The future of the chemical sector

You may have seen the recent ‘Engineering UK 2013’ report which showed that the Chemical sector in the UK is set to grow rapidly over the next 6 – 7 years.  Having dedicated our career to the industry it is pleasing to know that the hard work is paying off and that we are now working in a sector that is at the global forefront for products and processes!

However, the same report highlighted that for the industry to maintain its position and growth potential that we will need 870,000 graduate Engineers and even more scientists to enter the industry each year.  This is against a backdrop of only 46,000 engineering related university places currently available.

So on one hand, we as professionals within this industry are in a great position – the sectors growth outweighs demand so our job security is assured and then there is also the career opportunities that will be available to us in the coming years.

On the other, this is only attainable if we can attract the volume of new entrants into the industry that is required. Something we won’t be able to do if can’t get the next generation interested and excited about Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.

We are working within an aging economy and sector, and at this point it’s our passion for our work that gives us a point of difference from other sectors, but we do have a massive challenge ahead. And this is what I wanted to speak about.

The company I work for helps people find jobs, our statistic show us though that if we haven’t found someone a job in the area they studied in within 3 years of completing their qualification, they are over 70% less likely to ever work in that profession.

The Government have also recognised that they have an aging working population and realise the disparity between the working population and our struggling young people is a potential time bomb so are now encouraging apprentice schemes as well as other incentive schemes for the 16-24 year old NEETs in a bid to address this issue. But we ALL have a part to play in raising the profile of the Chemical industry!

My request to you is that we all seize what is clearly an opportunity to make a difference both to our industry and to the economy as a whole.  The UK has 3 of the top chemistry universities in the whole world.  Not bad for a little Island eh?  So let’s build on this reputation, build on this demand for our skills and build on this talent.  Let’s make it part of our everyday life to encourage the next generation of scientists to come and work in our industry.

If your business operates an industrial placement program, get involved, if it doesn’t, ask yourself and the MD, why not?  If you work for a smaller company that can’t support a program like this, can you give some of your time to advise the next generation about the opportunities open to them.  If you are given any opportunity to promote this profession, please take it.

So listen when I say, we work in an industry that shapes peoples lives.  Without chemists we wouldn’t have life saving drugs, without chemists we wouldn’t have fuel to power out cars,  houses, schools and hospitals, without chemists we wouldn’t have modern agriculture enabling us to put food on our tables. Let’s take this opportunity to fly the flag of the industry to young people and positively support the next wave of chemists and scientists however we can.


If you would like to discus this subject with me in further detail please click here for my contact details.