Engineering has been turned on its head in the last year, we’ve been tested in all areas of business, but things seem to be brightening up. We’re exiting this pandemic with a resilience as an industry that we never had before. With this resilience comes change, and necessary change at that.
Research shows that diverse teams have a wider range of ideas than homogeneous teams and as businesses need to be agile, diversity in teams is key to remain competitive and innovative. Organisations have spent years developing hiring processes, policies, procedures, and changing the way we work to guarantee equality across the board. Despite this, there is still a large gap in industry when it comes to appreciating people from all walks of life with a diverse range of characteristics. While things are seemingly better than they were, there’s a lot of work to do.
We know that technology has touched both our home and business lives in a very profound way – it has accelerated the pace of progress in just about everything we do. But it has also done something else: it has allowed us to cross national borders and blurred the edges that used to separate our various industries. Engineering and manufacturing in general are undergoing a revolution thanks to AI, digitalisation and other advanced technologies. Parallel revolutions are happening in other, unconnected sections of the UK economy. The common denominator and driver is technology.
The engineering and manufacturing sectors must get this message out into the jobs marketplace if we are to attract the new talent, we need to create a prosperous future in an increasingly competitive world. Those already employed need to be retrained; those contemplating their futures on leaving full- time education need to be made aware of the exciting opportunities provided either through apprenticeships or graduate trainee programmes. In the modern world of engineering, you can work on the shop floor, but you could just as easily work in product design, supply chain management, marketing, sales or finance. There are no boundaries or limits.
Gender is not a barrier. Historically, the Western world, including the UK, has not been as good as some developing nations in attracting women into engineering. In 2018, a survey by Engineering UK reported that only 12.37 % of engineers in the UK were female, a shocking statistic for many.
Improving the situation here in the UK will require industry-wide collaboration. The benefits will not only improve industry’s ability to access the best available talent but also to help meet the current data and digital skills shortage. Global demands are changing rapidly – as evidenced by Industry 4.0 which confirms that the world is already undergoing a fourth Industrial Revolution. After Brexit, Britain needs to be in the right seat on the bus.