EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, wants to make 2017 the year that parents, teachers and employers help inspire the next generation of UK engineers and manufacturers.
The organisation – chaired by former IChemE president Judith Hackitt – has published a list of ten myths and facts that it hopes will help overturn outdated misconceptions that are feared to be putting off young people from joining professions that offer long-term, dynamic and well-paid careers.
“Our sector has much to offer and by helping young people to understand this we will give them every reason to want to get involved,” says Verity O’Keefe, senior employment and skills policy advisor at EEF.
“Whether you choose to ‘earn and learn’ as an apprentice or join industry as a graduate, the fact is that your choice will be respected and your ability and ambition rewarded. It’s vital we get this message out there so that more young people feel inspired to seize the opportunity to start a great career.”
The EEF’s full list of myths and facts:
1. Manufacturing and engineering are just for boys
Myth: they both provide open and equal opportunities to enjoy an exciting, rewarding and creative long-term career. Companies are actively encouraging more female apprentices and graduates to join and employers are keen to encourage and support women throughout their careers.
2. There will be over 2.5m job openings in engineering companies up to 2022
Fact: these figures from Engineering UK show that engineering companies are continuously looking to recruit. With an ageing workforce it is more important than ever to ensure there is a pipeline of talent coming into the industry.
3. The work is low paid
Myth: engineering graduates now earn over £5,000 (US$6160) or 22% a year more than other UK graduates – a figure that further reinforces engineering’s reputation for being a well-paid career. At the same time an engineer can expect to earn £32,699 a year, while a senior engineer can expect £41, 800. In contrast, national average pay in the UK is £27,607 a year, according to ONS.
For chemical engineering, data from IChemE’s latest salary survey shows the numbers are even higher. UK Chartered Chemical Engineers are being paid a median salary of £46,500 between the ages of 25–29, rising to £85,000 at ages 50–54.
4. Work in manufacturing is manual and repetitive
Myth: with the advent of a new digital industrial era, demand for skilled and highly-skilled workers over the next three years will soar. Firms are on the hunt for people management and leadership skills, production-related technical skills and craft/technician skills. Sales and marketing and IT and software skills are extremely valuable too.
5. Employers have strong recruitment plans
Fact: 66% of manufacturers plan to recruit an engineering graduate in the next three years and 66% plan to recruit an engineering apprentice in the next 12 months.
6. The prospects for graduates aren’t so good as in other sectors
Myth: according to Engineering UK, 66% of engineering and technology graduates were in full-time employment within six months of graduating, compared with 58% of all graduates.
7. Manufacturing doesn’t have a future in the digital age
Myth: manufacturing’s future is the digital age and UK manufacturers are already gearing up to take advantage. New technologies will start to change the way factories look in a relatively short space of time and over 83% of manufacturers say that they will need to invest in staff skills in order to adopt them.
8. Smart kids only go to university
Myth: smart kids can also take an apprenticeship and apprenticeships can also lead to a degree. Young people today have choices and an apprenticeship is just as valid a career pathway as going to university – plus, because you ‘earn and learn’ you can avoid incurring student debt.
9. Raising awareness isn’t important
Myth: 72% of manufacturers say raising awareness of apprenticeships will encourage more young people into manufacturing. 63% say the same of STEM-promoting initiatives between schools and business.
10. Careers advice has a role to play in inspiring young people
Fact: 60% of firms say better-informed careers advice will encourage more young people into engineering.
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