Survey identifies the future manufacturing engineer

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A flair for creativity and design aligned with skills in automation, robotics and mechatronics are key attributes for new and emerging roles in manufacturing.

future manufacturing engineer
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This is the claim of Future Manufacturing Engineer, a new study conducted jointly by the IET and IMechE that highlights skills requirements over the next decade and informs the shape of vocational training needed for engineers at all levels.

According to the survey, skills in automation, robotics and mechatronics are thought to be the most important for manufacturing engineers (84 per cent) in the next ten years. These skills were followed by artificial intelligence (69 per cent) and sustainable, lean, resource efficient, manufacturing (65 per cent), but less than a third (32 per cent) feel major change will occur in the next five years.


Communication skills, creativity and design thinking were ranked as the top three non-engineering competencies of ‘highest importance’ for future manufacturing engineers. Energy, transport, and the circular economy were perceived as the top three challenge areas where manufacturing engineers can make the most significant contribution.

In a statement, IET president, Professor Danielle George, said: “We wanted to find out what the future manufacturing engineer might possibly look like and what key skills engineers will need to survive and thrive.

“The topics in the survey questionnaire focused on how manufacturing engineering roles may change in the future, which competencies will be most important, and where manufacturing engineers can make the most significant contribution to finding answers to some of humanity’s greatest global challenges.”

“The results confirm that we need to prepare for the rapid changes and major programmes of investment that will affect manufacturing industry,” said IMechE President, Peter Flinn. “Organisations that educate and employ engineers and technicians must ensure that their current and future workforces keep pace with these developments.

The report details recommendations for recruitment, education and other relevant professional engineering institutions which include investing in people to realise their ideas, agility and contributions, collaborating widely with others, particularly non-engineers, to detect oncoming change and to support the UK sector embracing and exchanging ideas with others globally to ensure productive manufacturing for all.