Technology is moving at an ever more rapid pace. Demand for robotics and automation is massively outstripping supply. At the core of this is an insidious problem that only students willing to engage in STEM studies can solve.

Industry, car production, healthcare, logistics and global giants such as Amazon have an insatiable appetite for systems that can help them work faster, cleaner and more cost effectively.

To put this in context, according to market intelligence company Tractica, by the year 2022 robotics will have increased in value to a mind-boggling $237 billion worldwide. (The Robotics Industry Will Reach $237 Billion in Revenue Worldwide by 2022)

Taking this one step further and looking at the value of Artificial Intelligence to the global economy, by 2030 PwC’s prediction is that it will be worth $15.7 trillion. That’s the equivalent of adding together the current output of both China and India. (PwC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study)

With so much emphasis on technological advancement in manufacturing, there has never been a more exciting time to become an engineering apprentice.

Skillset Changes

The skills needed in engineering have altered dramatically in recent years.

Technology has changed both the way engineering companies work and the expectations of clients commissioning projects from them.

Clients demand that their engineering services and products use technology to create flawless work, within tight price constraints.

This means that the race is on to develop and apply Artificial Intelligence and the latest intuitive software. This enables engineering companies to carry out their own innovation and improvements, to produce finished results with greater speed and agility.

Funding for Innovation

To further illustrate what an incredibly exciting prospect it is for modern-day engineering companies and their apprentices, demand for innovation is backed by serious spend.

Investors are ready and waiting for the right concepts and teams with the credentials to bring them to reality. For example, in the first quarter of 2018, investors contributed $2.3billion to a total of 88 robotics start-ups.

It’s not just the cash to back new concepts that is plentiful. Universities, including ones in the UK, are eager to work with industry to find and nurture STEM talent. Joint working creates not just amazing education and training opportunities, but also hotbeds for new ideas and tomorrow’s technology.

Skills Crisis

Despite all this incredible promise and development in modern day engineering, there’s a problem; one it shares with all global industry and technology.

STEM skills are in short supply, particularly to enable AI developments.

To show the size of the gap, the UK Commission for Employment & Skills has reported that 43% of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) jobs are now classified as hard to fill. (What is the UK doing about its STEM skills shortfall?)

Relating this AI in engineering and technology, globally it’s believed there are around 22,000 PhD-level computer scientists of the calibre required to build AI systems. However, only approximately 3,000 of those are believed to be actively looking for employment, making them accessible to the global companies who are hungry for their expertise. (Sky-High Salaries Are the Weapons in the AI Talent War)

The USA is a leading light in the worldwide development of new engineering and technology capabilities. Yet in this country alone, there are more than 10,000 jobs connected to AI that are proving impossible to fill.

Looking at the UK’s skill shortfall, job site Indeed published survey findings that showed since 2014 there has been a 485% increase in AI job vacancies. This represents a 2 to 1 ratio between jobs available and the number of candidates in the UK able to fill them. (The Rise of the Machines? Huge Growth in Artificial Intelligence Jobs in Britain)

Even if engineering and technology companies manage to fill their STEM vacancies, they constantly face the risk of losing key personnel to companies with deep pockets.

How Subcon Laser has Responded

One of the effects of this skill crisis is that small but ambitious tech-supported engineering companies have had to up their game.

Midlands-based laser cutting expert Subcon Laser is taking robust action to address these skill shortfalls. This includes recruiting and nurturing engineering trainees and providing them with the skills and knowledge required to help them succeed in a high tech manufacturing environment.

As we are a family firm, we pride ourselves on creating a great team spirit and making everyone feel appreciated and valued. We offer employment packages providing attractive incentives but also individualised job support. Many trainees find it reassuring to be working in a smaller team where they are “noticed” more and can get immediate, friendly help at every stage.

It can also be attractive to be at the “start” of things – being part of project teams innovating and producing new, improved services and products.

That’s not to say the work to nurture and support staff begins and ends with engineering trainees. We focus on developing the skills of our entire workforce, constantly. This enables us to keep up to pace with the increasing demands of our clients and offers opportunities to be part of our continuing success story.

If you would like more information about Subcon Laser’s capabilities – call us today.