Engineers, IT and tech experts – the most in demand workers in the UK

The engineering, IT and technology sectors are at present the fastest growing sectors in the UK . Because of increased competition, companies in these fields are finding themselves forced to innovate to stay ahead of the game. Consequently many are expanding and having to recruit faster than ever.

This is good news for professionals in these fields, as engineers, IT and tech experts are now the most in demand workers in the UK.

In this article we explore the sudden need for engineers to replace the ageing engineering workforce and investigate how the disruptive tech market is forcing companies in this space to invest in additional specialist tech experts.

 

The engineering industry

Engineering plays an essential role in the UK’s economy, and in 2017 generated around 26% of the country’s GDP. However, despite the industry as a whole booming economically, it is also facing an engineering skills shortage.

In December we wrote an article discussing the current problems associated with the industry’s ageing workforce, where the average engineer in Britain is 54 years old. As a result, with an average national retirement age of 65, 50% of the entire engineering workforce could be set to retire by 2020. As a result the sector is facing a massive skills gap that is needing to be filled urgently.

To make matters worse, on top of this there has been a shortage in engineering graduates over the past 10 to 15 years, meaning companies can’t replace engineers leaving the industry quick enough, widening the gap. According to Engineer UK approximately 182,000 additional engineer graduates are needed per year until 2022.

Sir James Dyson has decided to tackle the skills shortage himself and is launching his own private university, the Dyson Institute of Technology, to ensure he is training up enough graduates to take over jobs at Dyson.

Additionally, not only is there a lack of engineers to fill current vacant roles, there are also many new engineering projects in progress which will create further demand over the next few years.

One area that is notably thriving is infrastructure engineering. British infrastructure projects are estimated to create a demand for 150,000 engineers by 2020 thanks to high-profile projects like HS2 and Hinkley Point C.

The Aerospace industry is also an area of fast growth and is expected to create 100,000 new jobs in the next 15 years.

 

The IT and technology industry

An industry that is growing at an even faster pace than engineering is the IT and technology industry. Since 2011, £28 billion has been invested in this sector and, as a result, the digital economy is growing approximately 32% faster than the economy as a whole.

This influx in investment has enabled a great deal of technological change and advance over the last few years and made the UK the European hub for tech companies. Subsequently companies such as Google and Facebook are now setting up their new headquarters in London.

Furthermore, on average one tech startup is born every hour in Britain, ready to disrupt the market. The nature of the disruptive tech market is pressuring tech businesses to keep innovating to avoid becoming obsolete overnight. For example, the rise of Artificial Intelligence is predicted to completely change the tech industry in the next decade. Other big growth areas are Business Intelligence and Data Science. And to keep up, companies are recruiting more and more tech experts.

It is predicted that there will be a rise in demand for cloud specialists, app developers and algorithm experts. Another prediction is that there will be an increase in demand in cyber security professionals, with the rise of Cyber-crime creating 3,500 additional jobs over the next two years.

All in all, if you are an engineer in IT or tech then this is a great time to be looking for a  new job. Alternatively, if you are looking for career change, looking for jobs in these sectors could be fruitful.

If you need any help and advice regarding moving jobs or changing career paths then contact CK Technical, the UK’s leading technical recruitment company.

Posted in Industry News, News

Regulating innovation: the biggest challenge

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has recently called for “prudent regulation and oversight” to control tech companies and ensure that innovative technology is used in our favour. He criticised the government for being too passive when it came to trying to regulate growth in innovation.

Innovative technologies are increasingly intertwined in every element of our day-to-day lives. They have altered in some way or form the way we work, the way we communicate and the way we interact with objects. According to Sadiq Khan, because of the massive transformative effects they have on us, it is becoming more important than ever to find a way to control their impact on society, and ensure it is a positive one.

 

Why is there a lack of regulation?

Regulatory bodies control many aspects of change in a given field. However, they often struggle to manage innovation because of two main reasons. Firstly, most regulation was written long before the technological advances that we see today. Secondly, nowadays technology is developing so fast that regulatory frameworks can’t keep up – and regulation ends up lagging.

With a lot of innovative technologies, they are so new that we can’t fully understand their implications on the market, or the future problems they might bring. This makes it very hard to set clear regulation around them.

Take Bitcoin. The virtual currency has created big challenges to regulators, mainly because it is hard to regulate a technology we don’t quite understand. The risk of setting rules that are not necessary, or not right, will limit its future potential.

