Poor pay turns graduates away

Graduates are not going into engineering careers because of poor salary prospects, despite more UK companies crying out for their skills.

The majority of people surveyed by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), believed students are not going into the field of engineering because it didn’t pay well as a career. This is despite a recent survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) which suggests that mechanical engineering will be a key area for graduate recruitment in 2005.

The IMechE, the leading global voice for the profession, asked: A leading graduate survey is predicting a hike in the number of vacancies in the mechanical engineering sector in 2005. Why do you think fewer students are accepting it as a career? Results revealed 55.4% said it was down to poor salary, 14.5 % said there were too few career prospects, 13.5 % said engineering was boring in comparison to other careers and 16.6% said it was because engineering degrees (which are often four academic years as opposed to the traditional three) are more costly/longer.

The problem in securing graduate engineers to the profession could worsen next year when the Government plans to increase annual tuition fees to £3,000.

IMechE Technical Director, John Ling, said: “We, as a nation, need to be doing much more to ensure our country is getting the engineers it needs. Increasing tuition fees could cripple students financially and that will do nothing to encourage them to go into engineering.”

The AGR survey showed that the engineering sector would see an increase of 2.5% in salary from 2004, against the national median increase of 4.8%. The report also predicts there will be a 24.2% increase in vacancies in the mechanical engineering sector, the third biggest after logistics and consulting. Other figures show the predicted median graduate starting salary for 2005 is £22,000 but for graduate engineers in 2004, it was £20,000.