There has never been a more exciting time to pursue a career in the electronics industry. Rapid digitisation is driving the need for electronics products worldwide, creating new jobs and opportunities for professionals in the field.

From project management to printed circuit board (PCB) assembly, a career in the electronics industry has a lot to offer anyone interested in the future of technology. However, although the number of jobs in the electronics industry is increasing, a global skills and labour shortage threatens to stunt its growth.

Electronics are integral to modern life, and the sector’s longevity rests on the shoulders of young people. So, it is crucial to capture the minds of future electronics professionals from a young age, providing the necessary technical foundations to support future growth within the industry.

Growing demand for skilled electronics professionals

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a rising demand for consumer electronics, with people turning to technology for entertainment, communications and work.

Although the electronics industry has faced many challenges — such as pandemic-related factory closures, semiconductor chip shortages and supply chain disruption — it is expected to experience growth between 2021 and 2022 as global economies enter a period of post-pandemic recovery.

The electronics sector is rapidly expanding and developing to support barrier-breaking trends such as the internet of things (IoT), 5G, industrial robotics and 3D printing. Technological developments have revolutionised electronics manufacturing and present even more opportunities to work within the industry, as businesses and consumers embrace the benefits of ‘big data’ and connectivity to improve day-to-day functions.

And as the desire for electronics continues to grow, so does the need for a skilled workforce. With the volume of electronics jobs increasing over the last decade alongside digitisation, a career in electronics could involve working in various sectors — from telecommunications to aerospace — offering an exciting, varied and fast-paced occupation.

Not only this, but a career in electronics engineering or manufacturing provides job security, attractive salaries, travel opportunities and the rewards of having a finger on the pulse of ongoing innovation. So, how can the electronics industry encourage young people to think about a career in technology — and why is it important they do so?

Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce

According to Deloitte’s 2019 Digital Disruption Index, too many young professionals enter the field equipped with knowledge that is already outdated soon after they start, as the skills needed to facilitate digitisation are constantly evolving. As a result, many industry leaders have identified the need to improve training and education from the classroom to the field and focus on the future to fill and prevent the skills gaps that are currently causing problems.

Organisations such as the UK Electronics Skills Foundation (UKESF) encourage young people to pursue careers in the electronics sector, making more students aware of the wealth of opportunities within the industry. And it seems to be working; more young people are taking science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects than ever before, with acceptances to engineering courses increasing by 21% between 2011 and 2020.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology offers support and resources for teachers who inspire and encourage young people to consider a career in the electronics sector. Plus, we are beginning to welcome more women into the industry. Although more work still needs to be done to close existing gender gaps, organisations like STEM Women run regular careers events for students and graduates who identify as women in STEM.

We hope that the more we talk about STEM careers and the possible avenues into the electronics industry, the more we will encourage the younger generation to view technology as something they can create, not just something they use.

EC Electronics supports a range of IPC training initiatives and works closely with local colleges and universities to get more young people into electronics. IPC is a non-profit, member-driven global trade organisation representing all facets of the electronics industry — visit the website to learn more.