Mechanical Engineering Job Description
Engineering is a hot topic of discussion for skills development agencies and governmental organisations across the UK. Various pieces of research generally tell a story of an engineering jobs market with an abundance of opportunities. In order to compete on an international stage the UK requires a large amount of new engineers to gain the skills necessary to support the demand.
According to Engineering UK, 2014 saw a decline of over 12% in the number of young people taking the advanced level apprenticeship programmes in engineering based subjects. Furthermore the research has highlighted the need for a doubling of the amount of engineering graduates and a significant increase in the number of qualified Physics and Technology teachers to inspire a new generation of engineers. The problems with the aging engineering workforce magnify the issue further as the UK is potentially sitting on a retirement time bomb if all engineers choose to retire at similar times.
The industry needs a new generation of engineers to enter jobs in engineering and mechanical engineers are just some of the engineers that are of demand.
Mechanical Engineering Job Role
Mechanical Engineers are involved from start to finish in the production of a vast range of mechanical components. Mechanical Engineers produce the concept of the initial idea, design the mechanical product, select materials, create prototypes, find or make tools for production, test and produce. Mechanical Engineers are involved in a wide variety of sectors which typically include automotive, aerospace, energy and other production & manufacture.
Engineering Qualifications and Training
Much of the current engineering workforce in the UK could be described as time served, having developed their skills on the job rather than in college or university. However, today there are many training opportunities for young people and older career changers alike.
For school leavers there are a variety of apprenticeship programmes available in engineering related subjects. Through this route candidates may be able to access an Advanced Engineering Apprenticeship which could lead to further study in the form of a degree.
Alternatively students may wish to take the university route, undertaking a technology or engineering focussed undergraduate degree programme with an opportunity to further study through a Master’s in Engineering. In order to become chartered, engineers are required to have at least 4 years of vocational training with an accredited employer and an Institution of Mechanical Engineers accredited degree which should be at MEng level.
What are Mechanical Engineers involved with?
Engineers are involved in numerous things as part of the role. With a keen eye for problem solving through the production of mechanical equipment engineers will need to understand materials, costs, the importance of time management and deadlines as well as providing logical solutions. From this point of view engineers could be involved in design, research, analysis, testing, liaising with suppliers, understanding & reporting on technical issues and hands on production.
Engineering Job Sectors of Interest
The nature of the industry means that engineers are in demand across the board and therefore a wide range of opportunities exist. Historically the Automotive and aeronautical industries in the UK have been large scale employers, and in the geographic locations surrounding the bigger companies there tends to be a whole supply chain of SMEs supporting them further by providing components. Other employers of engineers in the UK include sector`s such as construction, manufacture and production, energy, offshore, utilities and large scale civil engineering companies.
Salary Expectations and Hours of work for a Mechanical Engineer
Salaries will vary dependent on numerous factors such as location and experience. However smaller regional employers in the UK would typically offer starting salaries in the region of £18k per annum with this figure rising to upward of £30k for a blue chip corporate level graduate scheme. Certain sectors, particularly in oil and offshore, are often renowned for their higher rates of pay.
In terms of typical work patterns typical production facility may run day shifts between 8am and 6pm. However many may run on a shift basis of 4 days on/4 days off or days and nights. For anyone interested in international offshore careers quite often employees are required to spend significant amounts of time offshore, for example 2-3 weeks followed by 1 or 2 weeks at home.