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The Impact of Covid-19 on The Future of Engineering with Terry Spall, President of Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)

Terry Spall061 800

Stephen Brown

Euro Projects Recruitment Business Leaders Zoom Call

For Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, Transportation & Logistics Professionals

HR & COVID-19 Update + The Impact of Covid-19 on The Future of Engineering with Terry Spall, President of Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Summary of Key Points: 30th November 2020

Covid-19 & Business Update

Stephen Brown from Euro Projects Recruitment

Thank you for attending our latest, now 28th Business Leaders Zoom Call, bringing you the latest information relevant to navigating the latest challenges in business.

Since our last meeting we have heard about the new tier system for England as we come out of Lockdown Two at midnight on Tuesday 1st December.

In conversation with a Conservative MP this weekend he mentioned new rapid turnaround tests, which can help to identify and isolate people who do not have symptoms but are unintentionally spreading the virus; these can also be used to identify people who do not have the virus. This means that, in due course, it should be possible to offer people who test negative the prospect of greater freedoms.

A report published this morning suggested national capitals have been hardest hit by Covid-19 restrictions with London, Berlin, Madrid, Paris and Rome experiencing the biggest fall in advertised job opportunities compared to elsewhere in their respective countries.

Job postings in London dropped by 50% compared to a 42% decline for the rest of the UK. The Capital’s reliance on the leisure, hospitality and retail economies is considered to be a key factor in this.

In addition to a drop in tourism, city office workers now working from home has reduced footfall and local spending. London workers are more than twice as likely to be working from home as elsewhere in the UK due to the predominance of IT, Finance and Professional Service businesses.

Comparing job postings for the year to 6th November the Indeed report also said the UK employment market had suffered the biggest decline for advertised work opportunities.

In another report published by the REC and KPMG this month; permanent jobs in IT & Computing and Engineering saw the highest rise in demand, exceeding seasonally adjusted figures for 2019.

We look forward to hearing from Terry Spall from the IMechE about this shortly.

In the meantime these trends are being borne out by what we are seeing in the employment market, with a definite surge in this type of employment as we see the recovery begin to take shape.

Luke Smith: Senior Technical Consultant at Euro Projects Recruitment

Tel: 07834 074646

Over 80% of my work is currently focussed on this type of role. Advertising is no longer working as effectively as it was only 3 months ago and we are deep mining LinkedIn, Technical Forums and of course our own database to find potential candidates.

Typical roles me and the team here are currently working on include:

  • Embedded Software Engineering (Firmware), and Electronics Engineering
  • We are doing a lot in Automotive R&D sector to support vehicle electrification, connectivity and automation projects and,
  • Automation: Following some very unfortunate large scale job losses in parts of manufacturing due to Covid-19, many of those businesses are rebuilding with an automation strategy to increase productivity.
  • Industry 4.0 is supporting this strategic move towards greater productivity and smart manufacturing with a lot of new roles being created around robotics and automated manufacturing, packaging and handling systems.
  • Around software development we are also seeing a lot more opportunities for Developers and Programmers to support online business platforms and Software as a service businesses.

Thank you Luke, before moving to Terry who we look forward to hearing from about this, with the latest news on extended JRS related employment and legal issues, we are delighted to welcome our regular legal expert Helen Dyke from Irwin Mitchell, what’s new Helen?

Furlough & Employment Law Update:

Helen Dyke, Senior Associate Solicitor, Irwin Mitchell LLP

DDI: 0121 214 5242

Mobile: 07435966985

From midnight on 1st December, England’s second lockdown ends and we enter a tier system. All tiers require staff to work from home where they can. Those instructions are expected to be in place until Easter even in Covid-19 secure work environments. Question arises around “where they can” and there is potentially a grey area around whether some people who can work from home would be better in a Covid-safe workplace for other reasons such as mental health.

SB: Euro Projects has some Trainees working from the office, which meet Covid security standards and is the only way to effectively train and coach these colleagues. However we will be moving to further remote working in the lead up to Christmas to reduce contact and the chances of spreading the virus to colleagues and their older relatives at family gatherings.

The shielding programme will pause in England once lockdown ends and clinically extremely vulnerable people will be asked to return to the workplace if they can’t work from home – even if they are in tier 3.

Article on employee monitoring and the risks:

Euro Projects is grateful to Helen for this information and a special offer for contacts of Euro Projects from Irwin Mitchell for discounted rates.  Please contact Helen for information.


The Impact of Covid-19 on the Future of Engineering, with Terry Spall, President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers:


Terry Spall received his first degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1985 followed by an MSc in Engineering Management from Lancaster University in 1990.  He is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer, a Fellow and 135th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Since graduation he has worked at Leyland Trucks specialising in Vehicle NVH, structural & component testing and project management, Leyland DAF Vans as Vehicle Test Manager and Nissan at their European Technical Centre at Cranfield before joining MIRA in 1995. 

He has held a number of posts within HORIBA MIRA with responsibilities for vehicle programme management and more recently as Vice President International Operations and President of MIRA Shanghai.  He has led the establishment of MIRA’s overseas operations in 7 countries including China and India. 

He became Commercial Director for MIRA Technology Park Ltd in October 2010. He has played a key role in advancing this GBP300 million development which is rapidly gaining global recognition as a centre of excellence in transport technology; benefiting from the comprehensive test facilities and resources at MIRA.  It now has 40 resident companies, with total employment on the park now over 1100 and expected to rise to over 2500 by 2025.  MIRA Technology Park has been recognised by the UK Government for its growth potential and was awarded Enterprise Zone status in 2012 – in 2015 it was stated as being one of the top performing Enterprise Zones by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.  In March 2018 he also led a successful application resulting in MIRA Technology Park being awarded with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade.

