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The Job Market


  • Women remain under-represented in the engineering sector - the UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers in Europe: 9% of UK engineering professionals compared with 18% in Spain and 26% in Sweden, for instance. Only 4% of current engineering apprentices are female.

  • There is also a problem with attracting large numbers of young people into the profession, even though there are excellent chances to progress - this is partly due to fewer people studying maths and physics at a higher level (although numbers have recently risen)

  • The Institution of Engineering and Technology shows that one in every five employers is concerned that they will not be able to find suitable engineering candidates to recruit in the next few years - engineering in the UK is not always seen as being particularly high status, which could be one reason why people are not as attracted to it

  • Overall, salaries in engineering may not seem as high as in some sectors but hour per hour, engineering can pay as well as many other professions - and people with professional engineering qualifications often head up huge companies. Also, well qualified and experienced workers can command high daily salaries, especially in the oil processing sector

  • There are also plenty of opportunities to travel overseas on short or longer term engineering projects

  • Engineering and manufacturing are strongly linked - manufacturing is one of the biggest employers of engineers and, even though it has been in decline for many years, it is still vital to the UK economy.

  • Important manufacturing sectors include aerospace and defence (UK defence exports are worth £4 billion), car production (although the fortunes of car manufacturers vary every few years), pharmaceuticals, and the production of food and drinks, the UK’s largest manufacturing sector.

  • Around half a million people are employed in the food sector. Most companies are small and so unlikely to employ engineers but in the larger ones (such as Allied Bakeries, Tate and Lyle, and Coco-Cola), engineers are needed

  • The recession has affected the manufacturing sector, and numerous major companies have seen job losses in the last few years, including Canadian train manufacturers Bombardier in Derby, pharmaceutical company Pfizer (losing more than 2000 staff) and Britain’s largest manufacturer, and Europe’s largest arms dealer, BAElosing around 9000 jobs at sites across the UK