It’s increasingly hard in this rapidly transforming world to be optimistic and certain about the future of jobs. By looking into industries that are set to be prosperous and exciting, you can be more confident about your future career.
In the UK, one of these industries is engineering. It’s been a vital part of human history, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. With advancements in AI, infrastructure, transport, trade and recreation, the future of jobs in engineering is looking bright.
A growing industry
While engineering has always been a staple industry within the UK, it is now growing at unprecedented speeds. Split into Manufacturing, information/communication, and construction, engineering takes up 19% of the UK workforce. That means that 124,000 new workers with core engineering skills are required every year. However, there is an average shortfall of 59,000, making engineering one of the most in-demand jobs on the market.
These statistics undoubtedly show that engineering is large and growing, but they don’t show what a future job in engineering will actually look like. There are many different sectors to explore within the engineering industry that can offer a variety of different types of jobs.
Possibly the most exciting development in engineering will be artificial intelligence. Some reports say 20% of jobs are forecast to be replaced by robots by 2030, and while there’s a fear that engineering roles will be replaced by AI, it’s could actually open up more opportunities for jobs, particularly in engineering.
- Most industry experts agree that AI cannot replace the creativity and problem-solving skills that engineering requires.
- AI will aid future engineering jobs rather pushing them into redundancy.
These two points mean that AI will not be able to conceive concepts in the way that humans do. For example, AI can't create the concept and structure of a bridge for a civil engineer, but it will be able to collect data that can optimize the engineer's ability to choose the location for the bridge.
The future of engineering jobs with AI will result in increasing opportunities for engineers to program and construct AI, as well as smaller roles within other engineering jobs, such as collecting data, to enhance and improve engineering.
It’s no secret that climate change is one of the most important and threatening challenges of the future. As it's such a pressing matter, a lot of future engineering jobs will be on tackling climate change, and so it’s important to consider when thinking about what engineering will look like in the next few decades. Engineers will have to find solutions to questions such as:
- How to provide water security for a growing population
- How to reduce carbon emissions
- How to produce large amounts of sustainable food
The role environmental engineers play will grow, but climate change will also affect other types of engineering.
Construction engineers will need to adapt buildings to be able to face more frequent natural disasters, agricultural engineers will need to find more space efficient solutions to farming, and manufacturing engineers will need to find ways to become more resource-efficient.
The most common theme in the effects of climate change in engineering is an emphasis on sustainability, engineers will need to be more considerate of resources, as well as to create solutions to solve the issue of climate change as a whole.
All facets of engineering will be on the forefront of tackling climate change, so if this is something that interests and concerns you, pursuing a future job as an engineer is a perfect path to go down.
Brexit is one of the big foreseeable changes for the UK in the years to come and will affect engineering in several ways.
- Ending free movement within the EU will make the skills shortage more severe.
- The skills shortage could make it easier for UK engineers to compete, but could also make the sector weaker.
- Leaving the EU will mean that working in Europe as an engineer will become less likely, however, the UK sector is high quality, meaning there is still a high chance of working abroad.
There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the results of Brexit impacting the engineering sector, and although this may be discouraging, there is generally more reason to be optimistic about future jobs in engineering than pessimistic.
- The average salary for an engineer in the UK in 2018 was £47,900
- Starting salaries begin at £27,000
- Senior engineers can expect a salary of up to £110,000 a year.
Keep in mind that engineering is a very broad field and that these salaries are the average of all sectors. The highest paying fields are petroleum and nuclear/renewable energy. The lowest are Academia and Telecoms & Utilities.
Despite this, the average salary for an engineer is well above the national average, and since the demand for qualified engineers is still high and continuing to grow, it is likely to stay this way.
With bright prospects for the future of engineering, but lack of skilled workers, special emphasis is now being placed on engineering education:
- 74,000 apprenticeships involving engineering sprang up in 2016 and 2017.
- The Government has promised to improve the quality of STEM education in schools.
- The Government passed the higher education and research act in 2017 which in part aims to improve the UK’s research and innovation sector.
Due to the shortage of skills, and the extreme demand for engineers, there will be no shortage of routes to a career for aspiring engineers. Despite this encouragement, there are still problems. Over a five year period looking at GCSEs, entries into STEM subjects have declined significantly. This shows declining interest in the field, however, it is no reason to be discouraged from pursuing it.
The shortage of skills poses a serious challenge to education in engineering, however, it also provides an incentive for the Government to provide education opportunities, meaning that going forward into the future, it won’t be difficult to find engineering jobs, but it will be a battle for UK companies to stay competitive in the global market.
Your future in engineering
For you, the student, knowing what the growing sectors are is important. Engineering is expanding in the UK, and it is increasingly exciting and relevant in today’s world. The recent shortage of skill, together with the lack of interest in engineering is concerning but can be solved.
There will be lots of future jobs in engineering, and they’ll be at the forefront of the future. If you’re a young person unsure of where to go, considering a future job in engineering is wise, it’s one of the fastest-growing sectors in the UK, it’s well paid, and it offers an exciting and relevant career.
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