What Does the Mechanical Engineering Industry Look Like in 2021?
2020 was challenging for most industries, but particularly those that had to tackle enforced shutdowns and supply shortages. With many projects hit by delays and cancellations, the mechanical engineering industry definitely faced difficulties.
As the sector turns its gaze to the future, we’ve investigated what the mechanical engineering industry looks like now, and what the next few years might hold.
The Effects of the Pandemic
The industry struggled with cancellations, delays and other disruptions from the beginning of the crisis, with 89% of VDMA members reporting adverse effects due to the pandemic by mid-April 2020. These issues led to capacity reductions for many organisations.
However, engineering responded to the change in working conditions by adapting and converting to home working where possible. Members of the engineering sector also worked directly to mitigate the effects on society as a whole, with IMechE setting up its own Covid-19 task force to tackle issues caused by the pandemic.
Bouncing Back in 2021
Mechanical engineering is gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels, with some large companies such as GE, Johnson Controls and 3M actively investing in and increasing their teams.
The market is seeing an increase in talent with skills in industrial engineering and data analysis, reflecting the needs of businesses.
As hiring demand increases, so too have salaries, with an average 5% increase.
What Does the Future Look Like for Mechanical Engineering?
The main challenge to be overcome in the next few years is staff shortages, with concerns about the number of graduates entering the field. A 2019 report by the Institution of Engineering Technicians found that 80% of UK engineering companies thought that access to talent would become more of a challenge over the next 3-5 years. There is an emphasis on improving the gender imbalance within engineering and incentivising those in the infancy of their careers.
Engineering remains a key sector in the UK, and demand for skilled mechanical engineers is expected to grow over the next few years, with Terry Spall, the President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, stating that 200,000 more engineers are needed annually for the shortfall.