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Is the UK prepared for the increase in engineering vacancies?

Paystream News

Kerry Hull

Friday 17th Oct, 2014

Vacancies in the UK's engineering sector have been on the rise this year, but how prepared is the country to fill these roles?

We've taken a look at the statistics, how likely it is that engineering recruitment targets will be met and what can be done to attract more people to the industry.

The figures

Recruitment software provider Recruitive carried out an analysis into engineering vacancies earlier this year, finding that between June and July, the number of advertised jobs in the sector increased by 37 per cent, indicating record monthly growth for the year so far.

On average, each position was advertised on ten different websites, in comparison to the four places retail jobs were posted in.

This indicates that as long as limited company contractors and other individuals specialising in the sector are looking in the right place, they could benefit from this work.

Managing director of Recruitive Richard Clarke commented: "Our figures back the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), which, at the end of July, reported that the demand remains high and that 51 per cent of employers said they were recruiting staff this year.

The IET's Annual Report for 2014 also showed that more and more employers are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit the engineers they need.

This is also reflected in our data, which shows that our clients are having to advertise their engineering vacancies on many different job board websites in order to find the standard of recruit they are looking to hire."

Statistics from industry analyst Markit show that the number of vacancies in the field is continuing to rise, with an increase in advertised manufacturing jobs during September too.

What does the engineering sector need?

Many roles fall under the scope of engineering, including manufacturing jobs, electronics, aerospace, robotics, oil and gas, nuclear, pharmaceutical and even space-based positions.

However, it is estimated that over the coming few years, an additional 1.86 million vacancies will open up within the industry, indicating that more skilled contractors and other workers will be needed to fill these roles as the UK's economy continues to recover.

This could be an issue if more women and young people are not attracted to the industry, as there is already something of a skills shortage within the sector.

Marketing the industry at women

Currently, the majority of people entering engineering roles are males, with figures from the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) showing that only 14 per cent of graduates in the subject between 2012 and 2013 were female.

This percentage has been steadily decreasing over the past few years - it stood at 15.7 per cent in 2002 and 14.6 per cent two years ago.

Chartered engineer and manager of the NCUB Olivia Jones believes one of the reasons girls are not considering such roles is because of disastrous attempts to market the industry to their gender.

She cited examples of prospectuses using the colour pink or discussing the science of lipstick in a misguided attempt to attract more females to the role.

Ms Jones stated that this issue can be resolved, explaining: "Young women don't have an innate dislike for engineering because when you emphasise the creative, people-based, problem-solving and environmental aspects of engineering, they start to see the appeal."

She added the wrong approach to take is to "dress it in pastels and pretend it doesn't involve maths", but rather to "talk to girls about engineering honestly and in a way that conveys how relevant and exciting it actually is".

A recent report from the Institute of Public Policy and Research also highlighted this issue, suggesting that more needs to be done to make sure girls are opting to take A levels that will allow them to study engineering further down the line, as this is often where the problems arise.

It is not just more women that are needed in the industry though, as young people in general are needed to ensure that the sector is nurturing fresh talent. This is particularly important in light of reports that show a large proportion of the UK's engineers are close to retirement age, meaning the number of vacancies in the field is only likely to increase further.

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