This thought piece has been provided by Dr Salman Saeidlou, MEng (Hons), PhD, FHEA – Senior Lecturer in Mechanical/Material Engineering in the School of Engineering, Technology and Design at Canterbury Christ Church University.
The manufacturing sector significantly contributes to any country’s economy in terms of the creation of goods and services, provision of jobs and attraction of investment from other industries.
Back in 2018, the UK’s manufacturing sector accounted for 8% of all jobs nationwide (2.7 million jobs in total); 10% of the UK’s total economic output (£191 billion in value); 42% of the UK’s exports (with an estimated worth of £275 billion); and received 65% of the UK’s research and development investment (which amounts to £16 billion) (1). Trends over the past thirty years have seen an increase in manufacturing outputs but a reduction in employment (1).
Factors such as Brexit and Covid-19 have impacted the industry negatively; but the exploration of increased investments in local labour and automation as a result of the aforementioned impacts has raised the issue of more employment in the industry and alternative ways of increasing industrial efficiency and improving resilience in case industry grounding scenarios arise (2).
Despite these issues, skilled manufacturing engineers are still needed to not only sustain the industry, but to improve it. The manufacturing industry in the South East of England dominates the area and is a good example of the need for such people. The region accounts for 16.2% of the entire nation’s manufacturing output and has half a million highly-skilled people. With 32,190 manufacturing companies, provided they are seeking to grow and improve over time, there are opportunities for up and coming engineers (3).
The region also has a significant number of global engineering businesses, some from the defence and aerospace industries (4). Engineering individuals can ply their trade in these industries and companies, and can be mentored into fine, world-class engineers whilst being well paid (5), given the level of engineering that is currently being practised in this region. With quality individuals working in these industries, the community will benefit from increased income which will promote further development, further investment in research and an improved quality of life.
There are numerous advantages to being an engineering apprentice en route to being a professional engineer. They include:
- The opportunity to be creative in their area of practice on a daily basis: such programmes give students the chance to work out their own solutions to common industrial problems, which enables them to create bespoke solutions.
- The chance to earn whilst they learn: earning money whilst learning how to be an engineer serves as an added incentive, which will encourage more students to apply for the programme.
- The chance to be mentored by engineering professionals: an environment for both personal and professional growth and development will be available for apprentices (7). This is typically created by established professional engineers and it will go a long way in helping the apprentices to be more confident in what they do.
- The opportunity to obtain specialist qualifications at the end of their programmes: this may give them a competitive edge in the industry, especially if they work for reputable organisations. Moreover, they stand the chance of working for their favourite employer once they have completed their programme (8).
- Not having any educational loans to repay: despite the benefits of obtaining a degree, the chance to avoid paying back government loans makes an apprenticeship programme all the more appealing, coupled with the fact that engineers are already in high demand. This avenue towards a professional qualification stands to be equally, if not more engaging, than a typical degree programme (9).
Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU), in partnership with Mid-Kent College, offers a manufacturing engineering apprenticeship programme which contains a BEng honours qualification in manufacturing engineering. This course commences in January 2021 and has been designed to meet the requirements of the Manufacturing Engineering Degree Apprenticeship Standard.
The programme incorporates the best of both degree-based learning and engineering apprenticeships. It provides students with the opportunity to graduate with specialist knowledge in the subject, coupled with developing both their professional and personal skills. Upon successful completion of the programme, the student will be able to apply the sciences and engineering mathematics, which are relevant to both mechanical and manufacturing engineering; perform engineering analyses using appropriate concepts and tools; and transfer all their acquired skills to the workplace.
In line with national requirements, this course will thoroughly prepare the students for the demands that the industry will have on them once they are finished. The added benefit of professional experience, alongside their educational qualification, will serve them well in industry by helping them to quickly integrate into their respective workplaces.
To find out more about the opportunity to study on this route and what you will learn or to employ an apprentice onto this programme please contact Dr Salman Saeidlou, Senior Lecturer in Mechanical/Material Engineering and the Programme Director of Manufacturing Engineering (Degree) Apprenticeship in the School of Engineering, Technology and Design: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or join us for a live webinar on Monday, September 28th 2020 @ 9:00AM BST.
The sign up link for participants is: https://my.demio.com/ref/57TH3poRAJrieNk2
1. Rhodes C. Manufacturing: statistics and policy. Brief Pap [Internet]. Available from: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn01942/ 2020;(01942):1–24.
2. BIS. Manufacturing in the UK: An economic analysis of the sector. BIS Economics Paper 10A. Dep Bus Innov Ski [Internet]. Available from: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/31785/10-1333-manufacturing-in-the-UK-an-economic-analysis-of-the-sector.pdf 2010;(10)
3. Business-Magazine. South East: Manufacturing dominates in region – highest in UK [Internet]. Available from: https://www.businessmag.co.uk/south-east-manufacturing-dominates-region-highest-uk/ 2018 [cited 2020 Jul 10].
4. EC. South East of England [Internet]. Available from: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/regional-innovation-monitor/base-profile/south-east-england 2019 [cited 2020 Jul 10].
5. Carter E. The Benefits of a Career in Manufacturing [Internet]. Available from: https://www.cmtc.com/blog/bid/137540/The-Benefits-of-a-Career-in-Manufacturing. 2020 [cited 2020 Jul 10].
6. Tierney, M. 4 Steps to Finding the Female Candidates You Need to Improve Your Manufacturing Team [Internet]. Available from: https://www.thomasnet.com/insights/4-steps-to-finding-the-female-candidates-you-need-to-improve-your-manufacturing-team 2019 [Cited 2020 Aug 4].
7. T-2000. 5 Key Benefits of an Engineering Apprenticeship [Internet]. Available from: https://www.training2000.co.uk/5-key-benefits-of-an-engineering-apprenticeship/ 2016 [cited 2020 Jul 10].
8. Make-UK. Advantages of becoming an apprentice. [Internet]. Available from: https://www.makeuk.org/future-makers/become-an-apprentice/advantages-of-becoming-an-apprentice [Cited 2020 Aug 4].
9. Britten E. The top benefits of an engineering apprenticeship [Internet]. Available from: https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/special-features/top-benefits-engineering-apprenticeship-1122272 2018 [cited 2020 Jul 10].
10. Bullinger, J. [Internet]. Available from: https://www.jbcharleston.jb.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2001871845 [Cited 2020 Aug 4].