 

What are the consequences of “passive” regulation?

However, it is thought that the lack of clear regulation puts consumers at risk and the companies that implement these innovations in full control.

Because of “passive” regulation, there are very few rules when it comes to releasing new disruptive tech products, and it is the innovator companies that decide when or how they are released to society. These decisions can, in some cases, end up having a massive transformative effect on society– and because of a lack of rules there is very little anyone else can do about it.

These companies have worked hard to make their innovations work, and they are not going to limit themselves, especially if there is no law to tell them otherwise.

One problem is that the inventors can be so product-minded that they forget to think about the bigger picture – and don’t always consider how their technology could be used in unpredictable ways, and consequently have unexpected risks.

A good example is neuromorphic chip technology. This innovation is based on a neuro-inspired computer that mimics the way human neurons and synapses communicate. With further developments robots will be able to form memories and increase intelligence – like humans do. This is a big breakthrough – but again, like much innovative technology the consequences of this could be dramatic – yet we won’t know until it is released and could be too late.

Another big problem is that a lack of rules creates monopolies in the marketplace. This is a whole topic which has created a lot of media attention in the last few years.

 

Does a lack of regulation contradict “responsible development”?

A lack of clear regulation also means no clear law when it comes to innovation and ethics. Companies are left to their own devices to make ethical decisions that will impact our society.

Science has been an area of controversy when it comes to “responsible development”. Some controversial examples include genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the control of the IVF and genetic manipulation. We are currently developing systems that enable us to replace genes with others – essentially allowing the elimination of certain diseases. Genetic manipulation should be celebrated, but without clear regulation where do we draw the line? China has already attempted to create a “designer baby” by manipulating an embryo’s genome.

Another area of interest is Artificial Intelligence.  AI software based on algorithms are now being used by insurance companies to calculate people’s quotes, or by recruitment companies to choose candidates. Yet is it right to let these decisions be made by machines? Society hasn’t had a say on this – it is the companies creating the software and the ones buying it calling all the shots.

In short, tech is innovating faster than we are forming systems of ethics to ensure “responsible development”. We are however seeing improvements in this area – for example the European Union Horizon 2020 framework program for research and innovation includes a specific work program on Responsible Research and Innovation.

 

However, could regulation limit growth?

“Regulation” is often synonymous with “limitation” – which completely contradicts the idea of innovation.

We are living in a very exciting innovative period, which has been fuelled by limited rules and unlimited opportunities. Despite the obvious issues with uncontrolled innovation, it is also thought that new technology is a very fragile thing and setting up regulatory supervision and an obstacle of rules would go against the principles of innovation, and in turn inhibit growth.

 

To conclude, regulation in innovation is needed to protect public health and safety, and to ensure fair competition in the marketplace.

The challenge is to find a happy medium, where innovation is encouraged, but only in an ethical and positive way for society.

To make this happen, companies should work with the regulatory bodies to communicate the benefits in their inventions for society, and together better understand how to establish appropriate up-to-date rules that still allow us, as a society, to reap the benefits. A collaborative approach should help both regulators and innovative companies achieve their goals.

 

Posted in Industry News, News

Women in Industry: Sameera Moussa

We are pleased to launch a monthly series about inspiring women in industry. It is widely known that women within the STEM sector are vastly under-represented and we would like to encourage more women to consider a career in STEM. This year is also the 100th year since the first British women were given the right to vote.

Bearing this in mind we wanted to showcase the most influential women in history who have contributed to discoveries in science. Some of these women you may have heard of and some are unsung heroines.

The first woman in this series is Sameera Moussa:

Sameera Moussa – Nuclear Physicist, March 3, 1917 – August 5, 1952

Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive materials to help diagnose and treat a wide variety of diseases. It is quick, painless and usually performed as an outpatient procedure. It has literally saved and improved the lives of countless people, but did you know that one of the early pioneers of nuclear medicine was a woman called Sameera Moussa? I bet you didn’t.

You may never have heard her name before but you definitely should have. She was a contemporary of many famous scientists such as Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Watson & Crick.

Sameera’s mother died of cancer while Sameera was still very young. This left a long-lasting impression on the young girl and is likely one of the reasons she dedicated her life to making nuclear technology accessible for medical use. She once claimed she wanted to make nuclear treatment as cheap as Aspirin. Throughout her life she volunteered at various hospitals, helping care for cancer patients.

