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Occupations

The largest occupational groups are operators, crafts workers and administration, and clerical employees.


Occupational hard-to-fill vacancies and skill shortage vacancies

  • 19% of employers in the sector report vacancies, compared to 18% in all sectors
  • 9% report hard-to-fill vacancies, compared to 7% in all sectors
  • In total there are around 8,820 hard-to-fill vacancies reported, which is 1.8% of employment in the sector
  • 9% report skill shortage vacancies, compared to 5% in all sectors
  • The highest proportion of skills shortage vacancies are for skilled trades (41%)
  • 17% of establishments report skills gaps, compared to 15% in all sectors
  • the proportion of staff described as lacking proficiency is 6%

Skills gaps are highest for operatives, skilled trades and elementary. Gaps are reported to be for technical and practical skills, and far below for team working and problem-solving.

The impact of hard-to-fill vacancies is reported to be:

  • increased workload for other staff
  • delays developing new products
  • increased operating costs
  • loss of business or orders to competitors

The factors which drive changes in skill needs, include: the introduction of new technologies or equipment (30%); the development of new products and services (25%); new legislative or regulatory requirements (23%); and the introduction of new working practices (21%).

Focusing on technical and engineering skills, CNC machine operation is the most sought after skill. Tool setting is also significant relative to other skills mentioned.

Source: National Employer Skills Survey 2008 and BMG Research Report 2007

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Salary levels

Pay scales in this industry vary depending on individual experience, level of responsibility and location of job. So, the following only provides an indication of the average annual salaries of the current workforce:

Automotive manufacturing

  • Engineering Maintenance Fitter – starting salaries range from £15,500 to £17,500, with first year craft apprentices starting between £8,000 and £10,000. The average pay for a fitter is around £27,000. Highly-skilled and experienced fitters can earn over £40,000.
  • Welder – starting salaries range from £15,500 to £17,500, with first year craft apprentices starting between £8,000 and £10,000. Qualified welders earn on average £24,000, although this can be higher with overtime and shift work. Highly skilled welders with specialist qualifications or those carrying out specialist work overseas or underwater work, can earn over £31,500 a year.
  • Labourers in process and plant operations – salaries are in the range of £17,000 to £18,000, but can earn more if working nights or shifts.

Mechanical equipment manufacture

  • Mechanical Engineer – starting salaries for graduates are between £18,000 and £21,000. Experienced mechanical engineers can earn on average around £38,000 or more, depending on their professional status and experience. Chartered mechanical engineers in senior roles can earn over £44,000.
  • Mechanical Engineering Technician – starting salary for an individual in training may be around £15,000. An experienced technician earns around £30,000. The most experienced technicians with high levels of responsibility can earn over £38,000.
  • Engineering Maintenance Fitter – starting salaries range from £15,500 to £17,500, with first year craft apprentices starting between £8,000 and £10,000. The average pay for a fitter is around £27,000. Highly-skilled and experienced fitters can earn over £40,000.
  • Toolmaker – starting salaries range from £15,500 to £17,500, with first year craft apprentices starting between £8,000 and £10,000. An experienced toolmaker earns around £25,000. Highly skilled toolmakers with management responsibilities can earn over £38,000.

Electronics and electrical equipment manufacture

  • Manufacturing Production Manager – starting salary for new graduates or those new to the role is around £19,000 to £23,000. An experienced production manager can earn around £38,500. Some managers with high levels of responsibility earn more than £56,000 a year.
  • Design Engineer – starting salaries for graduates are between £18,000 and £21,000. Experienced design engineers can earn on average around £35,000 or more, depending on their professional status. Senior design engineers can earn around £45,000 or more.
  • Electrical Engineering Technician – starting salary for an individual in training may be around £15,000. An experienced technician earns around £30,000 a year. The most experienced technicians with high levels of responsibility can earn over £38,000.
  • Electronics Assembler – new assemblers can earn around £10,500. Experienced assemblers earn between £13,500 and £17,000. The highest salaries are around £20,000 with overtime and shift work.

Transport equipment

  • Aerospace/Marine/Mechanical Engineer – starting salaries for graduates are between £18,000 and £21,000. Experienced engineers can earn £38,000 or more, depending on their professional status and experience. Chartered aerospace/marine/mechanical engineers in senior roles can earn around £45,000 or more depending on their levels of responsibility.
  • Naval architect – starting salaries for graduates are between £18,000 and £21,000. Experienced architects can earn on £38,000 or more, depending on their professional status and experience. Chartered naval architects in senior roles can earn around £55,000 or more depending on their levels of responsibility.
  • Aerospace Engineering Technician – starting salaries for a technician undergoing training may be around £15,000, which can rise to around £30,000 with experience. The most experienced technicians with high levels of responsibility can earn over £38,000.
  • Marine Craftsperson – starting salaries can range from around £15,500 to £17,500, with first year craft apprentices starting between £8,000 and £10,000. The average pay for a marine craftsperson is around £27,000. Highly-skilled and experienced workers may earn over £40,000.
  • Shipwright/riveter/plater – starting salaries can range from around £18,000 to £20,500, with first year craft apprentices starting between £8,000 and £10,000. Qualified platers can earn £25,000. This could be higher for those involved in offshore contracts or work away from home. Those with management responsibility could earn over £30,000.
  • Engineering Operative – starting salaries can be around £12,500, with apprentices starting between £8,000 and £10,000. Experienced engineering operatives can earn up to £21,000, but this could be higher for those working shifts and overtime. The most skilled and experienced operatives with management responsibilities can earn £28,000 or more with overtime and piecework.
  • Materials Engineer/Scientist – starting salaries for graduates are between £18,000 and £21,000. Experienced materials engineers can earn on average around £36,000. Those with extensive experience and responsibility can earn over £46,000.

