobs also enjoy higher wages on average that those in most other professions.
Never the same day twice
Ask any practising engineer what they love most about their job, and many will highlight the fact that no two days are the same. It’s not just because projects can be so diverse, its also the fact that your role can change from project-to-project, especially as you move ahead in your career. And the international nature of the profession, with delivery teams often working in different locations, means there’s lots of opportunity to work overseas too.
There is also great diversity within the industry, with the catch-all term ‘engineering’ serving to cover a huge range of roles and subjects. Civil, mechanical, aeronautical, biomedical, electrical and computer engineering are just some of the vastly different disciplines out there. And engineers are playing a crucial role in the technology sector too, helping to design, develop and test many of the products and appliances we take for granted. There really is something to interest everyone.
Making strides in diversity
Although the industry has been historically dominated by white male employees, the fact that it depends on talent from the EU or overseas to fill the skills gap means that most engineering companies are more diverse than many would think. And recent years have seen the profession take diversity much more seriously, with many companies making an effort to attract more women engineers and those of minority backgrounds, while investing to make workplaces more inclusive to avoid losing talent to other industries. The fact that this has bottom line benefits – with diverse teams shown to be more creative and effective – means the industry will continue to move in the right direction.
Interested? Visit our jobs site, EqualEngineersJobs to see the latest openings in the industry. EqualEngineers is proud to be an official partner of The Year of Engineering, a campaign led by the UK government to showcase the inspiring opportunities available in the industry during 2018.