Keith Lewis, Managing Director of leading engineering recruitment agency Matchtech looks at how the perception of engineering could be improved
A recent online poll by The Engineer found that more than half of respondents felt that the lack of people entering engineering was due to its perceived low status. This finding understandably prompts a range of reactions from the engineering community, some of whom voted in the poll, who seek to provide a rationale for the industry’s lack of appeal. Whether it is attributed to salary, career progression or a general image problem, it is clear that the poor perception of engineering is something that the majority agree on.
What I want to consider is what gives engineering the edge. I want to focus on the attractive aspects of a career in engineering that make the engineering community proud and can help inspire young people. Here are just a few.
Being part of an industry which makes such a difference to the nation’s productivity is something to be proud of
Engineering is everything
What other industry can boast a value of £455.6 billion added to the UK economy? This impressive figure comes from EngineeringUK’s 2016 State of Engineering report, which highlights the positive contribution which the industry makes to the economy. Not only does the industry bring financial benefit but it also contributes to research and development to keep the UK competitive internationally and has a knock on effect on job generation – for every job created in engineering, two more are created in the wider market.
Whatever your take on the status of engineering, being part of an industry which makes such a difference to the nation’s productivity is something to be proud of.
Throughout history, engineers have lead the way in innovation, designing and building magnificent inventions and structures which have pushed the boundaries; many of these creations have stood the test of time. This spirit of innovation continues today with advances in autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, space exploration and many other areas.
As an engineer, your work can change people’s daily lives for years to come
Engineering can change the world for good – making things more efficient, discovering more about the world and even saving lives. As an engineer, your work can change people’s daily lives for years to come.
For many reasons, the skills of engineers are in demand. Even in the unlikely event of the skills gap closing in the future, engineering is a profession that will always be required. For those already working in engineering, you can take satisfaction from knowing that your skillset is desirable. You can further enhance your employability and progress your development by becoming a member of a professional body; this is definitely something the companies we work with look for when recruiting.
Engineering is an evolving industry which is starting to realise the benefit of utilising the skills of engineers working across sectors. Anyone considering entering the industry can look forward to a long and varied career especially if they are willing to transfer their skills between different sectors.According to figures published in EngineeringUK’s 2016 State of Engineering report, they can also look forward to an impressive starting salary; the latest figures show that the average for a graduate engineer’s first role is £27, 079 – the second highest starting salary of all subjects. Of course salaries are influenced by a range of factors but this benchmark figure should surely raise the status of engineering amongst students.
Of course each industry faces its own challenges, some of which are short-term problems and some which are longer lasting. Engineering has a long way to go before the equilibrium of supply and demand is restored and the skills shortage is quashed. In the meantime, shifting the perceptions of the industry starts with the engineering community. If the profile of engineering is to be raised, we need people working within the industry to be advocates for engineering and promote the positives of the job.
Keith Lewis, Chief Operating Officer of Matchtech Group Plc and Managing Director of engineering recruitment specialist Matchtech.