Workforce trends

Published in July 2022, this briefing looks at trends in the workforce from 2010 to 2021, for both engineering industries and occupations. It explores changes in the composition of the workforce in terms of occupation groups and regions of employment, showing a shift away from manufacturing and construction to more service-based industries such as information and communications and professional services. It then looks at diversity in the workforce, in terms of gender, ethnicity, country of birth and age, showing that improvements have been made over this period. This is reflected in the increasingly diverse sociodemographic characteristics of engineering employees, however, engineering remains less diverse than the overall workforce.

In this report we explore the overall trends in employment from 2010 to 2021, for both engineering industries and occupations. In the first section, we explore the trends over time including by region and occupation group. In the second, we look more closely at the characteristics of employees in engineering occupations, by gender, ethnicity, age, country of birth and socioeconomic group.

Our analysis shows clear changes in the industrial composition of engineering, with a shift away from manufacturing and construction to more service-based industries such as information and communications and professional services. Over the last decade, the composition of the engineering workforce has also become increasingly diverse, though some groups such as women remain significantly underrepresented compared to the wider labour force.

Overall employment trends in engineering industries and occupations

Engineering industries:

  • the overall number of employees in the engineering industry was around 6.6 million in 2010, increasing to 7.6 million by 2019 and then seeing a downturn to 6.9 million by 2021
  • more than 40% of people working in engineering worked in manufacturing industries and a further 24% worked in construction at the start of this period, equalling around 4.4 million employees. The percentage working in both declined over the decade, as did the number of employees to around 4 million

Engineering occupations:

  • employment in engineering occupations (including engineering jobs in non-engineering industries) grew by 8.5% between 2010 and 2021
  • between 2018 and 2019 engineering occupations grew by 6.1% before falling back by 10.2% in 2019 and 2021, during the Covid-19 pandemic. In comparison, other occupations grew by 3.7% in the year leading up to Covid-19 before falling by 8.1% between 2019 and 2021

Download the report here