The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly shaken and reshaped the economy of the UK. Although the road to recovery and growth will be different for every business sector, each will require a combination of built-in agility and strategic foresight.
As the country is slowly emerging from lockdown, engineers play a vital role in identifying and managing the socio-technical and economic risks that could further limit the harmful impact resulting from this crisis. Engineers can also advise the government on creating a more resilient future. They can build and maintain the national infrastructures, innovate, design, and create new products that could profoundly improve the quality of life.
Here’s how the engineering sector is thriving amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some economists and workers have become increasingly worried about the automation of many entry-level and low-skilled jobs. A report from the New York Times has revealed that automation has increased over the recent years as businesses navigate the uncertainties and challenging economic landscapes resulting from the global pandemic.
Over the past few years, technological advances have meant that automation is now a viable solution to businesses of all sizes in terms of boosting productivity in a market that’s ever short of talents. Aside from helping to close the skills gap, automation also gives UK businesses a competitive edge through increased productivity and better consistency on quality. Currently, the market is unpredictable, and automated processes have allowed businesses to balance cost-effective production. This has led to an increasing need for skilled engineers who can manage profit margins, especially operational leaders, and project managers with experience in upskilling, automation, and continuous improvement.
But the biggest challenge has something to do with the availability of specific skills and the shrinking pool of talents as more companies search for similar talents in the same market, which makes it difficult for essential automation engineering recruitment. In this highly competitive recruitment market, those businesses that can make quick decisions regarding hiring are the ones that prevail.
The increasing demand for engineers with automation skills can isolate those that have operated in more traditional manufacturing environments that are arguably behind the curve. Automation increases the need for technical and skilled workers. For companies to grow their talent pipeline and retain skilled entry-level engineers, they must prioritise upskilling and apprenticeships.
There should be a strong focus on developing existing staff to boost their skills and knowledge base and help close the skills gap to adapt to the market’s changing needs. In order for the UK engineering industry to be sustainable, the sector should continue to embrace the exponential technologies to fully utilise a digitised manufacturing process and reap its many benefits.
2. The Rise of Robotics
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics are revolutionising the way things work. Almost every industry has benefited from this technology, from transport to healthcare, retail, and construction. And those that are at the controls of this automation revolution are engineers.
According to a report commissioned by Google, machines are most likely to take over at least two hours of the most repetitive manual jobs that people do every week. With robotics, people will have more time to do higher-value tasks, although it will also mean the loss of more menial jobs. It’s not that robots will replace these jobs. However, skilled engineers familiar with using these machines will replace those who are not, making the future brighter for engineers.
Most industries that rely on robotics need software engineers, mechatronics engineers, computer scientists, and those with aerospace experience. They also need those with backgrounds in materials and design engineering since they need to understand the materials to use to develop their robots.
Since robots can significantly improve productivity and offset regional differences in terms of availability and labour cost, they will most likely affect the competitiveness of countries and companies. For instance, countries with more robotic infrastructure and programmers could appear more attractive to manufacturers than countries with cheaper labour. These types of changes will fundamentally alter the global economy’s competitive dynamics.
Despite the potentially far-reaching implications of the robotics trend, only a few companies think about how the next generation of robotics could affect their operations, workforce, business models, and competitive position. But there are forward-thinking businesses that are already exploring ways to incorporate robotics along their value chain to minimise cost and improve performance. Perhaps, the most significant promise lies in the ability of robots to alter the company’s value proposition and eventually change the industry’s competitive dynamics.
3. More Woman Joining the Electronics Industry
When electronics engineering became a popular career worldwide, it has not become a common career path for women. But as times have changed and engineering has become more inclusive, a significant number of females are pursuing careers in the electronics industry. While only 14% of the electronics engineering workforce is composed of female employees, it has recently seen a drastic increase from only 5.8% in the eighties.
Several factors have contributed to the increase of female electronics engineers. One of these is that many schools and universities are encouraging women to enter the field. By making STEM subjects available for students in their academic careers, more and more women are likely to pursue a career in the field of electronics. Studies show that incorporating more women in the workplace will help protect women’s rights and is good for the business. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that the co-existence of men and women in the workplace can result in more diverse and creative teams.
As more and more women are making advances in electronics engineering, now is the perfect time for female engineers to further their engineering careers. Currently, there is a high demand for engineering professions, not just in electronics but across many industries, and with very promising salary expectations. Companies looking to hire women engineers should consider using the services of electronic recruitment firms that specialise in electronic recruitment. They are in the business of recruiting for electronics and are aware of the skills and expertise needed to work in this field.