The Future of Engineering in Scotland
Since 2010 we have seen a big change within manufacturing and engineering in Scotland. In years gone by Scotland has been a manufacturing hub for many national and international organisations. However, due to cheap outsourcing options across the globe, we have seen a decline in the bigger manufacturing plants in Scotland. A long line of major manufacturing organisations has left Scotland in recent years, including the closure of Jabil earlier this year. Coupled with a declining oil and gas market it is no wonder that people are curious as to what will happen with the traditional engineering market in Scotland.
With increasing investment in new technology startups a lot of the focus has been taken away from traditional engineering businesses. With growing manufacturing sectors like Energy, Life Sciences and Food & Drink, there is now a situation where engineers are moving away from the more ‘heavy’ engineering businesses into these growing sectors. So, it is not all doom and gloom - Scotland still has a lot of opportunities for the more traditional engineers.
The food and drink sector in Scotland will only continue to grow, particularly the drinks industry. In 2016 food and drink exports from Scotland were at a record £5.5bn, a growth of £421m. With more and more businesses expanding their operations there has been a significant increase in demand for skill sets such as mechanical, electrical and maintenance engineers.
Looking at Energy, Scotland has seen this industry grow significantly over the last few years. With the industry employing over 50,000 people it is no surprise that there has been a demand for traditional engineering expertise across it’s sectors, with the largest being onshore wind.
The life science industry in Scotland is another area where we will undoubtedly see an increasing demand for heavy engineering skill sets. There are currently over 700 life sciences companies operating out of Scotland and it is predicted that the industry could be worth £8bn by 2025. This, coupled with the fact there are over 37,000 people employed in the industry, shows just how prominent the sector is becoming.
Although we have seen a rise in demand of traditional engineering into these growing sectors, Scotland still has a very buoyant traditional engineering sector that supplies goods and services worldwide. The bad news from the sector, such as BiFab going into administration, is hard to avoid, but on the positive side we hear news of Scottish engineering contractor EnerMech securing a £2.5m deal with the Royal Navy which will certainly create jobs going forward.
Scotland’s industries will undoubtedly continue to require traditional engineering skill sets. However, we will certainly see a shift in the industries employing such skill sets. With a long-standing and well-earned reputation within manufacturing and engineering Scottish businesses and engineers must be open to change.