Despite the big-name, high-profile infrastructure projects – Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and High Speed 2 rail link to name just two – and the news that the engineering sector generates around a quarter of the nation’s GDP, equating to approximately £420.5 billion, the issue of a skills shortage facing the industry does not appear to be going away any time soon.


Some years ago – five to be precise – we wrote an article about the gap in the labour market, yet since then not much seems to have changed in terms of either the numbers of engineers coming through the system or those still needed to meet future demand.


That almost three-quarters of businesses stated they were not confident there would be enough people with the skills to fill their high-skilled job vacancies should come as no surprise. The evidence gathered by Engineering UK in their 2018 publication, The State of Engineering, highlights that the vacancy ratio has remained at 2.6 vacancies for every 100 jobs filled.


In order for the UK to remain competitive and equipped to deal with the pace of technological and socio-economic change, this is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed, particularly if we want to see the kinds of infrastructure investment and progression that a modern-day economy needs. Just to deliver the proposed upgrades to the rail network, for example, a further 7,200 technical and engineering workers will be required by 2020.


As spring manufacturers, we continually keep a close eye on issues affecting the wider engineering sector. Here, we detail some of the key things that need to be addressed in the coming years.

Engineering for the Future

It is clear that to continue as we are and hope that the ingenuity of engineering will solve its own problems is not only unrealistic but also unlikely. The fact that we wrote on this subject half a decade ago and are in the same position today underlines this point.


The continued lack of certainty around a post-Brexit Britain doesn’t help matters; however, it is not sufficient to use that as a reason for not taking any action at all. Intervention is needed, and there are a number of steps that can be and, indeed, are being taken.


Surely a quick win would be for engineering as a discipline to tap into non-traditional sectors of the labour market and diversify its workforce. In 2016, women accounted for 46.9% of the overall working population in the UK, yet they represent less than a fifth of the engineering industry in general, and even less (12%) of the core and related-engineering roles.

Engineer at work

Diversity Still an Issue in Engineering

When the figures are examined, it shows that the number of women entering the field decreases at various stages; at secondary school level, the number of boys taking STEM subjects is almost twice that of girls, whilst even fewer women are making it through technical education. In England between 2015 and 2016, only 7.5% of engineering-related apprenticeships were completed by women.


This lack of diversity is not just restricted to gender: an even lower proportion of apprenticeships – 6.8% – in the field of engineering were completed by candidates of black or mixed ethnicity, despite this demographic making up 12% of the UK workforce. Work, therefore, needs to be done to understand what barriers are preventing significant diversity in the field of engineering.


The demand for skilled engineering labour has had a positive influence on remuneration; Engineering UK found that whilst the average salary in the UK in 2016 was £28,195, the median salaries of full-time employees working in engineering in 2016 range between £32,987 and £47,394. So from that perspective, it shouldn’t be that difficult to persuade those already of working age but not engaged in the labour market to make a transition into engineering, with the right support.

Young People and Engineering

Steps are being taken to increase the number of young people entering the educational pipeline towards engineering. The Technical and Further Education Act from 2017 aims to address this specific issue by looking at the perceived low value of many apprenticeship schemes, reducing or removing some of the complexities within the system itself and also compelling schools to improve the access for their students to Higher Education providers.


There is ongoing monitoring of the government-proposed framework for fifteen technical education routes for both employment-based and college-based training, an element of which includes the introduction of T-Levels. Delivered as part of the Post-16 Skills Plan, these proposed reforms will also include the creation of new apprenticeship standards and degree apprenticeships, the latter to assuage employers’ concerns that degree-led education does not place sufficient emphasis on practical or problem-solving skills.


Additional measures are also being taken to encourage young people to consider a career in engineering; the diversity of the profession, the comparatively higher average salaries, along with emerging new technologies and practices are all positive drivers.


