Skills & Employment: ‘Future of Engineering’ in The Times

New writing… Pleased to say I have had another article published in The Times newspaper, as part of a special Raconteur report on the Future of Engineering.

Demand for engineering skills in the UK could mean onboarding as many as 265,000 new recruits a year through to 2024, equivalent to the population of Plymouth, every 12 months. That is a lot of engineers. However, locked in the grip of a choking skills shortage right now, the engineering sector faces tough questions about how best to attract those new recruits and equip them for lifelong employment. What combination of soft skills and hard technical proficiency will prove a good fit in the modern working environment? Are UK universities and colleges providing graduates and leavers with the necessary mix? Are employers helping an ageing workforce adapt to the demands of an increasingly digital job spec? Could more be done to assist experienced engineers with transferable skillsets transition from declining industries into new markets? Is the Apprenticeship Levy a stealth tax, or a boon? For expert insights into what skills engineers of the future might need, you can read the full article here:

‘Soft Skills and Hard Truths in Employment’.

The full 16-page Future of Engineering report is available to view/download here.

The Future in 5 Words… #4: ‘Inclusive’

Why Work will be… ‘Inclusive’

#4V2Diversity is desirable; we know this. It is intrinsically linked to principles of fairness and respect, equality and human rights; with its arch nemesis Discrimination outlawed by state legislation and workplace regulation. This is not, however, why work will be inclusive in the near future: Inclusivity will be a matter of economic necessity. Why? Here follow two sample supporting arguments: one highlights a global megatrend; the other a sector-specific case study.

Firstly, according to the Global AgeWatch Index, the number of older persons (aged 60 years or over) is expected to more than double to 2.1bn by 2050, exceeding the number of children and constituting 21.5% of the population (1 in 5). In fact, in Switzerland, older persons already make up almost 1 in every 4 people (24%). This demographic cannot be ignored: either as human resource in itself, with people working later in life and organisations becoming increasingly age-friendly; or as a community of retirees dependent on the shrinking proportion of people in employment, whose rising productivity targets call for optimal labour levels.

Secondly, certain job markets are almost in crisis. Take for example the case of the construction industry in the UK, stuck with an image problem as the near-exclusive domain of middle-aged white males. At the last count, the sector was found to employ 2.1M people – enough to fill 262,500 double-decker buses – and yet, it is struggling with a looming skills gap, under pressure to find an additional 224,000 new hires by 2019. As well as attracting poor levels of young starters, school leavers, students and apprentices, plus a below-average proportion of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers, it is failing to recruit women. In terms of diversity, women make up 46% of the overall UK workforce but represent just 14.5% of the total in construction and a mere 1.2% in trades. For Construction, therefore, embracing Inclusivity is a must, not a mere nice-to-have.

This is why, in the future, work will be inclusive.

Tomorrow, a 5th Mystery Word: Why Life will be… ?

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‘Sustainability: Say the Words!’ is a series of aphoristic ‘thoughts and shorts’ appearing regularly throughout 2016 – feedback welcome via Email, or Twitter: @SustMeme.