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Engineering Job Trends: Insights & Predictions

Written on 11/22/12

Engineering Job Trends: Insights & Predictions

The future is bright for engineering jobs, with some interesting predictions and trends emerging. As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”, a highly relevant phrase for a recent graduate looking to begin a career in engineering.

Here are some predictions for future trends in engineering jobs:

Plentiful jobs for engineers

In 2010 the Royal Academy of Engineering predicted shortages of engineers in energy, utilities and civil engineering over the coming years, as the number of retirees outnumbers those joining the profession. By 2017, the manufacturing sector alone will need over 580,000 new workers.

Climate change = greener engineering jobs

The Climate Change Act (2008) requires the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. In order to meet this challenge, a wide range of engineering job opportunities must be created in order to make the necessary changes to the way in which we live so that targets can be met. The changes must be cost effective and attractive to the general public so that uptake and compliance can be optimised -  a key task for engineers.

Growth in engineering jobs in renewable energy

It is becoming increasingly recognised that to reduce emissions the UK will have to develop a range of low-carbon energy supply technologies. This will require a move away from the traditional use of hydrocarbon-sourced energy towards sustainable and renewable sources such as wind, solar, HEP and nuclear energy. Many engineering careers will be centred on the development of these.

In addition new technologies will be needed to be able to design and build efficient systems which have aesthetic appeal, as the energy generation sites will conflict with areas of recognised natural beauty. The government is supporting hydropower development in the form of a £12billion barrage between Cardiff and Weston-Super-Mare, predicted to around 6% of the UK's electricity needs.

New frontiers in geotechnical engineering

Geotechnical engineers and scientists are investigating geothermal heat mining technologies to generate emission-free electricity. This is likely to be a growth area in engineering jobs. Geothermal power plants can use subterranean steam or hot water to turn turbines that produce electricity. The Eden Project in Cornwall could be the site of the first of these power plants which when fully developed could supply between 10 - 20% of the UK's electricity needs.

Future Technology

There are exciting developments in engineering technology in space, including insulation solutions to reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth. Aluminium threads could be released between the Earth and Sun to act as mirrors to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the earth.

Wind energy is projected to offer the largest opportunity for growth in renewable energies and jobs. Recruitment commentators suggest that wind farms will offer similar engineering jobs to sectors such as oil and gas: working at sea, at height, safety-type roles and managing the transmission and distribution of large quantities of power. Engineers could transfer their skills and experience between energy sectors.

With engineers relied upon to produce the technological solutions to many of the challenges faced by society, the future for careers in engineering is an exciting one.

What are your predictions for the future of engineering?

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