Until the UK has fully agreed withdrawal terms from the EU, there will be continued uncertainty; however, it is becoming clearer by the day that engineering will not be able to rely on migrant labour to apply a temporary fix to the skills shortage. Therefore, a coherent and decisive plan must be put into place to ensure that an industry, which contributed £1.23 trillion of the £5.3 trillion total turnover generated by the UK in the financial year 2015-2016, not only survives but evolves.

Manufacturing is one of the most important sectors of the UK economy; we know this, as European Springs have been manufacturing high-quality springs and pressings for nearly 70 years. Because of this, it’s important to understand the trends that are occurring within the industry.


January saw a disappointing result in the manufacturing industry; the Office of National Statistics, or the ONS, reported that manufacturing output fell by just under one percent in January. In fact, the exact decrease was 0.9%, however, experts suggest that the reason for this downfall is because of the massive decrease in pharmaceuticals.

The pharmaceutical industry experienced a production decrease of 13.5% but the industry can be highly erratic. The good news is that, compared to January 2016, the total production output increased by 3.2%, with manufacturing as an entire sector having a production output increase of 2.7%.

From the same report, it was found that, when comparing the last quarter to the previous quarter, as of January 2017, the manufacturing sector’s total production also increased by 2.1%, which was found to be one of the biggest quarterly increases in under seven years.

With all these increases and decreases in production within the manufacturing sector, experts in the industry aren’t too concerned. Even though the pound is currently weaker than it was previously, this has provided an increase in exports; exports increased by 6.3% and imports also increased by 2.7%.

However, this doesn’t give us a clear indication of what the future of this industry will be like in the years to come. Currently, despite the decrease in manufacturing output, it is much better than previous months and the past year, and the reason for the decrease has been associated with the erratic nature of the pharmaceutical industry.

But we don’t know what the next set of results will provide for us. The next set of statistics that will be released by the ONS will focus on the index of production in February 2017, which will give us a better indication of how the sector is managing in our constantly changing economy.

Friday 10th March marked the start of one of the most popular educational weeks in the British calendar; British Science Week. It’s a week that is incredibly popular amongst children and adults across the UK, and it gives the chance for people to learn more about this discipline and understand why it is important. But what exactly is British Science Week?


The Purpose

The purpose of British Science Week is to encourage people of all ages to get involved in various scientific disciplines, such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – any STEM discipline.

It also tries to focus on engaging young people with these disciplines, as there is a real drive within the education system to encourage the development of future scientists.

Why is Science Important?

Science helps us to understand the world that we live in, and it also helps provide solutions to difficult problems in real life situations. They can manifest as simple things, such as working out how much force is required to lift an object, or something much more complex, such as determining the number of exoplanets that could harbour life.

Science-related disciplines are also very important to the UK economy. The aerospace industry in the UK is one of the largest in the world and contributes to over £20 billion each year, and the manufacturing industry accounts for a large proportion of the UK’s GDP.

It’s also important to understand that science and technology have been a massive part of the history of UK, with some of the world’s most important theories hailing from the UK, such as Isaac Newton’s laws of motion and gravity, and Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. As such, it is important to ensure that this is consistently maintained for the years to come.

What Happens in British Science Week?

Since the purpose of British Science Week is to encourage the younger generations to get involved in scientific disciplines, the most common thing that you see during British Science Week is different companies, associations, institutes, and groups hosting scientific activities.

For example, there are various places in London, such as the British Museum, Trafalgar Square, and the Hunterian Museum, that are hosting their own events to help promote science to the masses. Some of these events could be about any scientific discipline, such as astronomy, biology, engineering, mechanics, or technology, but they all share the same message; getting the younger generations involved.

There are also minor event days that occur during British Science Week; one of which is known as Demo Day, and it will be on Thursday 16th March this year. Demo Day is a yearly campaign that aims to inspire teachers and technicians to explore new concepts, encourage discussion, and generate excitement during science experiments. This has been a massive success, and we hope for it to continue for years to come.

