Matchtech launches report on engineering workforce

Today sees the launch of the Engineering: Voice of the Workforce report which brings together the perceptions of more than 2,500 engineering professionals from around the world.

The report is based on the findings of an online survey which asked engineering professionals around the world what they thought about key industry issues and factors which affect their career decisions in this profession.

Confidence in career progression and sector performance

The survey showed that around the world, opinions about growth and career progression are divided; with just over half of those working in the engineering industry confident about future growth. 

Engineers in rail (72%) are most confident their sector will grow over the next 12 months, followed by engineers working in utilities (68%) and renewables (65%). In contrast, almost half of those working in oil and gas said they were not confident the sector would increase its revenues. Overall, when considering the sector they expect to grow the most over the next 12 months, 42% of engineers from across all sectors chose the renewables sector. But what factors might prevent this growth? Engineers cite the reducing of budgets, a lack of economic investment and a clear strategy from government as key threats to industry growth.

When assessing levels of confidence in their sector, one thing that may have been on the minds of engineers in the US was the US presidential election campaign, which was taking place at the time the respondents completed the survey. Almost 60% of US respondents said they were concerned about how the US election result would affect the sector. Despite ongoing political change in the UK following the Brexit outcome of the EU referendum, only half (49%) of UK engineers said they were concerned about the impact of Brexit on their sector.

In terms of attitudes on career progression, just under half (49%) are confident that their career will progress over the next 12 months; down 14% from 2014 when we posed the same question to the engineering community in a similar piece of research called the Confidence Index.

Global perceptions & moving abroad for work

Regionally, engineers in Europe have the lowest confidence (53%) that their sector will grow, despite this region being seen as the most industry leading by engineers around the world (41%). In contrast, engineers in Africa are the most confident in sector growth (61%), followed by those in the Middle East (58%) and Asia Pacific (57%). Confidence in North America sits just above Europe at 55%. 

Thinking about job opportunities abroad, half of engineers (49%) said they would like to move to a different country at some point in their career, with Europe being seen as the preferred destination for 35% of this group. Germany and the UK in particular were seen as appealing destinations. The main reason for wanting to move abroad was for a lifestyle change.

Industry-wide challenges

The majority of engineers across all sectors believe there is a skills shortage within their sector, with those working in the water and environment, utilities and aerospace sectors most likely to recognise this as an issue. In regards to how to tackle this ongoing issue, the promotion of engineering as a career to younger generations was seen as the most important factor by 27% of respondents.

Diversity is another topic which is often talked about in the industry. Over half of the respondents stated that they believe gender diversity is improving; however only one third are aware of the steps their employer is taking to improve gender diversity, and even fewer are aware of how their employer is addressing the ageing workforce issue, which was raised as a major threat to the industry by 30% of respondents.

The future of engineering

Thinking about the future, only 16% of engineers who responded believed their role would be at risk or would not exist in five years’ time. Machine automation and technological developments aren’t currently seen as a major threat to their livelihoods or the workforce more broadly, despite the Bank of England’s warning to the contrary that 15m jobs could be lost to automation in the next two decades.

The findings from the Engineering: Voice of the Workforce report were discussed at a recent roundtable at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, which was attended by representatives from  the Institution of Engineering and Technology, EngineeringUK, Women’s Engineering Society, UKNEST, NATS, WSP and the Royal Navy.




We’d like to thank all of the engineering professionals who took part in the survey and contributed to this unique piece of research.

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