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The State of Engineering in the North West

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Adrian Adair engineering

The latest ‘State of Engineering: North West’ infographic is out from EngineeringUK, but what picture does it paint for the region? Operations director Adrian Adair takes a look at the figures and analyses the opportunities and challenges from within.

The latest ‘State of Engineering: North West’ infographic is out from EngineeringUK, showcasing the vital contribution that the sector makes in driving the region’s economy, as well as current opportunities and challenges.

According to the figures, more than a quarter of all North-West enterprises are engineering-related, which isn’t surprising when the region plays host to a number of global leaders in aerospace, automotive and manufacturing, to name but a few.

Collectively, these businesses employ more than 60,000 people in the North West, an increase of 6.4% from last year, and contribute almost a third of the region’s combined turnover.

Despite this growth, the North West needs to find an extra 18,200 engineers by 2024 to fill the newly-created jobs. A shortfall could be crippling and is why industry, educators and government must work harder to build a solid pipeline of talent to fill this gap.

Encouraging more young people to choose a career in engineering is one way of tackling the recruitment shortfall. Currently, just 29% of 11 to 16-year-olds from the North West actually know what an engineer does and just 1 in 3 understand the different paths you can take to become an engineer.

Luckily, we’ve known about this upcoming shortfall for some time and there are a number of great programmes already in place that are helping to change perceptions, reputation and bridge this skills gap.

Here at Morson International, we’re a lead partner of the Girls’ Network and helped the charity to launch its award-winning mentoring programme in Salford. A number of females from across out team are currently training to be mentors and will partner with young women from disadvantaged communities to encourage them into aspirational paths.

We also recently pledged a further 15 fully-funded engineering scholarships with Salford University as part of our ongoing commitment to develop the next generation of engineers. Bringing the total number to 30, the Gerry Mason Engineering Excellence Scholarship enables talented young people who would otherwise be deterred from university because of the associated tuition fees and living costs, to pursue an engineering degree.

Schools must also rethink how they promote engineering and technical careers, especially to young girls, through the various stages of education. Engineering is a highly creative career where infinite solutions can be imagined, modelled, tested and made, and it’s this imaginativeness that needs promoting from primary level upwards.

The shocking gender divide was another main focus for the report, with just 7% of engineering apprentices and 15% of engineering and technology graduates female. As part of our commitment to attract more females in technical sectors, we’ve pledged to double the number of female engineers we employ by 2020. Currently, Morson International has more than 1,800 female contractors working across the globe, yet specifically in engineering, the number of women compared to men sits at just 7.5 per cent.

We’re also working hard to help young people understand what an engineering job actually entails, with evidence from engineers to show that it isn’t manual, dirty or boring, but instead, provides so many innovative opportunities. Engineering careers offer young people the chance to shape the world, as everything they touch has been engineered, from their phones, apps and game consoles.

With 42,000 organisations in the North West now providing Apprenticeships, from entry-level right through to degree-level equivalent qualifications, the opportunities are there and it’s up to us all to help fill them with talented people.