The number of engineering jobs in the UK has been growing at the fastest rate since the recession, an accountancy firm said.
According to a study by Nixon Williams, the number of engineering jobs available in the UK has increased by 17.7 per cent over the past year with 159,000 employees currently working in the engineering sector.
The number, however, still stays 9 per cent behind the 2009 pre-crisis peak. While the average annual salary in the engineering sector in 2009 was £29,222, in 2014 it was 2 per cent higher at £29,806. That's certainly a positive development as the similarly technically skilled IT sector still lags 2 per cent behind its 2009 peak in terms of median annual pay. While in 2014 the avarage annual salary in IT was £36,148, in 2009 it reached to £37,094.
“The UK engineering sector has seen its strongest year of jobs growth since the recession and has cemented its status as one of the key drivers of economic output in recent years,” said Martin Brennan, Practice Manager of Nixon Williams. “Employers are increasingly reporting that a shortage of engineers is a threat to their growth plans and are struggling to find the skills they need in the marketplace.”
He further predicted that if the growth remains at the current rate, the number of employees in the sector will surpass the 2009 levels in the course of this year.
However, Brennan warned that the pay growth in the engineering sector has been relatively subdued. “We are seeing this phenomenon elsewhere in the economy where employers have opted to recruit graduates into entry level jobs and train them internally rather than recruit experienced, and often higher paid, candidates,” Brennan said.
According to the firm, the job creation growth is largely driven by spending on infrastructure projects.
The National Infrastructure Plan (NIP), which was announced by the Government last December, plans to spend £375bn on infrastructure projects up to 2030 and beyond. This will pile further pressure on the UK’s engineering talent pool at a time when the supply of skills is already struggling to cope with demand.
“Demand for engineering skills in areas such as road building, rail and utilities has picked up markedly over the last few years, driving demand for engineers,” Brennan states. “With the number of students obtaining engineering apprenticeships and degrees in decline, the indigenous skills pool is dwindling.”
In addition to the creation of new permanent positions, the accountancy also registered a marked growth in contracting in the engineering sector. According the Brennan, the trend, by some considered as threating job security, has picked up momentum over the past few years.