Transferable skills are critical to smooth career transitions
Change is inevitable in any profession driven by innovation and technology. Engineering professionals are watching the transformation of their industry by developments in AI, digitalisation, and the adoption of sustainable practices, just to name a few.
How can engineers prepare for changes ahead and ensure their careers can evolve as the needs of the market shift? Unfortunately, there’s no roadmap for what lies ahead, but engineers should look at how to apply their expertise and skills in new ways so that they can be ready for new opportunities.
Engineers are needed wherever problems need solving
At its heart, engineering is about finding creative solutions to problems. Engineers today must take a more diverse approach to problem-solving, with a broader view of the kinds of issues they can tackle.
More than 30% of organisations surveyed by The Institution of Engineering and Technology said complex problem-solving skills are a concern in hiring. And every area of engineering will go through changes, either in how fast things develop or the tools needed to accomplish the work. Diversification will help keep engineers at the forefront of changes in the market, especially those who learn to apply their existing knowledge in new, dynamic ways.
Change echoes across job markets
Sometimes world events push innovation forward. For example, engineers working in biochemistry or pharmaceuticals may have gone from seeing slower developments in drug development to moving rapidly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other drivers of change include sustainability, financial technology, and artificial intelligence.
Sustainability is a significant driver as companies and countries work to regenerate and conserve energy and meet net-zero goals. In many cases, organisations are playing catch-up, which will create shifts in the engineering job market. Nearly 65% per cent of companies surveyed by IET think sustainability will become more important to their organisation in the next five years.
Where else might engineers find new opportunities based on global changes? In another example, the COVID-19 pandemic changed how we shop for things we need and want. Companies that were already online could accommodate that sudden shift to online shopping. Other organisations offering technology supporting those working from home also saw significant gains.
Focus on transferable skills and adaptability
Today’s engineers must also have more project management skills. “It will pay to be a generalist rather than a specialist going forward,” says Bali Battu, Executive Director of The Future of Engineering. “If you want to be good, you need to be a good problem solver.”
With an engineering mindset, you can apply your skills to a wide variety of roles. Once you realise your best transferrable skills have more to do with problem-solving, opportunities to help companies tackle challenges open up in new ways. Says Battu, “Being able to look at a situation, analyse the data, and offer solutions is valuable across many roles and industries.”
Adaptability is another helpful quality as it helps you consider different ways to use your knowledge and experience. Watch how your field is changing, and be ready to evolve along with it.
Prepare for changes ahead with essential industry resources
The Future of Engineering is a collaborative platform where engineers can connect, share ideas, and learn to build resilience in their careers. With training, workshops, events, and content focused on our three pillars of sustainability, innovation, and skills, we’ll help you take practical steps to prepare for the future.
Want to future-proof your career? Become a member of The Future of Engineering today and learn how to navigate any changes ahead.