How to Armour Plate our National Technician Workforce

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The national technician workforce is well over 1.5 million people, with the majority working on factory shop floors. Engineers and technicians are responsible for the design and manufacture of almost all products we use in our lives. Estimates state that due to an ageing workforce, 50,000 of our most skilled technicians retire every year. Fewer young people are undertaking roles on the shop floor and many graduates lack the experience employers are looking for. Other predictions show that we will need 700,000 new technicians and trade people to meet the industry demands. 

The engineering sector is constantly growing and businesses are getting bigger. We need more people to become involved with technical work and manufacturing to maintain growth. Here are some important considerations for why technician jobs are vital in the after-Brexit period. Skill up for the opportunities ahead!

SEE ALSO: Why Should We Invest in Engineering Innovation and Education?

Good Communications Between Engineers and Technicians

There need to be good clear communications between the engineers and the technicians. The latter will often run machines or manually produce a part or a whole product. If a design engineer is not aware of how the manufacturing of the part is to be done, then it might not be possible for him to do the drawings in the first place. It is therefore vital that engineers have proper shop floor experience so they can correctly communicate their design to the people who will ultimately be responsible for producing it.

Technician Jobs are Future Proofed

A common belief is that new machines are replacing skilled labourers and technicians because we make less products manually. It is true that more computer controlled machines are present in factories than ever before, however the technician’s role is not obsolete. The role may have changed slightly over the years, but technicians are still just as important as ever. They are now often responsible for programming, maintaining and controlling the quality output of the machines. 

spaceX technician factory floor

SpaceX Factory © Jatkins

Life is rarely made up of one skill set. Often qualified engineers add design, construction, testing and then there are over 1495 areas of specialisation and other skill sets to enable them to project manage their chosen life skill vocations. This is just for mechanical engineering, then there are electronics, micro and nano engineering, and now even quantum engineering, so the notion that employment will get less as a result of better automated engineering is a nonsense.

Technicians Get Top Dollar Money

Cultural stereotypes surround pretty much everything in our lives and jobs are no exclusion. Any stereotypes you may have heard about technicians and shop floor workers being working class or dead-end low pay are not true. In fact, due to demand companies pay technicians very well. They develop unique technical skills that you can’t simply learn in a classroom but gain through years of practical experience. This leads to a high level of job satisfaction, pride and ultimately better pay. It is true that many businesses require more technicians than engineers, but this does not make the job of the engineer superior in any way.

SEE ALSO: Ramifications of the Brexit News: Skills Gap

Hands-on Experience Leads to a Safer Future

Something that schools and universities often lack is hands-on experience. Working as a technician gives you real physical jobs that need completing, like installation, repairs and most importantly, manufacturing. The hands-on nature of shop floor work is important for the business overall. Everyone should seek some form of practical experience, ultimately leading to more productive work and better pay.

Adding Value to Yourself

For arguments sake, you want to be a design engineer, not a technician. In the company you want to work for there are ten technicians for every engineer. Therefore it may be more likely that your way into the business is through the shop floor. If you already have an engineering qualification and have now added shop floor experience to that, you will become more valuable to the business. You will find it much easier to ask for a promotion into the position of your choice now that you have a better practical and theoretical knowledge of the manufacturing processes. Whilst you are on the shop floor, you might change your mind and wish to stay. If not, you certainly haven’t wasted your time.

This would lead us to conclude that:

For employers:

  • Investing in your workforce skill sets will soften any fall out from Brexit.
  • You may need to think of extending retirement ages if skill gaps are not met in the next 10  to 15 years.
  • Apply now to ensure you are approved as a registered employer for key overseas skilled workers, you won’t just be able to rely on Poland anymore.
  • Partner with universities and schools to develop the training programmes needed by your business and plan ahead.

SEE ALSO: Is it still Cheaper to Use European Manufacturers after Brexit?

For employees:

  • Don’t wait for your boss to give you a raise, if you add one skill set now you could earn up to and more than £5,000 per year per skill. Distance learning and training programs will pay back in under 12 months and government loans and sponsorship make them very affordable.
  • Even an operator licence of new tools can make a difference of £1,500 per year especially if you don’t mind working away from home on occasion. 
  • Well-skilled individuals will always be in high demand and command good pay grades. These people will be in even shorter supply in 5 years from now when Brexit is finalised, the harder it is the more employers are going to pay to have you on their teams.

For Entrepreneurs:

The work load for warehousing and logistics is going to quadruple, automation can only handle so much. Logistics, labour for hire, plant and machinery and some areas of manufacturing will come back into viability or hit new highs in profitability. The harder the Brexit the more home-grown chances will be created. We don’t see that many, if any, countries will throw as much resource at international trade as China, but their success may lead to ever greater investment and employment prospects here in the UK. India may well become our new China in the near future.

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