The most exciting engineering jobs and how to get into them

A total of 19% of the entire UK workforce works in engineering and they play a crucial role in the world we live in. From safer, more efficient transport to creating a sustainable, less harmful environment, the work of engineers touches almost every aspect of our daily lives. It brings huge financial benefits to the economy too; representing 23% of the UK’s annual turnover (EngineeringUK). 

However, as regularly documented, the engineering industry is facing a concerning skills shortage. By 2020, there is predicted to be a staggering 157,000 new jobs in big data alone, with a further 7,200 engineering and technical workers needed in high-speed rail. However, 61% of businesses have reported that they're not confident there will be enough people with the desired skills to fill their high-skilled vacancies. Across the UK, there is annual demand for 124,000 engineers; yet, the anticipated shortfall of engineers currently stands at 59,000 (EngineeringUK).

One of the ways to improve this in the long term is to encourage more young people to consider a career in this rewarding profession – 27% of the engineering professionals we surveyed in our Voice of the Workforce research think this is the best way to address the skill shortage. 

In March this year, Matchtech partnered with Year of Engineering - a campaign aimed at promoting engineering as an exciting profession to help bridge the growing skills gap. To support the theme, here are some of the most exciting engineering jobs in the UK right now and how you can get into them: 

Designing the car of the future

Why is it exciting? The UK automotive industry turns over more than £82 billion and employs more than 800,000 people. Manufacturers are moving away from the production of petrol and diesel cars in favour of alternatively fuelled vehicles, giving automotive engineers the opportunity to be at the forefront of researching and designing both the look and performance of the car of the future. More than 30 manufacturers build in excess of 70 models of vehicle in the UK, supported by 2,500 component providers and some of the world’s most skilled engineers (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders). 

The sheer scale of the industry, coupled with the innovative work being undertaken in alternatively fuelled and autonomous vehicles, make jobs in the automotive industry extremely exciting. 

What jobs are available? Embedded Software, Functional Safety, CAE, advanced concept, calibration and electrical/electronic engineers are just some of the most sought-after roles in the automotive industry at the moment. 

You can see our latest automotive jobs here.

Routes into automotive engineering: Most automotive engineers join the industry from a higher education background, with degrees in automotive engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or production and manufacturing engineering. 

However, it is possible to climb the career ladder with a foundation degree and, although rare, it is possible to transfer from other industries. 

Matchtech Automotive Director Les Hewlett shares his insight on how to join this exciting industry.  

Connecting eight major cities

Why is it exciting? High Speed Two (HS2) is considered Europe’s largest infrastructure project and will better connect the North and South of England through a new 351-mile high speed rail network. The network will service millions of passengers each year, connecting eight out of ten of Britain’s largest cities. The HS2 project not only provides interesting work, but also offers the opportunity for engineers to contribute to something that will last and become part of UK history. 

What jobs are available? Mechanical design engineers, construction managers and 3D modellers with experience in CAD are skills that are in need to meet the demands of this extremely busy project.

View our current HS2 vacancies here.

The routes into a rail career on the HS2 project: While there are great opportunities for rail engineers to land a career-defining role on HS2, there are also opportunities for engineers from other sectors to transfer into the rail industry.

We have detailed three routes engineers can take to work on the ground-breaking HS2 project in this article.

Powering the UK 

Why is it exciting? The energy industry is undoubtedly one of the most important industries an engineer can join, helping power homes and businesses up and down the country.

Whilst nuclear energy can divide opinion, it currently provides more than 20% of the UK’s electricity and the UK government has shown its commitment to investing in nuclear energy over the next 20 years. Hinkley Point C will be the first nuclear power station to be constructed in a generation and the energy it will produce over its 60-year lifespan will help avoid over nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. 

What jobs are available? There are numerous opportunities in nuclear beginning at the technician or junior engineer level, all the way up to senior engineer or management position, which can command salaries up to £70,000. 

Hinkley Point C is expected to create up to 25,000 jobs during the lifetime of the project and will provide 900 full-time jobs once it has been built (EngineeringUK).

See the latest power and nuclear engineering jobs.

The routes into nuclear engineering: There are plenty of routes into the nuclear industry, with university, apprenticeships and transferring from another industry all providing viable options. Those who have worked in regulated industries such as oil, gas and pharma are likely to have the most transferable skills for the nuclear industry.

You can find out more about routes into a career as a nuclear engineer here.

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