Report shows growing demand for engineers, and ‘green engineering’

Article by Amanda Jasi

AS THE UK ramps up its net zero efforts, a report commissioned by EngineeringUK finds that demand for engineers is predicted to grow faster than for other occupations, and vacancies for “green engineering” jobs in the country have increased by 55% over the last 5 years.

The findings suggest that the engineering footprint is growing its number of green jobs, while traditional engineering jobs are becoming greener.

Produced by Lightcast, a labour market analytics firm, the report says that in 2021 there were just under 6.1m engineering jobs across all industries, including technology roles. This represented about 19% of all jobs in the UK. The firm projects that over the rest of the decade, engineering jobs will increase to reach almost 6.26m. An additional 173,000 engineering and technology roles are expected, representing an increase of about 2.8% from 2021, compared to 2.3% for all occupations.

The report also shows that over the past year engineering roles have accounted for 25% of all UK job postings. Lightcast says that this suggests a skills shortage in engineering greater than in other areas, or that employers are hiring for future growth, or a combination of both.

Growing demand for engineers is also reflected in salaries, with the average advertised wage for engineering being £38,600 (US$48,183), almost 30% higher than the average for all occupations (£30,000).

Becoming more green

The 55% increase in green jobs (to more than 23,000) is shown by increased listing of green job titles such as renewable energy engineer or specialist, sustainability manager or advisor, climate change specialist, and carbon analyst. These are among the fastest growing titles over the past five years.

The report also shows increasing demand for green skills, such as environment health and safety, water treatment, and environmental laws – which are among the top demanded green skills across the engineering footprint. The report finds that over the past five years, job advertisements mentioning a green skill increased by 48% to 212,000.

In a discussion paper published to accompany the report EngineeringUK says that green roles appear across a wide range of engineering sectors, from civil and electrical through to ICT and software, adding that this shows that application of these skills is “far-reaching and important to the economy at large”.

Hilary Leevers, chief executive of EngineeringUK, said: “Given the soaring demand for engineers across all sectors, it’s essential that the UK has a robust plan and funding in place to train the future workforce, bringing more young people from all backgrounds into engineering and technology, alongside reskilling the current workforce.”

“With the growth in green skills, and the central role engineers and technicians play in transitioning to a green economy and addressing climate change, ensuring that the sector has the skilled workforce needed to thrive is more urgent than ever.”

David Bogle, President of IChemE, said: “Chemical engineers are central to the sustainability challenge, holding critical skills to help address the climate emergency. This report highlights the mounting demand for engineers with green skills such as those held by chemical, biochemical and process engineers, and we support EngineeringUK in emphasising the need for the UK to have a robust plan, backed with accessible funding, to attract and train people from all backgrounds into engineering.”

Lightcast’s report also features skills snapshots for 13 thematic groups highlighting the specialist and software skills most sought after by recruiting employers, as well as the top occupations within each group that employers were recruiting between October 2021 and September 2022. The thematic groups include design and development; industrial; environment, energy, and earth; and water, air, and waste. The snapshots can be downloaded separately.

For its analysis, Lightcast developed its own taxonomy of almost 230 green skills and more than 370 green job titles. These skills and titles were selected for their relevance to sustainability, environmental protection, and decarbonisation activities. The firm says in report that this experimental approach was intended to kickstart discussion around the green economy while a common framework to look at green jobs is being developed by the government.

In 2021, the environmental audit committee pointed out that despite its pledges to create green jobs, the UK government had yet to define what a green job is.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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