Sameera excelled in her primary and secondary education, eventually winning a place at Cairo University where she joined the Faculty of Sciences to study for a BSc in Radiology. She finished her degree with First Class Honours and followed up this triumph with a doctorate in Atomic Radiation. She later became a lecturer and assistant professor at the university, the first woman to hold such a post there.

She was awarded the prestigious and highly competitive Fulbright Scholarship which allowed her to travel to America and study at the modern research facilities in California. She was even given permission to visit secret US atomic facilities in recognition of her pioneering nuclear research. She was the first non-US born person to be granted that privilege.

While working in the UK she discovered an equation that would make nuclear bombs cheaper, however, she also set up the Atomic Energy for Peace conference because she knew that radiation was more than just a destructive force.

Sadly her life and pioneering work were cut short. She was killed in a tragic car accident while in California when the vehicle she was travelling in fell from a height of 40 feet.

Who knows what she could have accomplished if she hadn’t died so young.

The Egyptian Army honoured her in 1953 and she was posthumously awarded the Order of Science and Arts, First Class. She has a school and laboratory named after her in a village she lived in.

You now know who Sameera Moussa was and why she should be your new hero!

 

Take a look at our article ‘the future is bright for women in engineering featuring Hedy Lamarr’.

Author: Natasha Young

Natasha Young

 

Posted in Industry News, Job of the Week, News

Should we be worried about the future of the engineering industry?

In Britain, 5.7 million people currently work in engineering companies. This represents nearly one fifth of total people employed! But despite being one of the largest sectors in the UK, its future is uncertain.

By 2020 50% of the engineering workforce in the UK is set to retire

Currently the average engineer in Britain is 54 years old. With the average retiring age nearing 65, 50% of the entire engineering workforce is set to retire by 2020. To make things worse, those retiring will be the employees with 30 years experience and the directors. The big question is how is the industry going to cope? There will certainly be a struggle to find enough qualified engineers and technicians to replace them.

Britain needs an extra 20,000 engineering graduates per year

However, the industry’s reputation for being a mature industry is not the only troubling matter. In parallel, studies have proven that there is a rapidly decreasing proportion of younger workers entering the engineering world. This might be explained by the uncomfortable fact that only 6% of students in the UK are studying engineering and related subjects at university. Women in particular are under-represented with only 1 in 7 engineering students being female.

Engineering UK has recently said the country needs over 1.8 million new engineers and technicians by 2022 to replace the disappearing older workforce, as well as meet engineering companies’ expansion demands. This averages out at about 182,000 people per year.

The reality is that there is a big gap between the amount of engineering demand in the UK, and the existing supply given the disappointing numbers of new entrants. According to Engineering UK’s analysis, the 182,000 engineers needed per annum include 57,000 people at advanced apprentice level, and around 101,000 engineering graduates. If we look at historic figures we can project that there will be just over 41,000 British engineering graduates and an additional 40,000 international engineering graduates from abroad per year. If, as the study shows, there is a need for 101,000 engineering graduates per year, there is currently a shortfall of around 20,000.

Engineering company’s in construction, ICT and manufacturing are the hardest hit

Certain engineering sectors are more affected than others. Engineering companies in construction, ICT and manufacturing are the hardest hit. They have expressed a need for more employees with higher level skills over the next few years but are less and less confident that they can recruit the skills needed in sufficient numbers. This is an issue throughout the UK, but even more predominant in London and the South East of England.

The effects of Brexit

The Brexit result has not helped growing concerns. As we mentioned previously, the engineering industry has relied on around 40,000 international graduates joining the British workforce year-on-year. This is not even counting all the other international workers that help run the sector. Potential changes to the free movement of labour could restrict these numbers, and cause an even bigger unbalance.

So, what is the solution to minimise the damage? There has been a big push to promote STEM subjects at school to make sure pupils can make well-informed decisions on their future careers at an early stage. New entrants into the market will help the long-term problem, but in the next few years, once the older generation retire, the remaining younger engineers and  graduates could struggle to replace those with over 30 years’ experience.

On a positive note, this ongoing problem makes current practising engineers and technicians very employable!

