The Engineering Industry: Jobs, Skills, Trends and Job Outlook
Engineering is the application of scientific and technical knowledge and expertise - including calculations, analysis and design - to produce cost-effective, efficient solutions to real world problems.
Engineering methods and techniques can be successfully employed in a wide range of fields. Traditionally, the four main branches of engineering are:
- Chemical engineering: uses the principles of chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics to turn raw materials into usable products, such as plastics, petrochemicals and medicine
- Civil engineering: deals with the planning, design and construction of buildings (houses, apartment blocks, office towers, schools and hospitals) and infrastructure (roads, railways, bridges, water systems, power plants, dams, ports and airports)
- Electrical engineering: deals with the processes and facilities used in or connected with the generation, transformation and transmission of electricity, electronic equipment and machinery, telecommunication systems, computers etc.
- Mechanical engineering: deals with the design and production of mechanical components, equipment and systems of varying degrees of complexity used in a wide range of industrial fields/sectors/branches of industry
- Computer engineering: deals with the design, development and management of IT systems, software and telecommunication networks.
Scientific advancements and industrial progress have opened up whole new fields of application for engineering and led to the emergence of a range of new cross-cutting engineering disciplines and subgroups, including mechatronic engineering, bioengineering, biomedical nanotechnology, aerospace engineering and systems engineering.
What types of businesses operate in the Engineering industry?
Engineers are employed by a vast variety of companies of all types and sizes, from small start-ups to established multinationals, e.g. by mechanical engineering and mechatronics companies, technology companies, robotics and industrial automation businesses, construction firms, energy companies, automobile manufacturers, and in the aerospace, shipbuilding, information technology, telecommunications, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Job advertisements for engineers may also be published by engineering consultancy firms, who help businesses and other organizations rationalize and optimize their processes and adopt the latest technologies, as well as by public and private research and development laboratories, government agencies and universities.
Companies hiring in the engineering sector:
Engineering - Job Outlook
Engineering is a sector experiencing significant growth and offering excellent career prospects, very competitive salary packages and job security. However, aspiring engineers are required to have completed what is a challenging course of study (i.e. an engineering degree) and possess extensive technical and scientific expertise, which needs to be continuously updated.
Technological developments are revolutionizing the engineering sector, with new challenges calling for increasingly innovative solutions. The emergence of new technologies, combined with an ever-expanding field of application, is reflected in a rise in demand for engineers.
A number of disciplines in particular are becoming increasingly important. These include include robotics and nanotechnology, smart sensors (for the Internet of Things), virtual and augmented reality, bioinformatics engineering, supermaterials, innovative fibres and renewable energy generation.
What skills are required in the Engineering industry?
The Engineering sector contains a vast number of different branches and disciplines, each with their own specific knowledge and skills. However, there are a series of transverse skills required by all engineers:
Engineering is often perceived as the “problem-solving” profession - which is exactly what it is! Engineers are always looking for new ways of applying knowledge and using logical, rational processes to solve problems.
Many of the typical tasks of an engineer are performed on a computer, using special engineering software and applications. So whether they’re optimizing production processes or logistics, designing and testing components or modelling the behaviour of a prototype, computer skills are an essential requirement.
Communication skills and team work
Whether they are part of a team with other technical personnel or leading one as a project manager, the ability to work as part of a group and to convey technical content in a clear, effective manner are very important for engineers.
Planning and organizational skills
A career as an engineer typically requires the ability to manage complex projects featuring a wide pool of resources and a large number of people. Engineers therefore need to possess strong planning, organizational and project management skills.