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Education choices for engineering and manufacturing

18th June 2018 Print

With a contribution of an estimated £455.6 billion to the UK Gross Domestic Product in 2014, the engineering and manufacturing sector in the UK is one of the biggest economic sectors here. The industry also contributes to employment rates, with around 5.7 million jobs in the UK within engineering and manufacturing. 

It's important to pave a similarly strong future for the industry by ensuring that the younger generation views engineering positively. Already it seems like the viewpoint for engineering as a career is growing strong within 11-16 year olds. In 2016, 51% of that age group said they would consider a career in engineering, an increase from 41% in 2012. It seems this rise can be attributed to parents and teachers, as 75% of parents and 96% of teachers said they would encourage a career in engineering. 

Having recently launched their own educational programme, rapid tooling specialists Omega Plastics present this article on educational routes available within the industry.

The apprenticeship option

The engineering sector saw a positive increase in apprenticeships in 2016-2017, with around 74,000 apprenticeships initiating. This made engineering and manufacturing one of the top five most popular choices for apprentices. In fact, they have remained in the fourth position since 2010.

This strong start is not reflected in the completion of apprenticeships, however, with almost a third of UK apprentices not completing their programme. Overall success rate for apprenticeships has taken a decline to around 68.9% when compared to 2010 when it was at 76.4%. So, what do the figures look like for engineering and manufacturing? Is the decline apparent here too? 

In 2014-2015, a total of 58,000 engineering apprenticeships were completed in England, with 42% achieving Level 3 or higher. However, despite no official figures, we can assume that the 2016/17 success rate figures for engineering apprenticeships has continued to rise now that there are over a quarter of a million workplaces offering apprenticeship programmes, a 50% increase over the past five years. Furthermore, four out of five manufacturing employers are reported to be planning to recruit manufacturing and engineering apprentices in the next year.

The university option 

In terms of graduates, however, there is a shortage of engineering and manufacturing graduates. The future forecast predicts that we will need 265,000 skilled entrants per year to meet the demand for engineering enterprises until 2024. However, currently, we are experiencing a shortage of 20,000 graduates. 

But this may be set to change, as there has been almost a 5% increase in the number of engineering course applications in the past 12 months. In comparison, other courses only saw a 2.7% growth. Likewise, 71% of those applicants entering a first degree in engineering and technology are from UK origin. 

Also, a notable number of graduates are seeing success upon completion of their degree, with many finding roles within the sector. 68% of UK first degree engineering graduates are in full-time work six months after graduation and 84% are in full-time work three years after graduation, with only 2% unemployed. 

The UK's engineering and manufacturing companies are only set to continue to grow, so the need for skilled candidates will likely grow along with it. Improving the perception of the industry is vital to the continuous success of the industry, as well as appropriate training. However, if the figures discussed here are anything to judge by, the engineering and manufacturing sectors don’t have much to worry about in this department.