Metals

  • Metallurgist – starting salaries for graduates are around £18,500. Experienced metallurgists can earn on average around £30,000. Those with extensive experience and responsibility can earn over £38,000.
  • Materials Technician – starting salaries range from £12,000 to £16,000. With experience this can rise to around £23,000. Highly-skilled technical staff or those with management responsibilities can earn over £30,000.
  • Foundry Moulder/Coremaker – starting salaries range from £15,500 to £17,500, with first year craft apprentices starting between £8,000 and £10,000. Qualified and experienced employees can earn £21,000. This could be higher for those involved in high levels of responsibility or who work shifts or overtime.
  • Foundry Patternmaker – starting salaries range from around £8,000 to £10,000 a year. Qualified patternmakers can earn over £26,000. This could be higher for those involved in high levels of responsibility or who work shifts or overtime.
  • Sheet Metal Worker – starting salaries range from £15,500 to £17,500, with first year craft apprentices starting between £8,000 and £10,000. Qualified and experienced workers can earn up to £23,000. This could be higher for those involved in high levels of responsibility or who work shifts or overtime. Highly skilled sheet metal workers can earn up to £28,000 a year.

The sciences

  • Analytical chemist – starting salary for new graduates is around £20,000 to £23,000. An experienced analytical chemist can earn around £33,500. Some analytical chemists with high levels of responsibility earn more than £37,000.
  • Biochemist – starting salary for new graduates is around £20,000 to £23,000. An experienced biochemist can earn around £33,500. Some analytical chemists with high levels of responsibility earn more than £50,000.
  • Biomedical engineer – starting salary for new graduates is around £20,000 to £24,000. An experienced biomedical engineer can earn around £32,500. Some biomedical engineers with high levels of responsibility earn more than £60,000.
  • Biomedical scientist – starting salary range from at least £20,225 for a newly-qualified biomedical scientist. Some at professional manager level can earn up to £64,000.
  • Biologist – starting salary for new graduates is around £17,000 to £20,000. An experienced biologist can earn around £32,500. Some biologists with high levels of responsibility earn more than £45,000.
  • Biotechnologist – starting salary for new graduates is around £17,000 to £20,000. An experienced biotechnologist can earn on average around £32,500. Some biotechnologists with high levels of responsibility earn more than £44,000.
  • Clinical scientist – starting salary for new graduates is around £20,000 to £24,000. An experienced clinical scientist can earn around £32,500. Some clinical scientists with high levels of responsibility earn more than £60,000.
  • Microbiologist – starting salary for new graduates is around £17,000 to £20,000. An experienced microbiologist can earn around £32,500. Some microbiologists with high levels of responsibility earn more than £50,000.
  • Physicist – starting salary for new graduates is around £20,000 to £23,000. An experienced physicist can earn around £38,500. Some physicists with high levels of responsibility earn more than £44,000.
  • Research Scientist – starting salary for graduate can be around £18,500. Experienced research scientists earn around £30,000. Those with extensive experience and responsibility can earn over £38,000.

Source: Semta LMI report March 2010

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Future trends of engineering occupations

56% of sector employment is in skilled trades occupations, machine and transport operatives, plus elementary occupations, which is almost double their average share in the economy as a whole.

An additional 150,000 jobs are expected to be lost from the sector over the next ten years. Half of this reduction will be amongst the skilled trades occupations. Total requirement is, however, positive for all occupational groups with the exception of elementary occupations. Over the next ten years, the net loss in elementary occupations outweighs the replacement demand requirement.

Source: Working Futures 2006

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Occupational roles and sources of information

A variety of key roles in the engineering sector are identified by Prospects and detailed information is available. Some selected examples include: aeronautical engineer; biochemical engineer; electronics engineer; naval architect; and process engineer. For information on these roles and others in the sector go to the Prospects website case studies.

The ‘engineering Planner’ was devised by Semta to provide useful information about qualifications and levels of responsibility for particular job roles and act as guidance for people wanting to progress to different roles through training and further study.

The Next Step website also has detailed occupational profiles for some occupations in the engineering and manufacturing and science and research sections. These profiles include information on entry points, training, working environment, employment opportunities and expected annual salary.

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