The Engineer Salary in the UK – Why is There a Shortage of Engineers?

- by Erin Redfern
Different jobs and their salaries – Chapter 11

An engineers salary is £24,000 – £150,000 per year depending on the level of experience and the field of engineering. The average salary is 62% higher than the UK’s national average salary. Why is there such a shortage of good engineers? Cashfloat, a payday loans direct lender in the UK explores why…

The average salary for an engineer is £48,000 per year.

Engineer salary chart Engineer salary chart

A Shortage of Engineer Graduates

The results of a survey reporting on jobs in the engineering industry has produced an anomaly. Companies are reporting that there is a shortage of graduates in science and engineering. Those graduates who have passed their exams and gained qualifications in this skilled field are finding that the competition for the well-paid jobs at top companies is fierce.

The government and businesses have been saying for years that not enough students are taking up engineering. However, students who have recently graduated are finding it increasingly difficult to find a well-paid position. Is this a result of a mismatch of jobs and skills or is there another reason behind these findings?

Chapter 11 - Working as an engineer- Cashfloat

An Uneven Jobs Market

Predictably, the large, well-known companies offering good salaries with benefits attract a high number of applicants for each vacancy. Smaller companies, often located in the countryside away from the mainstream towns and cities, find it difficult to attract any applicants. If these businesses cannot compete for the best qualified graduates, then their future could be at stake.

Understandably, graduates gravitate towards cities which offer a social life as well as a working life. Yet, they are overlooking more rural counties like Cornwall or Devon. In these places there are roles to be filled but not enough people to fill them.

A Shortage of Skilled Engineers

Unemployment rate is highest amongst young people. Despite this, companies still can’t find enough people to fill the engineering gap. Industries like nuclear engineering have had to resort to finding suitable foreign employee rather than home-grown talent.

Companies are also finding that recent graduates are lacking basic technical skills. They are willing to spend money on training employees. But, not enough young people are pursuing engineering as a career. This means that inevitably there are not enough high quality candidates to go around.

Competition for the Best Engineering Jobs

As the numbers of students choosing science and engineering studies remains low, many prestigious businesses are concerned there won’t be enough graduates to go around. Other fields like financial services boast high salaries, so more students are going towards business studies over engineering. It has been pointed out that graduates from other courses like engineering are also attracted to business studies. This is because they are looking how to get a good starting salary.

Engineering job - Cashfloat

A Wide Range of Opportunities in Engineering

Is It a Lack of Visibility?

While looking for a solution to the lack of graduates, business bosses and think tanks have pointed out that engineering is a field of study that is poorly promoted. Other areas of work are much more vocal when it comes to attracting young people. Therefore, many potential candidates are not aware of the opportunities that are available in this field of work.

The large companies that have an intake of employees each year in engineering jobs also tend to stick to the top universities when trawling for graduates to take up vacancies. There is also the matter that some young people are not sure about which area of engineering would suit them best. This is compounded by the fact that they do not know which companies to apply to. Students who would consider smaller businesses may be more successful but many graduates stick to looking at the most well-known engineering businesses in order to get a job.

Is Engineering a well paid job?

An engineering graduate can start off on a salary as low as £24,000. This low pay is a factor that could have put off some young people. Since they may be under the impression that all positions in engineering are low paid. And, in some ways the media is to blame as they often promote large financial companies that may be offering a salary of £60,000 for graduates. But, in reality the number of young graduates who can earn this kind of starting salary is very small.

The low pay issue (whether it is true or not) has led to a number of engineering graduates deciding against entering into the industry. Additionally, there is another problem that arises as universities do not have enough places on engineering courses. They and are often unable to find places for the number of applicants who apply.

Apprenticeships Could Fill the Gap

Offering young people a chance to enroll in an apprenticeship could be one of the answers to the shortage of engineers in the UK. With the chance to go on a work based system that at the start may pay a low wage but one which won’t involve accumulating student debt, employees can be trained in the specific skills that an individual company requires.

The advantages for young people are clear as most will stay on with their chosen company after they have finished on their apprenticeship programme.

The answer to the lack of skilled engineers in the UK may rely on a number of different solutions. More university places would go some way to addressing the problem as would an emphasis by the relevant companies on the fact that engineering graduates could earn a very good salary and enjoy a satisfying and exciting career without resorting to short term loans.

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About The Author
Erin Redfern
Erin, a native Londoner, combines her love for the city with her passion for writing. With a first-class degree in Mathematics, Elizabeth chose to pursue a career aligned with her real passion—writing.
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