Over the last few years there have been a number of articles that predict a shortage in the number of engineers in the UK. Speaking in the annual Engineering UK 2014 report, business secretary Vince Cable stated “The UK will need around 87,000 graduate level engineers per year over the next ten years: 2013 was 36,000 short of this”. This forecast is said to result in hindering the recovery and growth of construction, manufacturing and associated industries, as well as the wider UK economy.
Attempting to find a cause, an article written in The Engineer suggests that the shortage is caused by the previous generation of skilled workers gradually retiring, leaving behind a talent vacuum. There has been comment from key figures implying that the solution to this lies in the investment of time and money in the education of key engineering skills at school level.
However, a report for the Royal Academy of Engineering, ‘Thinking like an engineer: Implications for the education system’, states that the problem is not at higher education level but rather at primary and secondary education levels.
The report goes on to suggest that engineers often prescribe to 6 specific ways of thinking, or ‘Engineering Habits of Mind’ (EHoM). In order to stimulate a growth in the number of engineers in the UK, the education system currently in place would need to be revamped in order to encourage, as opposed to stifle, these six key traits.
This way of thinking is by no means exclusive to boys at school either, with the gender weighting of boys and girls achieving a GCSE in physics being almost equal. However the number of girls involved at higher levels waivers to a small 14% of the total first class engineering degrees.
Map of UK Engineering Employers
As a company with our foundations firmly set in the bedrock of construction and engineering, we thought we’d get involved and give students a helping hand. What better way to do so than by showcasing the wide variety of employers and jobs across the UK open to a budding engineer!
You can use the map below to find engineering employers near you…
When applying for positions, particularly if some interviews haven’t gone to plan, it can be hard to know exactly what you are missing. We thought that we would help out by giving a little bit of insider knowledge. We spoke to Hannah Cameron, Director of Cameron Balloons – the world’s largest manufacturer of hot air balloons, giving her opinions on what a company looks for in an applicant;
What qualities do you look for when recruiting engineering roles at Cameron Balloons?
Some of the main qualities that we look for when recruiting is flexibility, reliability, and the ability to exemplify strength in core engineering skills. When working in a small team it is important that the candidate shows to have a real knowledge of a range of engineering skills. Working in a company which is constantly pushing boundaries in what can be achieved requires real teamwork – people in the company have a range of personalities but each bring something to the project which allows Cameron Balloons to realise ambitious customer projects and aviation products.
Are there any qualifications that you like to see in a graduate application?
All our engineers currently employed through Cameron Balloons are of degree level 2:1 and up, though this isn’t a strict requirement. Employees have a range of qualifications from Aero Engineering to Mechanical Engineering. What’s imperative is that anybody looking for a job at Cameron Balloons has the right mix of abilities. Anybody who is being interviewed for a position in the company should also show the all-important can-do attitude, pro-activity and real ‘sparkle’ to make them stand out.
Why kind of career opportunities are available for someone to develop in these roles?
Working within a small company we offer the employees the opportunity to practice and develop a whole range of skills through working with a small team of specialist people. Working for smaller companies can mean that there is constant contact with each department of the process from design to completion. Furthermore the chance is given to travel to different countries for product testing and other work commitments.
Are there any organisations, societies, or resource platforms that you could suggest to get involved with that appeal on applications?
As is normal good practice but so often overlooked, if you want a job in a particular place – read all about the company, make sure you understand what it would be like to be involved there, understand their markets, know their website, check their news, know their competitors, have a few questions to ask your interviewer – in essence – show you care!