Construction Work Ahead; Engineers in Great Demand as Swing to Science Intensifies
Byline: MARGARET MCALPINE
CAREER opportunities in science and engineering, which are already excellent, look set to become even better over the next decade. The Engineering Council calculates a demand for an extra 270,000 engineering professionals over the next 10 years.
The Government-funded UK Foresight Programme, established to develop visions for the future and to build bridges between science, business and government, emphasises the role that scientists and technologists will continue to play in dealing with a wide range of complex issues.
These include the management and development of urban environment and transport systems, balancing energy and environmental needs and meeting the health requirements of the aged.
Career openings in science are many and varied, covering areas as diverse as forensic science and food technology. Engineering offers an equally extensive range of career areas including mechanical, marine, chemical, environmental, civil and structural engineering.
Opportunities to work abroad are excellent and are growing steadily, and many universities, recognising this potential, now offer science and engineering undergraduates the chance to study or work abroad as part of their degree courses.
Top engineering and scientific employers include the NHS, Nestle UK, Unilever and BAE Systems.
These and other companies are looking for scientists and engineers with sound technical skills. But they also want recruits with other skills and qualities.
Richard Smith, chief executive of the Science, Technology and Mathematics Council, the national training organisation, says: 'Employers are looking for technical ability, multidisciplinary skills, problem-solving and management skills.' Lucy Neal, 25, began working for Nestle UK in 1999, after completing her master's degree in chemical process engineering and fuel technology at Sheffield university.
She works as a project engineer at the coffee production plant near Burton on Trent, Staffordshire.
She says: 'I spent a year in industry before going to university.
'I am working on several projects, and there are great opportunities with Nestle.
'Anyone thinking of a career in this field should find a work placement or job-shadowing opportunity to get practical experience.' Courses: There is a bewildering array of science and engineering degree courses on offer. Many include a year's work placement, resulting in valuable contacts, increased awareness of career opportunities and, in some cases, the offer of a job after graduation.
The trend towards globalisation means that scientists and engineers will be working increasingly on multinational projects. Combined and joint degrees in subjects that 20 years ago would have seemed ludicrous - such as chemistry with French, or manufacturing engineering with Italian or Japanese - are becoming popular because they place graduates in a good position for jobs.
Information technology is now a vital part of all science and engineering courses, with students being expected to make use of computerassisted learning materials.
There is also a choice to be made between studying for a three-year undergraduate course leading to a bachelor's degree, and four or five years of study at the same university leading to a master's degree. This is especially suited to students hoping to make a career in research.
Entry requirements vary, though many engineering courses require A-levels or an equivalent qualification in maths and physics. …