How many engineers are there in Britain? Building up a picture of the employment market is complex – there is a plethora of organisations with data on their own membership but little attempt to coordinate the information.
Mary Harris, director general of Yes, says: `We understand the difficulty of obtaining these figures from a single source as we ourselves have tried to obtain similar figures. The statistical confusion underlines the need for the Yes campaign whose aim is to communicate the career opportunities available in engineering in a coordinated way to those outside the profession.’
The Engineering Council’s figures seem straightforward. It had 289,000 registrants in 1995-96, made up of 217,000 chartered engineers, 56,000 incorporated, and 16,000 engineering technicians.
But not all engineers are registrants. On the basis of the council’s 1995 survey of professional engineers and technicians, The Engineer asked the nine largest institutions representing 56.8% of survey respondents (excluding building, civil and related engineering institutions) for their UK membership totals.
Although more than 184,000 of the Engineering Council’s 289,000 registrants are members of these nine institutions, the nine have a combined total UK membership of around 284,670.
Obtaining other meaningful figures for the total number of engineers in Britain is more difficult.
The Office of National Statistics shows a total of 626,000 people across a mix of professional, scientific and technical occupations, but there is no category besides the 51,000 technicians, that specifies type of engineer.
The Yes campaign says simply that `engineering employs nearly two million people – half the manufacturing workforce’. This wide definition includes unqualified and production line personnel, plus civil engineers.
Similarly, the EEF said last autumn that 1.785 million people, or 22% of the UK workforce, are employed in the engineering industry.
Graham Mackenzie, director general of the EEF says: `A significant number of technicians are not registered with the Engineering Council or with the institutions, even though they are qualified.’ As a rough rule of thumb Mackenzie suggests that there may be four times as many technicans as chartered and incorporated engineers.
Regions LS WM EM SW WA YH NT NW SC Total
Mechanical 1,323 294 344 338 190 273 184 378 386 3,710Electrical 657 143 175 123 84 170 79 192 172 1,795Electronic 621 115 114 97 62 133 37 133 119 1,431Chemical 143 38 31 36 21 41 20 51 39 420Design & development 710 250 186 227 90 163 92 236 164 2,118Process & production 201 124 92 82 39 58 39 106 97 838Other engineers 1,243 480 451 392 218 336 216 532 518 4,386Technicians 830 189 204 167 85 214 114 301 239 2,343
Regions: LS = London & the South East; WM = West Midlands; EM = East Midlands; SW = South West; WA = Wales; YH = Yorkshire & Humberside; NT = North; NW = North West; SC = Scotland.
Engineers on record at JobCentres in Great Britain as claiming thejobseekers’ allowance on 31 January 1997. The table excludescivil engineers and all engineers in Northern Ireland.