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Key industry trends for engineering and manufacturing
Like most industries, technological advances are rapidly transforming the engineering and manufacturing sector.
Industry 4.0, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is enabling businesses to utilise advanced technological capabilities throughout the entire product lifecycle, resulting in increased visibility into operations, substantial cost savings and faster production times.
With this shift comes a new wave of engineering and manufacturing jobs and in-demand skills. Here, we delve into the current state of the industry and the key trends shaping the future of employment in the sector.
The state of engineering and manufacturing in Australia
According to data from Job Outlook, the number of engineering professionals in the industrial sector has been stable in recent years, shifting from 30,200 workers in 2014 to 30,100 in 2019. Manufacturing made up the largest proportion of employment in the industry, accounting for 35.7% of the industrial manufacturing workforce.
Looking forward to 2024, the number of workers in the industrial engineering sector is expected to remain largely unchanged. However, the long-term effects of COVID-19 remains to be seen, and could impact employment in the coming months and years.
But if history has taught us anything, it’s that the industry is remarkably resilient in the face of tough market conditions. Australian manufacturing, in particular, has prevailed despite several challenges over the past decade, including the 2008 global financial crisis, unfavourable exchange rates, the rapid rise of manufacturing in China and increases in energy and material costs.
During these periods, employment remained steady, demonstrating that the sector may well remain buoyant despite future economic uncertainty.
In-demand manufacturing and engineering skills
As engineering and manufacturing companies move toward technology-led operational processes, employers are seeking professionals with the right skills to drive successful transformation and boost the bottom line. These skills include:
Maximising efficiency and minimising waste are key focuses for businesses looking to increase their profit margins. Companies are seeking employees who can systematically drive value, reduce wastage costs and improve manufacturing processes. In particular, experience with lean methodologies – such as Six Sigma Black Belt, developed by American engineer Bill Smith – are highly sought after.
Change and transformation management
As technology reshapes the sector, businesses are looking for change-driven and skilled strategic decision-makers who can help shift direction through innovation, uptake of new technologies and agile work processes.
While brands vie to be first to market with innovative new products and increase market share on existing products, demand is high for talent with new product development expertise – particularly among food and beverage companies.
In light of technological advancements and industry-wide process automation, there is a need for businesses to manage processes more efficiently than ever. As such, companies are looking for professionals with the skills to design processes that increase output and lower production costs.
In a rapidly changing environment, the ability to adapt to new situations, projects and ways of working is critical. Demonstrating you can easily switch focus when required will help prove long-term value to prospective employers.
The top jobs in engineering and manufacturing
According to the 2020 Michael Page Salary Guide, professionals in the engineering and manufacturing sector can expect to receive a 5% to 10% salary increase when switching jobs. The top five roles in the sector are as follows:
1. Production Manager
2. Engineering Manager
3. Operations Manager
4. Maintenance Manager
5. Mechanical Engineer