Posted in Industry News, Job News, News

Engineer job of the week: EC&I Engineer

This week our engineering job of the week is an EC&I Engineer role which offers the right candidate a fantastic opportunity to join well-established speciality chemicals manufacturer in Norwich. It has also been chosen because it’s:

  • working with products going into the agrochemical, pharmaceutical and FMCG sectors
  • a permanent position
  • offering a competitive salary of up to £46,000 pa DOE with a good benefits package

Apply here

 

 

Posted in Industry News, Job News, Job of the Week, News

The future is bright for women in engineering

International Women in Engineering day happens on the 23rd of June annually. Its purpose is to celebrate the amazing women who have gone before us as well as those currently in the engineering sector and to highlight the awesome career prospects to young women who are just starting out on their career path.  For this year’s women in engineering day, I would like to celebrate two specific women. One whom you have probably heard of, and one you may not have yet.

Hedy Lamarr Let’s start with Hedy Lamarr.

Hedy is perhaps most famous as a successful actress in the 1930’s. One of those “silver screen goddesses of MGM” types. What you might not know is that she was an accomplished engineer and inventor too. During the Second World War, she was the co-inventor of a frequency hopping device to remotely guide torpedoes. Along with her colleague George Anthiel they got the patent for their Secret Communication System on 11th August 1942. Unfortunately, the U.S. Navy weren’t interested in using inventions that came from outside the military. The patent lapsed in 1959 but, in 1962 the communication technology was installed on U.S. ships that were sent to blockade Cuba. Today, the ‘frequency hopping’ technology has been integral in creating GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Hedy and George were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

A quick look at the Women’s Engineering Society’s website (http://www.wes.org.uk/statistics) shows some very sad statistics:

  • Only 9% of the engineering workforce is female
  • 6% of registered engineers and technicians are women
  • The UK has the lowest level of female engineering professionals in Europe. We are severely lagging behind countries like Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus who have around 30%

BUT:

  • A survey of 300 female engineers said the 84% were happy or extremely happy with their career choice.

Girls are taking up STEM subjects in equal numbers to boys at GCSE level so, where are they all going?

I decided to ask a current engineering student her perspective on what it’s like to be a woman studying what is clearly still a male dominated area.  Emily Kirk, who is currently studying her 2nd year in Aerospace Engineering at the University of the West of England, kindly donated her time to come and meet me in the office to chat. Emily decided to go into engineering while completing her A Levels when she discovered she really enjoyed mathematics and physics. Always a problem solver, she didn’t let the fact that there were only four other girls in her A Level classes put her off. By the end of the A Levels, there was just one girl. During her course, Emily noticed that her teacher sometimes made jokes or said things that made her uncomfortable and showed that he probably hadn’t really considered what it was like to be a girl study those subjects. Luckily that attitude didn’t put Emily off going to University and, it didn’t continue when she got there. Although there is still a great disparity in the amount of girls on her degree compared to boys, she said that her lecturers do not treat her differently and the other boys on her course don’t either. She was adamant that she has not experienced any sexism of any kind from anyone whilst studying in Bristol and can even say that the Head of Engineering & Mathematics is a woman. When I asked if she thought that the gender bias in engineering is changing she was very sure that it was, in a positive way and that the future is very bright for women in engineering.

So perhaps it’s all an image problem? I had a quick look at some advertising in the Engineering & Technology magazine that was specifically designed to attract more women to the sector. I wasn’t impressed. A quick glance showed that they were trying to sell engineering to girls using such images tampons, broken apart dolls and in one (awful instance) a rocket shaped like a phallus. All the ads seemed very tone deaf to me and in some ways were still selling the same sexist points of view that turned off generations of women from engineering.  As a recruiter in the engineering sector, I hardly ever see CVs from women. I am truly hoping that will change in the coming years. I don’t think we are going to do it through advertising campaigns, I think we will do it by changing the way we talk to children about engineering subjects. Let’s stop saying things like ‘girls are bad at maths’ (yes, that was said to me when I was in primary school). Let’s tell girls, and boys, that they can do anything as long as they put the hard work in!

 

Natasha YoungBy Natasha Young

Recruitment Consultant at CK Engineers

Tel: 01246 457739

E: nyoung@ckengineers.co.uk

 

If you are interested in searching for a job in engineering click here

Or if you would like some advice on how to acquire a job in engineering click here

 

Posted in Industry News, News

Job of the week: Technical Transfer Lead

This week, we have an excellent Technical Transfer Lead role based in Dublin, this has been chosen because it is:

  • A brilliant opportunity to join a manufacturer of a wide range of pharmaceutical products for the human healthcare market.
  • This organisation is one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies delivering world class treatments and medicines in over 100 countries.
  • A fantastic opportunity to join this organisation on an initial 12-month contract at their site in the world-renowned capital city of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin.
  • This role will involve the management of cross-functional activities on site required to successfully and efficiently receive a portfolio of complex drug product manufacturing processes.
  • This contract is offering a competitive pay rate of up to €55 per hour depending on experience for a limited company contractor.