As experts in the manufacturing sector, we understand the importance of British Science Week for the UK and for the younger generations, and we love to see young people following their dreams and paving their way in the scientific community; whether it is in engineering, manufacturing, or technology, we are all part of the same scientific principles.

The 10th National Apprenticeship Week has been taking place since the 6th March and will end on 10th March. Showcasing the importance of both apprenticeships and traineeships for the economy, businesses, and individuals, it highlights their overall positive impact.

Celebrating this success are both apprentices and employers from all over England, and hoping to encourage more people to enroll in fast-track apprenticeships.

Providing Great Skills

When entering a career in a technical industry, gaining the necessary experience is vital. With degrees not necessarily great as everyone’s method of learning, apprenticeships are a more hands-on approach that ensures skills are learned through working in top companies.

Gaining the experience and the qualifications needed to begin a chosen career is made easier especially for younger people, who have more job security and access to better job opportunities. With approximately 53% of male apprentices and 48% of female apprentices so far this year already starting their apprenticeships, it’s clear how young people view apprenticeships as the perfect gateway to a career.

Beneficial for Companies

Alongside providing people with expert skills, apprenticeships are also vital for companies. Employers wanting to take on young people and helping them to grow their skills in the industry utilise apprenticeships as gateways.

Cost effective and efficient, apprenticeships involve employers direct involvement, which aids them in finding and investing in people who are motivated to learn. With the government’s plan to increase the UK’s apprenticeships up to 3 million by 2020, closing the skills gap and ensuring the UK’s high level of competitiveness in the global economy is important.

The Future for All Industries

Aiming to be the most successful year for the National Apprenticeship Week, the event reinforces how vital apprenticeships are as the future of technical industries. These industries rely on a highly skilled workforce, which can be made more efficient when employers help young people to develop their skills from the beginning.

With apprentices being adaptable, apprenticeships drive people into becoming the employees that companies require. As these talented young people remain in the companies that invest in them, they become more motivated and more productive, which only increases the benefits for the employers.

European Springs at Careers Fair, West Thames College

We were invited by West Thames College in Isleworth to participate in their Careers fair, organised by college students with other local schools and local Job Centre attending. Wearing company t-shirts, we set up a recruiting banner and our official video in the background. Our Apprenticeship Scheme was highlighted by our visitors, particularly the ‘whole life career’ and pay scales.

Going to West Thames College Careers Fair was a positive experience, as we saw more than 20 visitors interested in engineering and who might submit their CVS for our consideration. Interest in European Springs and the Apprenticeship Scheme was visible, and we’re always proud to extend our visibility to young people interested in engineering careers.

As strong believers in investing in young people, at European Springs all of our springs and wire forms are of the highest quality, with our dedicated and expert team ensuring every detail is perfect. Look through our stock catalogue and let us know what solutions you need – including bespoke solutions!

Southern Manufacturing and Electronics is the UK’s largest regional manufacturing, technology, electronics, and subcontracting exhibition, which can provide you with the opportunity to meet some truly inspirational companies that work with some of the world’s largest businesses, companies, and industries.

This year, the exhibition is situated at FIVE, or the Farnborough International Venue and Events, and we have some excellent news. We will be there as well! That’s right, European Springs will be at the exhibition between 21 – 23 March 2017. We love being at exhibitions and conventions like these, and it’s just as important for businesses to attend as it is for clients. And here’s why!

Collaboration is Great for Company Growth

Working with a third party enables you and your company to learn new skills that can complement the ones you know already. A prime example of us working in collaboration with another company was when we worked with Fabric Architecture to help install large canopies over the retractable seating voids in West Ham’s London Stadium.

Working in a team of experts that work in a different industry to you means that you can gain new skills that you can implement in future projects, as well as help you, your colleagues, and your company grow. So, when meeting new contacts at these types of exhibitions is a great way to get the ball rolling for future collaborations.

