Just over four years ago in these pages we published a piece on the future of engineering and six exciting areas you could choose to work in.

The piece said:

“A career in engineering offers unlimited possibilities if you’re an apprentice, training to be an engineer or just considering your options. Here are six of the most exciting engineering fields that will be growing for years to come.”

Those fields were environmental engineering, aerospace engineering and space travel, healthcare, robotics, 3D printing, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Well, here we are on the cusp of another new year and always at this time experts give their verdicts on the next 12 months in their industry. Indeed, these pieces have already begun to be published and engineering, in all its many forms, is no exception.

In a high-level piece on Linkedin, four of the above engineering fields were listed. In another piece in The Engineer’s special supplement on tech trends for 2024, at least three of our original list were mentioned. For many of these disciplines it’s clear that while they may be trends for the future, that future is already here. Some are no longer seen as ‘emerging’ but have already arrived.

The importance of digital

What’s clear is that in almost all of these ‘crystal ball’ type pieces, filling the skills gaps is a topic and it has been well documented that skills gaps in engineering and construction is an ongoing issue. In 2019, digitisation had started, but we now definitely live in a digital world and the impact and rising importance of digital is seen in every sector. As The Engineer writes in its supplement:

“Over the course of the past ten years or so industrial digitalisation has moved from being a somewhat nebulous, buzzword-heavy concept to arguably the single-most important trend driving development across all sectors of industry.”

It also suggest that STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths are more important than ever. They pervade every aspect of our daily lives and have helped to shape the world we live in and because of this are a valuable part of the UK and the world’s economy now shaping what’s known as ‘Industry 4.0’ and influence every nation’s industrial strategy, including the UK.

Increasing investment

Many engineering sectors are also becoming more prominent and receiving substantial attention.

For example, in November, the Government announced £4.5bn funding boost for clean energy firms, aerospace companies and car makers to support the development of zero emission vehicles, as well as more energy efficient aircraft equipment. More than £500m has been given to the life sciences sector, with another £960m also committed to a green industries growth accelerator plan. Projects covering carbon capture, hydrogen, nuclear energy and offshore wind would all be able to apply for funding as part of the plan to support clean energy.

Even if the government changes over the next year, the commitment to these kind of initiatives does not depend on the party in power. The above is just a snapshot of the opportunities available in the years to come for engineers or people considering engineering as a career.

Engineers shape the world

The world is changing rapidly and engineers are at the vanguard of its transformation. They are participants, they make things happen. Engineers must be critical and creative; curious and capable and if that’s you, then an engineering apprenticeship might be seen in your crystal ball in 2024. Over the next few months we will examine some of the types of engineering that exists and how TTE can help set you on your way.

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