The Institution of Engineers in Scotland (IES)

The Professional Engineer - Promoting professional engineering

Rotterdam harbour

Career Information


The Engineering UK 2018/19 Report identifies that 61% of engineering, science and high tech companies are finding it difficult to recruit people with the right STEM skills and that engineering, science, research and technology skills shortage vacancies were in recent years the highest of all job sectors in the UK.

School student take-up rates in Science GCE’s in 2017/18 show substantial increases e.g. 23% increase in Biology, 18.6% in Chemistry and a 17.3% increase in Physics. After climbing year on year since 2011 GCSE Engineering entries however fell by 29% in 2018 which a serious concern. (Engineering UK Report Facts and Figures, Section 4).  Entries in Scotland 2016/17 National 5 shows Biology up 1%, Chemistry down 3.8%, Physics down by 4.9% and Maths up by 1% which trend, we hope, will change going forward (Engineering UK Figure 4b)

They estimated an increase in overall engineering sector graduate vacancies during 2014 of 19.7% which was good news for those then at university and industry today continues to face a shortage of engineering graduates.

Notably, the number of 18 year olds will drop in the UK by 9% between 2012 and 2022. This is also good news for school students as competition for university places in engineering may reduce (see Part 1 Section 4 of the Engineering UK 2016 Report).

2.5 million job openings across the engineering sector are projected  to arise between 2014 and 2024 representing 17.1% of expected vacancies across all industries in the UK. Around 2.3 million jobs will be to replace workers who are leaving the workforce while the remaining 250,000 will be new engineering jobs.  Around 440,000 places will be for engineers with Level 4 (Highers qualifications and above) skills as the UK is progressively upskilling in engineering sector.

Strong expansion is predicted (see Engineering UK Report, Section 10.2) in:

Electricity/Gas/Energy  30.5%
Informatics and Communications (IT, Computing, etc.)   30.2%
Construction  29%


The employment opportunities and high financial rewards are out there in Professional Engineering for all high school students who take Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics ( STEM ) as their main subjects. Although there may be increasingly keen competition for university places as a result of increasing STEM study, the number of 18 year olds will be reducing between now and 2022 which may offset this.