You Can Develop a Reputation with Your Peers

Activity within your business is incredibly important, as it will provide you with the necessary skills to develop your reputation as an expert in the field. With this in mind, attending every opportunity within your industry is one of the best and most effective ways to building your reputation amongst your peers.

By attending the Southern Manufacturing and Electronics exhibition next month, it’s a great way to show the other exhibitors and future potential clients what we at European Springs are capable of, especially with some of the amazing case studies that we have been a part of this year.

Make Sure to Find Us at the Exhibition!

The exhibition is located in Farnborough in Hampshire. If you are travelling by car, take Junction 4 from the M3, and follow the A331 to Farnborough. After this, it’ll be easy to find the exhibition, as there will be signs navigating your way. If you are travelling by rail, there are coach shuttle services that will operate from the Farnborough Main and North Camp stations, ensuring that you will get to where you need to go.

At the exhibition itself, European Springs will be situated at stand J1, so make sure to come over and say hello to us! This exhibition is an important one for us, especially since we celebrate out 70th anniversary next year, so it is a fantastic early birthday present for us!

We love talking to new people and sharing our knowledge with our industry peers and experts in other forms of industry, and we cannot wait to be a part of this fantastic opportunity.

As specialist spring manufacturers, we understand the importance of the manufacturing sector, which is why we put all our care and consideration into what we do best.

Make sure to contact us if you have any questions, or you can check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest news and updates.

We’re looking forward to seeing you all in Farnborough!

Engineering superstars of the future are encouraged to apply for a fantastic opportunity which is hosted by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Entrepreneur First.


The ‘Future of Engineering‘ competition has been launched to help find upcoming engineering talent and provide a platform for them to grow their skills and ideas in order to become a successful part of such a  vast industry.

Why New Talent is So Crucial

The nature of engineering means that it is constantly evolving and, although there’s many skilled, established engineers in the industry already, it’s the addition of new, creative minds that propels the industry forward.

The future of engineering lies with the next generations and their new ideas and understanding of what the world needs as they grow. This isn’t to say that older engineers don’t understand innovation, they just might not see something in a way which younger engineers might!

With the right coaching and encouragement, the UK holds the key to some of the most forward thinking, creative engineering minds in the world.

The Competition

With the future of the industry in mind, teams at The Royal Academy of Engineering and Entrepreneur First have come up with a competition that is targeted towards student engineers, junior engineers and PHD candidates.

In order to apply, engineers must visit the competition’s website and submit some information about themselves. This includes what level of engineering they are currently at, as well as a little about their background.

Candidates will also be asked to cover what they are wanting to achieve in the engineering industry, and how their developed skills and ideas, coupled with their knowledge of engineering, will allow them to create something that will have a “profound and positive global impact”.

The lucky winner of the competition will receive £10,000 to put towards the idea that they pitch in their application, and a runner up will receive an equally impressive £5,000 to do the same. As the two organisations hosting the competition are invested in the future, both the winner and the runner up will be offered business and engineering mentoring from some of the best minds in the respective industries to help them make their ideas a reality.

This opportunity is one not to be missed, and we encourage any young engineers who follow our blog to apply – you never know, this might be the perfect step up in your career and help you and your ideas get noticed!

The Future of Engineering

Engineering often has the stigma of being very technical and boring to those who don’t understand the industry. While the nature of engineering is primarily technical, it doesn’t mean that engineers can’t be creative – how would we progress otherwise?

Creativity and ingenuity is crucial in our industry, and its what fuels innovation and future-proofing engineering masterpieces. By encouraging younger generations to come up with ideas and products on a platform such as this, we’re enabling our industry to move with the times and produce some integral pieces which could essentially revolutionise our world.

Here at European Springs, we’re excited to find out about the winning idea, and wish all entrants into the competition the best of luck!

If you’re looking for reliable, durable springs and wire forms, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our own engineering experts – we’ll be more than happy to help you in any way we can!


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