Why Engineering is so important in the UK – and how we can help engineering thrive

In 2017, engineering contributed 26% of the UK’s GDP (more than that of the retail and wholesale and financial and insurance sectors combined). In addition, every job in engineering supports another 1.74 other jobs*.

And the demand for engineers in the UK is growing. This demand is caused by the age of those working in engineering reaching retirement age and also the generation of new roles requiring engineering skills. Predictions are that the UK needs 124,000 core engineering roles a year (2014 – 2024)** and we face a current shortfall of between 37,000 and 59,000 per year. It’s calculated a shortfall in graduate engineers makes up around 22,000 of this. It’s proposed the UK needs to double the number of graduates and apprentices entering engineering to fill this potential skills gap.

The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) is hailing 2018 as the Year of the Engineer and this week marks International Women in Engineering Day which has become an annual celebration.

Last year, the RAE sought feedback from 7,000 engineers about what the culture of engineering is like and what could make it better. This 3-minute video highlights the findings and the recommendations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1vskzOpR9s

Because engineering is vital to the UK economy – it’s right that engineering as a career choice is in the limelight. It’s also right there is a focus on how to make engineering even better. 

As we know at SSE, attracting a diverse workforce really helps creativity and innovation in business – and it’s innovation within engineering that is at the heart of driving productivity and boosting earning power for everyone across the country. There is work to do in engineering to increase diversity, currently the UK current engineering workforce is 92% male and 94% white.

We also know that to attract more difference (diversity) we need to build an inclusive culture. Lots of work is already underway across SSE to make sure everything we do is fair and inclusive for everyone.

So what are SSE doing specifically to increase the diversity of the engineering workforce?

We are currently undertaking a review of some of our operational and back office roles in our Networks business to find out what we need to change to make the roles more attractive to a broader spectrum of candidates, especially candidates with disabilities. The learnings from this will be shared across the energy industry.

Several of our female engineers gave their views on why engineering is not just a profession for men. We did this to help challenge stereotypes in engineering - here’s what they had to say https://vimeo.com/220309107/f78e1d5586

We are constantly exploring different routes to hire to grow a diverse workforce and are currently in discussion with Equal Engineering to look at tapping into these already diverse candidate pools.


* Engineering UK 2017: the state of Engineering (Feb. 2017), Engineering UK

**Engineering UK 2018: synopsis and recommendations, Engineering UK