A lot of people will have heard of the engineering sector, but not necessarily know what it is. There are so many different types of engineering, from aerospace to software, and we’re here to demystify them all.
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What is the Engineering sector?
First things first, let’s create a brief overview of the Engineering sector as a whole. The Engineering industry offers a broad choice of career options, as well as training and support throughout. Whether this be working towards becoming a Chartered Engineer (CEng) or Incorporated Engineer (IEng), progression in the sector is highly encouraged and is absolutely key to its continued relevance.
Engineers help create, build and maintain specific structures, whether it be entire cities, transportation, or processes in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and manufacturing industries. As stated, there are numerous different areas of engineering that offer graduates the chance to spread their wings in a hugely broad sector – plus work on anything from design to production.
Job roles in Engineering
So now to the really exciting and interesting bit: the job roles available. There is a huge number of different roles available in the sector, so let’s look at some of the most well-known – but also some of the most intriguing…
There is lots of training to undertake in order to reach the higher levels of engineering, such as becoming a Chartered Engineer (CEng) or Incorporated Engineer (IEng). But to start at the beginning, most university engineering-focused degrees encourage students to do both maths and physics at A Level. Chemistry and Design Technology are also useful choices.
At degree level, it is best to opt for an engineering or technology subject. There are five key engineering specialisms you can opt to choose from: Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Materials and Mechanical. Of course, there is also the option to study straight Engineering with the chance to specialise in final year.
Other degree subjects such as maths, physics or computer science may also offer a route into the engineering sector, but this may require you to do a conversion course before securing a job.
Skills you need
There are a number of desirable skills for engineers to possess from an employer perspective, but also so they can thrive in the industry. These include:
Work experience in the industry is something all students interested in pursuing an Engineering career should consider – however it can be hard to come across. While a number of degree courses will involve a placement or year in industry, securing other forms of experience can be hard – but there are ways…
Internships during the holiday periods are a good option. A number of engineering companies, both big and small (including Rolls Royce, Babcock, BT, Costain, Shell and Siemens, who are all featured on Debut), offer summer internships. Do your research on some top firms to see when applications open; but be quick, these are often competitive!
Small engineering companies may not have official schemes or internships, but may be able to offer shorter work experience stints. Check out your local firms and make some enquiries.
Similarly, both big and small firms may be able to offer insight days or work shadowing. These forms of work experience are great for networking and aren’t too time consuming, so are the perfect way to build up your exposure to the industry.
It is reported that the UK engineering industry is particularly strong in the aerospace, FMCG and pharmaceutical subsections. While the result of Brexit will undoubtedly have an effect on the sector, whether this is positive or negative is yet to be seen; with this in mind is it hard to say what will happen in the industry in the years to come.
What can be said, however, is that in recent years a lack of qualified graduates opting to study Engineering is having an impact – reports of skills gaps and a lack of diversity are affecting the industry; in fact the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) recently reported that 61% of employers in the industry said recruiting staff with the right skills was a barrier to achieving their business objectives over the next three years.
Calls have been made for more businesses to provide work experience opportunities for young people to help them gain the skills they need but also ignite an interest in those who haven’t yet decided on their career path.
For those already invested in pursuing a career in the industry and possess experience, this is positive news as it does mean they are in high demand. In fact, 68% of engineering and technology graduates find themselves in full-time employment only six months after graduating – a whole 10% higher than the average for graduates across all sectors.
Pros and cons
|Progression is highly supported by most employers, so once in the industry you will likely receive a lot of support||It can be a challenge and requires a lot of learning and constant development
|The average starting salary for graduates is slightly above average, at £25,000 compared to £22,000||There are fewer graduates entering the space, which is good for job prospects but is damaging the industry more broadly
|There are multiple exciting projects to get involved in, from building cities to designing planes||The work can be stressful, with many different people - from private clients to the government - and other factors affecting projects from start to finish
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