Engineering design

Getting in

Do you like solving problems and working in a team?

Do you enjoy drawing and design or you just like making things work?

Then a career in engineering design might be for you.

Key facts

  • Advanced engineering has an ageing workforce and the sector really needs young people. There are skill shortages in most engineering subjects.
  • To work in engineering you really need to like maths and science and to enjoy finding solutions to challenging problems. You also need to be practical and a good communicator and be well organised, resourceful and well motivated. 
  • The engineering sector is the second biggest employer in the South West, nearly 130,000 people work in it.
  • Oxford and Thames Valley include a number of car manufacturers whilst Solent is looking for engineers for marine and maritime activity.

Routes into this sector

There are various types of qualifications available at different levels.

There are jobs in this sector which require few qualifications to start where you will receive training on the job through an apprenticeship or vocational course at a college, but some jobs you will need a HND, foundation degree, or degree, for example to do aerospace engineering.

Companies need people with a range of different skills, from practical problem solvers, to creative designers and mathematicians and have an eye for detail to design and programme systems and test reliability of products.

The introduction of robots into the manufacturing process has changed the types of jobs that are available with engineers requiring higher level skills.

Skills shortages identified in the advanced engineering sector include:

  • Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine operations
  • Computer aided design (CAD)
  • Computer aided engineering or manufacturing (CAM)

Read the Guide to UK Engineering – Hints, Tips and Job Opportunities

To find out more about career opportunities in the motor industry - Visit the Autocity site. 

Autocity now lists apprenticeship vacancies with Mercedes Benz, Ford, Daf, Scania, Kia and over 900 independents.  

Use the Course Search

Use the relevant search options on our Course Search to find college and university courses as well as vacancies for apprenticeships.

More help finding courses and training

Do a free, short, online course to find out more (looks great on your CV too!)

Future Learn have lots of free, short, online courses that will improve your knowledge of this job sector and improve your chances of landing your dream job. See what courses related to engineering are on offer.

Spotlight on engineering degrees

A degree in engineering will give you a head start when it comes to starting a well paid and interesting career. In demand with employers, you may find that you can earn money whilst you are studying through sponsorship by large employers, and they may even guarantee you a job when you graduate.  

Mathematics is an integral part of the study of engineering regardless of which branch you might choose. Its important that you achieve a good grade in GCSE maths, physics and also in mathematical subjects at either A level or in other level 3 subjects such as BTEC Engineering. If you have A level Further Maths that will be a huge advantage to your degree.

Choosing an engineering degree course

It's important to give some serious thought to what area of engineering you want to work in. Try and work out which parts of physics, chemistry or maths you enjoy as these modules will tie in with specific engineering degrees. For instance if you like learning about circuits then you might like Electrical Engineering. 

Some courses have close links with companies and they may offer you sponsorship opportunities or will pay for you to work in the summer or for a placement year. You might even have the chance to work abroad as part of your degree. Most companies would rather a graduate with relevant work experience.

You will also need to decide if you are going to start on a 3 year Bachelors in Engineering [BEng] degree or a four year Masters in Engineering [MEng] degree. The MEng will normally have higher entrance requirements and be 4 years rather than 3 years. Be aware that some large employers prefer to recruit from an MEng. Also check whether your course is accredited by the relevant professional institution eg ICE - the Institute of Civil Engineers. This will mean as well as working towards your degree you will also be working towards Chartered Professional Engineer status.

Make sure you visit the universities and check out their facilities as some have had some fantastic investment and have close links with industry and research opportunities after your degree.

Studying engineering

You are likely to be taught in a variety of ways, including some practical methods. Depending on the course, you will have lectures, seminars, tutorials, laboratory work, case studies and mini-projects with a mixture of group and individual activities.

Part-time students

Some engineering courses are available to study on a part-time day release basis meaning you work and study. A key benefit of studying part-time means you can put your learning directly into practice, and where possible you can use work-related problems in projects. 

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