Apply for or find out more about this job here

 

 

 

Posted in Industry News, News

How to tackle interview tasks and the STAR interview technique

There have been many articles written on interview preparation covering subjects like – plan your journey, dress smartly, research the business before you go, prepare questions for your interviewer as well as many others – in fact, we have written quite a few ourselves.

In this latest article we are reviewing the tasks and interview techniques that are becoming common practice in interviews for engineering jobs, especially for more senior positions. This includes the do’s and don’ts’s of preparing and managing the STAR interview technique, alongside other top tips

 

To read this article in full click here

Posted in Industry News, News

Facing the skills gap in engineering

If you are an engineer or work within the engineering, life science or pharmaceutical industries you are probably very familiar with the term skills gap.  But you may wonder what are the latest updates on the skills gap, what are organisations doing to combat it, what can they do to close the gap and how does this affect me? Liam O’Connell, Director of CK Group and Chairman of REC Life Sciences, has written a short article that answers these questions.

A recent report published by the Social Market Foundation and EDF highlights the fact that 640,000 vacancies are predicted within the STEM sector over the next 6 years. This mirrors reports published in 2016 by the Wakeham Review of STEM Degree Provision and the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries which both highlight the current and future need to focus on increasing the number of STEM professionals within the life science and pharmaceutical industries.

This potential scarcity within the science sector could be further exacerbated by the potential impact of free movement of labour within the EU. All economic indicators are that the UK economy will continue to grow, with great emphasis on the STEM industries.

As such it is vital that companies in these sectors undertake strategic manpower planning in order to ensure that they have the staff and skills to meet demand.

So what can organisations do to ensure the meet the demand for highly skilled staff over the next ten years?

Long-term Talent Management Planning: – Plan for the futures in relation to manpower planning rather than reacting to immediate needs.

  • Liaise with schools to encourage GCSE and A Level students to pursue careers in science.
  • Liaise and offer placements for universities in the STEM sector (This is a great method of finding futures employees)
  • Investigate how apprenticeships in the STEM sector will work for you.
  • Undertake ongoing reviews of your benefits packages to ensure you stay up to date with market changes. Salaries within the Stem sector are increasing as demand for staff increases.
  • Investigate non-financial rewards and career opportunities ensuring you retain your best staff.
  • Develop your internal staff with further training to suit your long-term needs.
  • Become politically engaged to ensure we can influence government policy in relation to education, movement of highly skilled staff and investment in the Stem Sector.
  • Work closely with your recruitment partners to ensure strategic planning in staff attraction.

The demand for staff within the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries is predicted to increase greatly over the next 10 years and it is important that the potential skill shortages are addressed now. Organisations need to address this from school level through to graduate /PhD level while at the same time improving and changing internal policies and structures to ensure that they retain their best staff. It is vital that they work with their recruitment partners, whether these are recruitment consultancies or MSPs, to maintain up to date information on trends within the employment market and how to plan to meet future recruitment requirements.

If you wish to discuss any of these issues contact Liam O Connell: loconnell@ckagroup.co.uk

Or if you would like to read more about our Drug Discovery and Development Careers spotlight click here

Posted in Industry News, News

Work experience – the best way to kick start your career

Landing that first job after graduating is possibly one of the hardest roles to get. You are up against the full cohort of students, all graduating with similar skill sets as you and all vying for the same roles, so making yourself stand out is vital.

Work experience is a huge differentiator for employers. It makes you seem motivated and driven. It furnishes you with the knowledge of how to translate your taught skills into a work environment and also the experience of working with soft skills such as teamwork, communication and time management.

CK Consultant, Sam Stewart has written an article on the types of work experience available to you and how best to access it.

To read it in full click here

This article is part of the Drug Discovery and Development series. To read more or to view our infographic which focusses on how to improve your job hunting success click here

Sam Stewart

Sam Stewart is a CK Recruitment Consultant. He has an industrial PhD in Medicinal Chemistry from the GlaxoSmithKline and University of Strathclyde collaborative industrial PhD programme and four years industry experience

Click here to contact him

 

 

 

Posted in Industry News, News