Job market looks up; graphene still flat

News editor

We round up this week’s encouraging news for recruitment in several of the UK’s major engineering sectors, and top it off with a peek into the future of research into one of the most intriguing and promising materials currently under investigation

This week’s Briefing takes on a slightly different tone, given the good news about new jobs being generated in the UK’s automotive and oil and gas industries.

For example, Jaguar Land Rover has crowned a record year with the announcement that it is to create 800 jobs at its Solihull plant in the West Midlands.

The announcement was made yesterday on the eve of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, with JLR attributing its success to new model introductions and update programmes.

The company says that in 2012 it sold 357,773 vehicles globally, an increase of 30 per cent across 177 markets. Sales in China rose more than 70 per cent, making the nation JLR’s largest market. This is followed by the UK with sales of 68,333 vehicles, up 19 per cent; USA (55,675, up 11 per cent); Russia (20,549, up 43 per cent); and Germany (16,722 up 41 per cent).

Over 200 of the new roles at Solihull are supported by the UK Government’s Regional Growth Fund and forms part of a £370m investment programme at the site, which includes the installation of a new aluminium body shop for the all-new Range Rover Evoque, plus upgrades to paint-applications technologies, trim assembly, warehousing and Jaguar Land Rover’s first customer handover centre.

Details of the new roles along with other current vacancies at Jaguar Land Rover can be found here. In November 2012 The Engineer published an appraisal of recruitment in the UK’s automotive sector, which can be found here.

Britain’s oil and gas industry has received a boost also with a report today that suggests 40,000 to 50,000 new jobs could be created in the industry this year.

Speaking to energy sector recruitment firm Oilandgaspeople.com, the BBC reports that this surge is the result of October 2012’s 27th licensing round, which saw the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) award 167 new licences on 330 North Sea blocks. A further 61 blocks are under environmental assessment.

Back in October energy minister John Hayes said, ‘It [oil and gas] is the single largest industrial UK investor, supporting 440,000 jobs, and benefits the UK’s trade balance to the tune of £40bn.

‘This successful licensing round shows we are taking the right action to offer certainty and confidence to investors. Our fiscal regime is now encouraging small fields into production and our licensing regime supports new faces as well the big players to invest. Importantly, we are guaranteeing every last economic drop of oil and gas is produced for the benefit of the UK.’

One such investor is Statoil, which in December 2012 said it is investing over $7bn in the development of the Mariner oil field in the North Sea. According to Statoil, the investment makes Mariner the largest new offshore development in the UK in more than a decade and will lead to the creation of 700 long-term full-time positions, with 200 of those based onshore.

A familiar note of caution, however, was sounded in the BBC report, which cited Oilandgaspeople.com warning of continuing skills shortages and a rise in the need for staff with the right qualifications and experience.

On a similar note, NES Global Talent today warned that the worldwide demand for suitably experienced and qualified staff will intensify in 2013 as more projects are approved.

Brazil and Iraq are likely to remain pivotal for exploration with production activity in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Middle East experiencing a surge in oil and gas jobs.

In a statement, Simon Coton, managing director at NES Global Talent said existing and planned oil and gas projects will have to compete for talent with other sectors.

‘Building or rebuilding the infrastructure required in many emerging countries to meet economic growth targets will take a massive share of the world’s graduating civil, electrical and mechanical engineers for years to come,’ he said.

/f/t/t/TE_NGI_200.jpg

Finally, graphene represents a technology that the UK is well-positioned to exploit and today Manchester University unveiled a glimpse of its National Graphene Institute (NGI).

Prof Andre Geim and Prof Kostya Novoselov isolated graphene for first time in 2004 and it has since been heralded as the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material.

The new £61m facility is expected to allow researchers and industry to work together on potential applications for the material.

The University expects NGI to create an initial 100 jobs ‘with the long-term expectation of many thousands more in the North West and more widely in the UK.’

The 7,600 square metre building is expected to be completed in early 2015.