Outside of his role in HORIBA MIRA, he has been a member of the national AMSCI (Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative 2014-2019) Programme Investment Board, responsible for over £200M of strategic investments.  Has also been Chief Judge for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) Formula Student Competition up to 2019.  In July 2012 he received an Honorary Fellowship from UCLAN.  In May 2019 he was elected as President Elect for the IMechE and became the 135th President in May 2020.

At the end of January 2020 he resigned his post in HORIBA MIRA to allow time to focus on his IMechE Presidency.  He has now set up his own company, Driven2Achieve Ltd to support activities he is planning for the future in consultancy and Non-Executive Directorship roles.

Importantly, Terry is a keen mountaineer and fell walker. Recently he has climbed Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains, trekked to Everest Base Camp and Kalapatthar (18,500ft) in the Himalayas. He has also completed the National Three Peaks Challenge three times in succession (2017/18/19) raising money for various charities. Terry is also aiming to climb all 214 'Wainwrights' in the Lake District, having currently climbed just over 100. He is also a keen classic car restorer, currently working on two projects, a 1989 TVR 3000S2 and a 1968 Morris Minor.

Terry will be exploring some of the factors that influence engineering employment including the supply/demand challenges in the UK (and beyond) and some of the factors we need to consider to ensure we can attract the next generation into engineering.   He will also consider the importance of engineers in driving innovation, the challenges of diversity and inclusion the impact of COVID and the engineering response from the Institution.

First of all Terry, as a recruiter of Engineers for over 25 years myself, let me ask how you got to become the President of such a well-respected body as the IMechE?

  • Journey – You need to be a registered engineer. Joined after graduation and a board member since 2009.
  • The members decide – The role of President is a great honour and is elected by the members
  • Our first president was George Stevenson 1847 – who gave the world the locomotive

What is going in engineering right now?

  • Globally it is huge and diverse and engineers are in great demand
  • Engineering is driving the global economy
  • Engineering UK data £235 1.4trn comes from engineering - Employing 5.6m people.
  • Engineering jobs are a great multiplier. Every time an engineer is employed it creates 1.74 extra jobs elsewhere in the economy
  • There are 200,000 more engineers needed annually for core engineering roles required
  • Already a shortfall
  • Royal Academy of Engineering outlines issues – lack of collaboration between academia and industry
  • Variability in engineering tuition
  • Challenges with professional development

What are the key challenges to reaching this target for engineering employment?

  • Diversity and inclusion is a key challenge and something we have been traditionally poor at
  • There is clear gender disparity
  • Women represent 47% of UK workforce
  • 12% in engineering
  • 18.5% female engineers employed outside the engineering sector
  • University entrant for engineering - 1 in 5 are females
  • At the same rate of change it would take 30 – 40 years to equalise the gender balance
  • 57% of female engineers drop off the register by 45 (compared to 17% men)
  • So need to improve our job of keeping them in the profession
  • Engineering is doing slightly better in terms of ethnic inclusion. 30% from minor ethnic backgrounds – higher than overall 26% average
  • Very strong diversity and inclusion scheme – lobby for change
  • All starts at school – getting young people to do STEM subjects but then keeping them in the pipeline
  • Perception of engineering is an issue
  • Those that have ability to be an engineer should always have the opportunity regardless of gender/ethnic etc. –should actually be incentivised

How has Engineering been affected by and responded to the Covid-19 Crisis?

  • Like most sectors engineering has needed to adapt to changes and convert to home working
  • At the Height of lock down 24% engineering businesses had to stop trading
  • 20% depend on import / export have had to modify supply chains
  • Members of institution have made significant efforts to mitigate the virus:
  • Help set up Nightingale hospitals in UK and Hong Kong
  • Produced new ventilator designs
  • Created ways people could continue living safely in close proximity
  • IMechE set up own Covid task force for members comprising 120,000 members of which  30,000 overseas from 140 countries
  • So when up against ropes IMechE was well placed with global best practice
  • Hong Kong good example – densely populated but better stats than UK as more used to dealing with emerging diseases such as SARS and more densely populated.
  • Hong Kong members – different types of face masks, great familiarity with complex building management systems, practical guidance of how to reopen buildings – ventilation improvements and ultra violet light
  • Ideas such as UV light for sterilisation not but hadn’t been factored in to designs
  • We were caught out – technology and knowhow was out there, although a lot can be done retrofitting to make safer
  • The Covid Task force also launched Covid manual – source of reference – how make manufacturing more Covid secure

  • With the economy in tatters Steven Metcalf MP – who formerly served as the Chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee continues to lobby for importance of engineering – he has made it clear – UK Government sees engineering as key sector post pandemic. Government want to see UK as centre where engineers want to be based – innovative

What is the anticipated impact of Brexit on Engineering?

  • Automotive sector – feel sceptical of intention – with prospect of no deal
  • Automotive industry deeply integrated with Europe
  • 8/10 cars exported
  • Likely cost of £100Bn
  • Sydney Nash, Senior Policy Manager at SMMT:

Once again a huge thank you to everyone who supports and attends our events and to you for reading this report, our aim is to serve you not sell to you!

Other dates and topics of our Zoom Calls for your diary:

  • 14th December, Round up of 2020 and how to plan for success in 2021 with guest speakers Alan Cook - Vistage Chair, Eddie Smith – Euro Projects/EP Exec Search and Steve Middleton - Engagement Multiplier.
  • 11th January – Expect an inspiring interview with a top level business leader
  • 25th January – Expect a spotlight on a leading industry with a key sector business leader  

We will also be joined by Stephen Brown discussing the current economic impact of Covid and Brexit on UK employment and Helen Dyke of Irwin Mitchell on employment law.

In the meantime, read about the latest candidates and salary levels in your industry in our Recruitment Review and Salary Survey: